What Is Marmitako?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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Marmitako, meaning "from the pot", is a type of Basque fish stew that first became popular on fishing vessels off the coast of Spain and France. This dish is normally prepared in a large kettle or Dutch oven. It typically contains potatoes, tomatoes, green pepper, and spices. Freshly caught tuna is normally added, although salmon may sometimes be substituted.

This Basque cuisine was traditionally prepared by anglers on the Bay of Biscay, an area extending from western France to northern Spain. Anglers here needed an easy dish to prepare that would also be nourishing and filling. They would sometimes use part of their catch for preparing meals, which is one reason why marmitako traditionally contains tuna fish.

Salmon may sometimes be substituted for tuna in marmitako. Freshly caught fish is normally used rather than canned or frozen meat. For this reason, it is a popular dish in many hotels and restaurants along the Bay of Biscay.

This dish normally contains potatoes, which are cut into large chunks and then placed into the pot. When a small variety of potato is used, the spuds may be peeled and added whole rather than being chopped. Potatoes may also be cracked, which means they are partially slit in half before being boiled.


The potatoes and the other marmitako ingredients are typically simmered in a large kettle. This could be on top of a stove or oven an open fire. The vegetables and spices are normally cooked until they are tender before fish is added to the stew.

When finished, marmitako is typically very thick. For this reason, it is considered more of a stew than a soup. This is true even though many recipes call for fish stock to be used. Some people may refer to it as a casserole rather than fish stew. It can be served on a plate or in a bowl, and can be eaten with either a fork or a spoon.

Marmitako is normally eaten as a main dish for lunch or dinner. It is often served with a glass of wine when eaten for dinner or with a non-alcoholic beverage at lunch. Most people do not eat this fish stew with any other dish because it is very filling. It might be enjoyed with freshly baked breads or a light salad if it is part of a more elegant meal plan.


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