At Go Basque we are lovers of gastronomy and we like to cook (and eat). That is why we want to take advantage of this space to share some of the traditional recipes of the Basque Country. Given that it is currently Atlantic Bonito (Albacore or White Tuna) season, we thought of no better way to honor this summer fish than to dedicate our first Basque food blog post to cooking a dish of “Bonito encebollado”, a traditional Basque dish that can be easily prepared at home. Bonito is a seasonal fish that is sold at fish shops throughout the summer here in the Basque Country. During this time of year, It is typical to gather in any of the gastronomic societies of San Sebastian to enjoy this dish with friends. If you can’t buy or find Bonito, however, don’t worry! A thick tuna steak can be used in its place.
INGREDIENTS (for 3-4 people)
- 1 steak of Bonito (Albacore or White Tuna)
- 4 onions, peeled and sliced into julienne strips
- 3 Italian green peppers, peeled and sliced into julienne strips
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 glass of txakoli (or any dry white wine)
- Olive oil
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the previously peeled and sliced onions and green peppers, and salt. Don’t worry if you think there is too much quantity in the pan because it will reduce considerably as it cooks. We like to peel the peppers prior to cooking because, otherwise, the skins become loose during the cooking process and we believe it makes the dish less delicate. However, there are those who prefer the pepper with the skin on, so it is up to you!
2. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are caramelized and peppers are tender, about one hour. Add the minced garlic half-way into the cooking process. If a brown coating forms on the bottom of the skillet or you notice that the onions and peppers are sticking to the pan, add the txakoli bit by bit and stir, repeating as necessary. The wine will add a special flavor and keep the onions and peppers juicy.
3. To prepare the Bonito, we will only need to sear it on both sides in a frying pan with a little olive oil. It is not necessary to cook it all the way through because the Bonito will continue to cook in the skillet with the heat of the onions and peppers. We like to use a Bonito steak (with the bone) because it is more colorful and the bone helps it maintain its moisture during the cooking process. However, the dish can be replicated using clean pieces of Bonito, if you prefer it that way.
4. Finally, we add the Bonito steak into the skillet where the onions and peppers have been cooking, and cover it with the sautéed onions and peppers, keeping the temperature on medium heat. Once all of the ingredients have reached an equal temperature, put the lid on the skillet and remove from heat. Without opening the lid, leave it to rest for 5 minutes. The Bonito is ready to eat when it is still a bit raw and moist inside. Overcooking it will dry it out, so it is better to err on the side of caution by cooking it less and placing it back on the stove for a couple more minutes if it seems too raw for you.
As you can see, the “Bonito encebollado” is a very simple traditional Basque recipe that doesn’t require many ingredients and can be made at home easily. We hope that you enjoy this Basque dish!