Dear Marc,
Considering you are a Basque food fan with considerable experience with the food from the region, what is your favourite Basque dish (and how you would cook it of course).

Regards. Trisha Stewart. Palma

Yes I am a big Basque food fan and I spent a few happy years in San Sebastian where they do take their food very seriously. I loved the gastronomic societies where people from all walks of life would come together and cook for their friends. In the large kitchens men would be scattered around cooking traditional recipes and everybody would taste the different dishes. Politics and problems would be put aside and the only topic of conversation would be the pleasures of the table and how bad Real Sociedad were playing at the time. I have many favourite dishes from the Basque region, ”marmitako” ”alubias de tolosa” ”merluza en salsa verde” ”txangurro al horno” to name a few, but the first dish that really caught my eye was ”bacalao al pil–pil”. Chefs would treat this dish with such reverence and much discussion would take place as to the correct method to prepare it. The temperature of the oil, whether the cod should be placed first, skin side up or skin side down, with or without parsley etc. The dish in itself is an incredibly simple one, with just 2 main ingredients: salt cod and olive oil but the end result is incredible and the technique fascinated me. The dish is best made in a ”cazuela de barro” (an earthenware dish). Here is the recipe and remember, if you are going to attempt the dish, take your time and enjoy a little science happening before your eyes as the gelatine from the fish starts to emulsify the olive oil.

BACALAO AL Pil–Pil (serves 6)
· 800g Salt–cod fillets (de–salted)
· 1L Olive oil
· 3 Garlic cloves (sliced)

Place the olive oil in a heavy–bottomed frying pan and fry the sliced garlic gently until golden brown. Remove the garlic and set aside. Place the salt–cod fillets skin side up and cook gently for no more than 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour most of the oil into a bowl. Move the frying pan in circular motions, back and forth and watch as the fish starts to release a little white liquid. Remove the fish carefully from the pan. Add slowly the rest of the olive oil moving the pan in circular motions to emulsify the sauce until thick and translucent. You can thin it down a little with white dry wine or water if it becomes too thick. Season to taste, place the fish back in the dish, sprinkle with the crispy garlic slices and serve immediately.