Origin: Basque Country

Marmitako is yet another great fish dish from the Basque Country, whose cuisine is celebrated throughout Spain and the world as being one of the best. Marmitako is a tuna fish stew with potatoes that is not too difficult to make but is extremely tasty and filling.

The name Marmitako comes from the Basque word 'marmita' which means 'pot' or 'casserole' in the Basque language. This is combined with the suffix of the genitive case 'ko' to give Marmitako which literally means 'from the pot'. And that is precisely what this Spanish recipe is, a stew made in a pot. Of course, many dishes in Basque gastronomy are made in pots but clearly someone decided that this dish was deserving of the title.

Marmitako stew originally began life on board the local fishing boats off the Spanish coast, and in many cases, still is. However, it has also been a staple dish of many Basque restaurants, something which you will see when you visit Spain.


There are a number of variations of the dish, which mainly vary due to the type of fish used in the recipe. One of the most popular varieties is the one that uses salmon instead of the traditional salmon. However, tuna tends to be the favoured ingredient as it delicious, widely available and not that expensive!

This tuna fish stew is like a thick soup, which is in mostly due to the potatoes. The traditional method of 'cracking' the potatoes is done as it makes the potatoes release more starch into the stew. This also means that the fish soup is filling and a relatively small amount of ingredients can go a long way - perfect for those lovers of Spanish gastronomy on a budget! In theory, this would be a perfect dish for students who study Spanish in Spain as it is relatively cheap to make.

Another great thing about Marmitako is that the main body of the stew can be prepared up to the point when you are about to add the tuna and will keep in a fridge overnight. You can then heat up the stew the next day and add the tuna then.

Marmitako | Fresh Tuna and Potato Stew


  • 2 dried choriceros or ancho chilli peppers
  • 1 lb fresh tuna fillet
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 lbs of russet potatoes (around 4 potatoes)
  • ⅓ cup Olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ green bell pepper, seeded and cut into long, thin strips
  • 1 tbsp sweet pimetón or paprika
  • Serves 6 when eaten as a main course


  • Put the dried chilli peppers into a heatproof dish and cover with boiling water and leave to stand for about 30 minutes, or until the peppers are soft.
  • Then drain the chilli peppers, slit them open and scrape out the flesh and put to one side. Get rid of the seeds, skins and stems.
  • Cut the tuna fillet into small pieces and sprinkle them with the coarse salt and leave to one side.
  • Peel the potatoes and then 'crack' them by cutting a little way into each potato and then breaking it open the rest of the way. The pieces should be the same size as chestnuts. Leave the pieces of the potatoes to one side.
  • In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat then add the onion, garlic, bell pepper strips and the chilli pepper flesh. Stir the mixture well and cook for about 5 minutes or until both the onion and green pepper have begun to go soft and all the ingredients are mixed together nicely.
  • To this mixture, add the potatoes and pimetón and mix well. Season with some salt and add water to cover the ingredients by about 5 centimetres (2 inches). Bring to a boil and then cover. Once covered, reduce the heat to a medium-low heat and then cook for another 30 minutes or until the potatoes feel soft when prodded with a fork.
  • Add the tuna to the pan and then simmer until the tuna is opaque, around 5 minutes. Remove the stew from the heat and then allow to stand for half an hour before serving.
  • When you come to serve the stew, reheat it over a low flame to a sufficiently hot temperature. Ladle out into warm bowls and serve straight away.