Origin: Balearic Islands, Spain
This dish is a great Spanish fish stew recipe which originates in the Balearic Islands which can be found off the East coast of the Spanish peninsular. However, it is not clear whether this is the original birthplace of the recipe as a number of similar dishes with similar names can be found throughout Europe, and particularly the Mediterranean region.
Naturally, fish dishes and fish soups are popular around the Mediterranean Sea as the area is rich in a number of fish and seafood. Dishes of a similar nature to the Burrida de Raya of the Balearic Islands can therefore be found everywhere; however the type of fish used and the seasoning varies from place to place.
In the northern Italian region of Liguria, chefs make a dish called buridda which tends to be accompanied by fried bread. Meanwhile, in France and on the island of Corsica a similar dish called bourride is made and served with a rusty-brown coloured sauce called rouille. It is thought that the name also originates from the word bourrido in the French dialect Provençal which is found in the South of the country. Hence we get 'burrida' in Spanish.
The Burrida de raya of the Balearic Islands is served with a fish stock which is mixed with parsley and the famous Spanish garlic mayonnaise sauce called alioli. It is also served on a piece of rustic bread in the bottom of the soup bowl as opposed to the fried bread of the Ligurian version.
Those of you who study Spanish in Spain or abroad will have worked out that the fish used in this recipe is skate as the Spanish word for this fish is 'raya', similar to the English word 'ray'. This fish may appear strange at first but it is actually very tasty and one you should look out for if you ever visit Spain or the Mediterranean.
However, certain types of skate have become rare and endangered due to a mixture between their slow birth rate and growth rate as well as over-fishing. Many types of the species have been placed on the Greenpeace International Seafood red list such as the barndoor skate, bottlenose skate, spotback skate, and maltese skate. Therefore take care to only buy and cook the skate that is not protected. If in doubt, you could always ask your local fishmonger for advice, especially if you have never cooked this kind of fish before. Of course, you could always just use a different fish such as plaice but to keep the recipe authentic and as close to the original Spanish island dish, skate is definitely best.