Marmitako (Fresh Tuna and Potato Stew)

During October 2012, I visited San Sebastian, located in the Basque region of Spain.  Many consider San Sebastian the new culinary capital of Europe. Since most of my sightseeing activities are generally centered around eating and drinking, I felt right at home here.  During my 4-day stay in this culinary delightful city, I decided to take a cooking class, sponsored by San Sebastian Food.  Marmitako is one of the many dishes we prepared in the class.  Below is my version of the recipe that we prepared in class.
Marmitako, a fresh tuna and potato stew that's generally served right out of the pot, is delicious!  You should definitely try this recipe especially if you've never had it before - you will fall in love with it just as I did the first time I tried it.   The key to a spectacular marmitako is fresh ingredients and homemade fish stock.  See my boullabaisse recipe (steps 1 to 4) for making a good fish stock.
Recipe adapted from San Sebastian Foods
Makes 6 servings


  • 1 pound fresh tuna fillets
  • Small bunch of parsley
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large spanish onion, sliced (radial cuts)
  • 1 green pepper, sliced and diced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 2 to 3 large russet potatoes, about 2 pounds total weight
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pimentón or paprika
  • 2 dried choricero or ancho chiles
  • Fish or vegetable stock
  • 2/3 cup tomato sauce


Step 1: Cut the tuna into small pieces. Sprinkle the pieces with coarse salt and set aside.
Step 2: Peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes by holding the potato in one hand and the knife in the other, dig the knife in and using the side of the knife to break into chunks.  Breaking the potatoes in this way allows the potato to keep its shape and the starch to be released to thicken the sauce.  Set the potato pieces aside.
Step 3: In a stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and green and red bell peppers. Sweat your vegetables on low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until the onions and bell peppers have begun to soften and all the ingredients are well blended.
Step 4: Add the potatoes and pimentón and mix well. Season with a little coarse salt and add broth to cover by 2 inches. Add tomato sauce and bring to a boil and decrease the heat to medium-low.
Step 5: Add the dried chiles to the stock pot and continue to cook for 15 minutes.  Take dried chiles out of the stock pot, split them open and scrape off the flesh with the edge of a knife, discarding the seeds, skins, and stems. Add the flesh to the pot.
Step 6:  Continue to cook the potatoes for 30 to 45 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
Step 7: Add the tuna pieces to the pot. Take pot off heat, cover and let the tuna steam for 5 to 10 minutes. If the soup is very clear because the potatoes didn't release enough starch, mash a piece or two against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon and shake the pot a little.
Step 8: Ladle into warmed bowls, add chopped parsley, and serve.  Below are pictures of the marmitako that we made in our cooking class at ZiaBoga in San Sebastian.
And here are pictures of the two chefs who taught the class and my classmates:


Cheryl, This looks great!! I wish I was back in San Sebastian enjoying all that wonderful food! We had so much fun wine touring and cooking with you!

I wish I was still there too. So happy to hear from you. Hope you guys had an uneventful trip back to Texas. Oh and sorry for Texas' loss on Saturday (but good for the Mountaineers). I changed up the recipe a little bit. My version was still good but it really is difficult to replicate the flavor and tastiness of the marmitako that we made in class. The freshly caught tuna definitely has a better flavor than the several day old and frozen tuna we have in the states.

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