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Kokotxas & Txakoli

Today we are going to share a recipe that is, as we like to say, 100% Basque: Kokotxas al Txakoli.

I found the recipe in the book Sociedad Gastronómica de Gaztelubide that a dear friend, Esteban Durán, a huge enthusiast of the local history, loaned to me.

For my friends and clients, that still do not know what the San Sebastian gastronomical societies are, we have asked the president of Gaztelubide, José Ramob, to tell us a little more about its origin.

In a quick recap about the origin of the San Sebastian gastronomical societies, José said…There are many theories but the one that is the most credible or that is most accepted is that during that time, the inhabitants of the San Sebastian civil society had a very strong matriarchy where the women were responsible for almost everything, from the household income to the children’s education. With all this matriarchal power, the men found a small escape from this big influence. Another recognized theory is that they said that it started in 1813 when the city of San Sebastian was burned by the French and from there they started to gather in meetings to reconstruct the city.

Some friends started to meet in a small store to chat and eat. In the beginning there was no kitchen, there was nothing.  gaztelubide 2 copyEach person would bring something to eat from their house. They would buy the drinks among themselves and each one would pay based on what they consumed.

With the passing of time they were updated and put in kitchens. Instead of bringing food from the house, they would buy fish or meat and would cook it in the way that they felt like eating it.

A common denominator that all the societies have, now and then, is that there has always existed a marriage among the friends of the society and the local gastronomy. Today, one does not understand a gastronomical society without having a kitchen. That is to say we gather to eat, chat and spend a nice time among friends. We like to eat well…and drink well, as José tells us.

Returning to our recipe…The combination of txakoli prepared with the kokotxas is a perfect marriage because the grapes that produce txakoli receive the salty residue of the sea, the wine has a light acidic touch and contrasts with the gelatinous texture of the kokotxas.

The kokotxas, found in the head, along with the mouth (the lower part of the chin) of the cod or hake fish was the part of the fish least appreciated, so much so that the Basque fishermen would, while still at sea and in order to not damage the fish, remove the kokotxas and cook them on the boat. In time it has evolved and today is a delicacy, a symbol of Basque cooking. Here it goes! Take a chance!

Kokotxas al Txakoli

Luis Elorza’s Recipe, from the Gaztelubide Gastronomical Society of San Sebastain.

For 5 dinner guests:


  • 1kg of hake kokotxas
  • ½ glass of txakoli
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large red bell pepper or three small ones (green)
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley
  • 3 deciliters of oil


Clean the kokotxas well and with a very sharp knife cut them out; put the kokotxas on low heat (the water just covering them). When they have boiled for three or four minutes, remove them from the heat and set them aside to cool.

Put a deciliter of oil and two cloves of garlic in a heated frying pan, brown them, remove from heat and set the oil aside for it to cool.

Put two deciliters of oil along with the remaining four cloves of finely chopped garlic in the pot; heat it up and when they rise to the surface, remove them without letting them brown and set them aside to cool. Next, place the previously salted kokotxas in the pot and with the gray part facing up – laid out in an orderly fashion-, take the pot off the heat for a few minutes and then cook on medium heat stirring continuously.  Remove them after two minutes and continue to stir the pot until it stops boiling.

Drizzle txakoli in the pot and add two tablespoons of oil from the frying pan and about six tablespoons of fish broth. Put the heat on again and later stir the pot slowly. After two minutes having boiled, remove it from the heat and stir it until it stops boiling and cover the pot.

In the frying pan that has the oil, put the finely diced and well cleaned green pepper in the pan on medium heat and lightly fry without browning. When it is softens, add the finely chopped parsley.  Keep it a few more minutes on the heat and use a beater, adding half of the kokotxas sauce. Beat it well and distribute it in the pot. Before serving, put the pot on a low heat, stirring continuously, then remove it and when it stops boiling and cover it for about three minutes which will be the ideal timing.

On egin (Enjoy your meal in Euskera).