We are undoubtedly living in a historical moment in which life has been accelerated to unprecedented levels.
This “fast-life” approach, adopted by the likes of Netflix and Amazon, has made immediacy a generalised demand to which we give in, influencing more and more our way of doing things.
We let ourselves be seduced by the comfort of ease and accessibility; but also detachment and a standardization of taste.
With “everything everywhere” you will find that the “everything” ends up being all the same. We propose a return to the old, trusty flavours and way of life, which upon one bite, tells you about the place, its people, their way of living life, their characters, customs and origins.
In our fight against speed and haste, we reclaim the quiet, understated pleasures and enjoy what is slowly simmered rather than microwaved.
What better way to do this than with a good "sofrito" like the flagship recipe of the “xup-xup” from the kitchen cooked without a necessity for hurrying or urgency.
Here we leave you with the recipe for a deeply rich "sofrito" sauce which we would accompany with our Bonito del Norte. A perfect tomato-based recipe to enjoy during the tomato season or can be stored in a bain-marie to enjoy all year round.
1 KG of seasonal tomatoes (we recommend pear or teardrop tomatoes)
1 KG of onions
2 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
· Finely chop the onions and sauté them in extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of salt and brown sugar. Maintain a medium-low heat (160º) and wait for the onion to take on an intense honey colour.
· Chop the garlic cloves and add them to the pan to brown.
· Clean, peel and crush the tomatoes to create a tomato puree texture, add to the pan and lower the heat to simmer.
· Add the bay leaves (or the desired seasoning i.e. chorizo pepper, basil or nutmeg).
· Wait for all the flavours to mix well and for the excess water from the tomatoes and onions to evaporate (do not add additional water).
· Take a moment to enjoy the aroma of the "xup-xup" and help yourself to a glass of wine to whet your appetite and liven up the wait.
· Season the sauce, and if necessary correct the acidity with extra brown sugar.
by Xavi Domingo
"We are in the middle of peak tuna season in the north, an exceptional catch credited as the flagship of the summer season in our kitchens”
White “bonito” fish is closely related to Basque fishing tradition and culture. Our companions, fishing vessel “Itsas Lagunak” (friends of the sea), trail the cool northern waters catching tuna, one by one. They respect the fishing ritual that has been tradition for centuries in the Basque Country so much so, they are credited as one of the best suppliers of “Bonito del Norte” (literally tuna of the north).
June to early October is the season that tuna migrate north to cooler northern Atlantic waters, notably the Cantabrian coast, to reproduce and find food (anchovies, chicharros and verdeles). The tuna is captured by selective fishing at the height of its flavour, tender texture and exquisite flavour.
A true delicacy for the soul but also recommended from a nutritional perspective because of its high content of omega 3 fatty acids.
The “arrantzales” (fishermen) of the “Itsas Lagunak” boat, capture the tuna one by one using fishing hooks from the side of the boat. Catching tuna individually is considered the most sustainable and ensures that each is the right quality and size. It also preserves the texture of the fish and prevents harmful by-catch and bruising from nets. Lastly, it is a respectful and beautiful way to maintain the intangible heritage that is constituted by artisanal fishing and the wisdom of our ancestors.
At SAGARDI, we make the most of this exceptional product.
For example, our “Marmitako” de bonito, an incredibly popular and typical Basque dish; a hearty boat stew brimming with flavour, born from ancient Basque fishermen while out at sea.
Another classic dish from our Basque cuisine is “Bonito con tomate”; traditional, simple and tasty. A perfect option to enjoy the delicious, smooth, white meat of the bonito combined with seasonal tomato sauce and fresh Ibarra chillies. Summer is a time when you really get to appreciate Basque Cuisine in all its fine glory.
Off the menu, you can often find “Grilled Bonito Ventresca”, a subtle dish with a greasy touch that is a true delight for the palate. The oak charcoal grill and our classic San Sebastian are your best allies’.
Different ways to enjoy a wonderful seasonal product with a lot of history and tradition. Just some of many dishes that connect us to true Basque cuisine. On egin!
Farmhouse tomatoes from our gardens, green Ibarra chilli peppers, marmitako (fisherman’s stew) with "bonito" fish from the port of Hondarribia … the new summer menu is here!
Summer is a time when you really get to appreciate Basque Cuisine in all its fine glory. At SAGARDI Group we take full advantage of this season during a time when the region's rugged coastlines and charming land provide some of the most wonderful produce. Some of the greatest and most iconic dishes include a variety of tomatoes at their peak, green chilli peppers from Ibarra and white “bonito” fish marmitako.
The green Ibarra chilli peppers are the true star in the Basque gardens, a wonder that the Basque people await every summer as a gastronomic treasure. These come from our own gardens and are collected before they reach 12 cm so they can retain all their tenderness.
Appreciated for their taste, our green Ibarra chilli peppers are pan fried for a mere 30 seconds and simply seasoned with salt; an uncomplicated and favourite summer starter.
The mild temperatures and abundant rainfall of the Basque Country are the ideal conditions for our own SAGARDI gardens to produce a variety of the best tomatoes. Handpicked at the peak of their ripeness and maturity so they can be presented at our tables packed with punches of intense, succulent and sweet flavours.
Marmitako with white “bonito” fish is another incredibly popular and typical Basque dish that is one of our favourites, quite simply; a fisherman’s hearty boat stew brimming with flavour. Renowned for its simplicity and richness, marmitako uses potatoes, vegetables and freshly caught white “bonito” fish from the ports of Hondarribia.
The white “Bonito” fish that is caught and served in our restaurants comes from our trusted fishermen in the Basque Country on their boat “Itsas Lagunak” (Friends of the Sea). Each season, they provide us with the best “Bonito del Norte” from the Basque Country.
Desserts stick to the Basque Country traditions too and we are in love with our new seasonal dessert; Roasted peaches from Tudela stuffed with vanilla cream and served with lemongrass ice cream. On egin!
Marmitako is an incredibly popular and typical Basque dish that is one of our favourites, a fisherman’s boat stew, simple but brimming with flavour.
Originally beginning life on board the local fishing boats when out in high seas, it was the Basque fishermen - also known as “arrantzaleak” - who first came up with this recipe.
The Basque fishermen needed to prepare a hearty stew whilst out at high sea with minimal produce that could be loaded onto the boats and kept fresh. Renowned for its simplicity, richness and practicality, “marmitako” was born using potatoes, onions, peppers, tomato preserves that they carried on land and fresh “bonito” tuna that they caught.
Cooked in a large pot (marmitako means roughly “from the pot” in Basque) on the deck of the ship, it was also a moment to come together. What was caught side by side was enjoyed side by side.
There is no doubt that this “ritual” was a small oasis to warm up and regain strength, but above all, it was a moment to celebrate a strong, hard work ethic, friendship and life, as with a good bowl of marmitako, everything tasted better.
Marmitako has always been one of our signature dishes of the spring season. From those that you look forward to, after a whole winter remembering it, and with all summer ahead to enjoy it over and over again.
At Sagardi, this time of year, we like to serve this dish as a sincere tribute to the arrantzales or Basque fishermen. You too, with this marmitako recipe, can pay tribute from home. Of course, as you know, there is no magic formula, the secret lies in the produce, the sensitivity and experience.
So, if you want to eat good good good marmitako, which pays homage to those Basque fishermen of yesteryear who left their fishing rods for a moment to gather around a large pot - you have to visit your local Sagardi restaurant - where we will be waiting for you with the stew simmering.