Over the years, Basque cuisine has been gaining more popularity, especially the gastronomy of San Sebastian, which has become one of the great tourist incentives to discover its delicacies.
San Sebastian's culinary art has an extraordinary base of preparation thanks to the enormous number of ingredients. Among them, a large number of fish and shellfish from the Cantabrian coast, meat, vegetables and a wide range of cereals stand out.
San Sebastian fish, the real secret
The San Sebastian menu is simply spectacular thanks to a range of dishes that splendidly combine an authentic cornucopia of flavours from the coast. These include cod, the main source of some of the best dishes in Basque Country.
Among the most important dishes made from cod is pil pil cod, whose secret lies in a successful mix of the freshness of the fish loin and the sauce made from olive oil, garlic and chillies.
A key point is to not forget to stir the casserole constantly until the sauce reaches an even texture. Then spread it, just as evenly, over the cod.
Another gastronomic delicacy based on cod is the popular cod omelette, which is usually prepared as a starter and is made with green pepper, onion, olive oil, garlic and crumbled and desalted cod. It is one of the most popular dishes and is enormously attractive due to its exquisite flavour.
In addition to cod, the cuisine of San Sebastian relies on seafood with enormous flavour and seasoning, such as albacore tuna and bonito. These fish are the base of another of the star dishes on the San Sebastian menu, one that has managed to cross borders throughout Europe: marmitako.
Marmitako is an exquisite stew that is so popular it can also be eaten in Cantabria or Asturias. It is made with potatoes, tomato, onion and pepper sauce, together with tuna in a traditional clay pot.
Another enormously popular dish is the traditional “txangurro” made with spider crabs. It is one of the indisputable pillars of Basque cuisine. The secret is to extract the meat from the spider crab and mix it with a select amount of vegetables that usually include onion, leek and tomato. Then put it back inside the shell of the spider crab, cover it with breadcrumbs with butter and, finally, bake it.
Delicacies from the orchard
Not all the flavour and delight of the San Sebastian table comes from the sea. Its garden products and confectionery hide other wonders that have become famous throughout Spain.
One of the traditional dishes of unmistakable quality and extraordinary flavour is Tolosa beans. There are also the tasty “piparras”, thin-skinned chillies and tender meat.
Sweet morsels of San Sebastian pastries
There are many sweet bites from San Sebastian's pastries, but without a doubt, the dessert par excellence is Basque cake, a sweet that has crossed borders and is world famous.
It is one of the oldest sweets in San Sebastian cuisine. Its recipe and preparation have been reinvented over time, but without losing an iota of its original flavour, appeal and popularity. Made with cornmeal, honey and lard, this is a dry cake whose filling can include sloes, blackberries, figs, black cherries and other fruits that have increased its immense gastronomic and cultural legacy.
From the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, many pastry chefs began filling it with pastry cream. Today, its filling includes rum, vanilla, ground almonds and other ingredients.
As an interesting note, the top of an authentic and traditional Basque cake is usually decorated with a “lauburu”, as the Basque cross is popularly known.
In addition to Basque cake, the San Sebastian confectionery offers delicacies of enormous popularity such as rice pudding, cheese with walnuts and quince and curd.