Spring is a season of wonderful produce in Basque Country, the northern Spanish region with a religious obsession with food, terroir and seasonal ingredients. We had the chance to taste the prized delicacy of ‘green caviar‘ spring peas, and the best mackerel and anchovies at Etxebarri. Spring is also peak season for wild turbot, a flatfish highly regarded for over 2,000 years for its delicate flavours and silky, firm white flesh.
Located in the idyllic fishing town of Getaria, Elkano is one of Basque Country’s best fish restaurants to savour turbot. For generations, locals frequent the old-fashioned restaurant for special occasion feasts. These days, it is a favourite among globetrotting food critics, having earned a one Michelin star and its place among the top 100 of the World’s Best Restaurants 2018. Its specialty turbot dish, cooked whole on an open-air charcoal parrilla grill outside the restaurant, is served on the bone with sea salt and olive oil – delicious and perfectly fitting for our Chinese tastebuds.
Growing up in Singapore, we were taught to eat the fish from its head to tail at the family table, and never to waste any remaining flesh. The best parts were always the flesh at the fins, the cheeks and tail, and the gelatinous bits of the fish eyes were considered a delicacy. Eating fish at Elkano is a similar experience; Aitor Arregi, the restaurant owner, guided us through the different parts of the turbot as he deboned and filleted the body, the head, the cheeks, the fins and the tail. We were even encouraged to eat with our hands to taste the skin and jelly-like flesh stuck to its fins.
We easily polished the turbot clean. Its flesh was tender and flaky, possessing a hint of beautiful smoke from the grill. How can something this ‘simple’ (few ingredients, no complicated techniques) be cooked to such perfection?
Other amazing dishes we had:
Herrerieta Kalea, 2, 20808 Getaria, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Reservations recommended (We reserved our table 3 months ahead). Reserve by phone: +34 943 140 024 /+34 649 335 274
Closed on Tuesday