Bullit de Peix
The most emblematic fish dish of Ibiza
- Pedro Cervante
Today I have pleasure in introducing you to the Bullit de Peix, or fish stew, and one of the most famous places to eat it, el Bigotes, a hidden restaurant near Cala Mastella. You can see it in the photograph.
Bullit de Peix is one of the traditional dishes of the fishermen and was characteristic of the seafarers’ cuisine.
It is prepared with fish from shallow waters and accompanied with potatoes and a banda rice. Today, this dish can be eaten in many restaurants with traditional Ibiza cuisine.
The origin of Bullit de Peix is said to be the fishermen using whatever from their catch they did not sell that day, and so the ingredients have never been fixed.
But there is one certain feature of any authentic Bullit de Peix – that every one of the ingredients is fresh, and all of them are from the sea and fields of Ibiza.
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The most common fish used will be flounder, grouper, dragon head or monkfish. Some people like to add lobster or prawns.
From the fields the dish is made with bay leaves, garlic, tomatoes, green peppers, potatoes, saffron, olive oil and salt.
The traditional Bullit de Peix is prepared in the typical clay pot of the Balearic Islands, the greixonera. Perhaps you have heard of it as the name of a postre that has the same name.
Bullit de Peix does not need precise measurements of the ingredients. You try it your way.
First, the garlic, the laurel and the green peppers are slightly fried in small pieces.
The chopped tomatoes and water are added and boiled for five minutes with saffron.
Next potatoes must be covered with the water and boiled for five minutes.
Then our island salt is added and cooked for another fifteen minutes.
Before the potatoes are completely cooked the fish is incorporated.
The fish is served on a tray with the potatoes as a side dish.
This dish is usually served with an alioli sauce to enhance the taste.
The banda rice is then cooked by frying them in the same pot so that it takes on the delicious flavours of the tomato and herbs, and then it is cooked using the water from the potato.
As the tradition prescribes, fish are the first to be eaten, then the potatoes and finally, the rice.
In Ibiza, many restaurants of the coast offer this wonderful seafront dish and one of the most famous and popular is el Bigotes, where the owner has been selling Bullit de Peix to his loyal customers every day for many years. He is a real character and it is worth a visit for him alone – but then the fish is also fantastic.
I hope you will want to try it sometime.
And now I leave you with a small idea of the man behind the restaurant.
These comments were taken in an article with the periódico El Mundo. It is not perfect, but I think you will understand a little of the man and character.
Juan Ferrer Interview
- Brief extract from Interview with Juan Ferrer, Owner of El Bigotes, by El Mundo 2015
A few weeks ago, Juan celebrated his 85th birthday, but he retains a feisty spirit. “He doesn’t know what a good morning is,” warns Monica, one of his nine granddaughters. For years his anger was part of the show. “It’s just that they don’t listen to me anymore,” he protests, punching the table with a huge hand.
The employees, mostly family, prepare the service in good humour, regardless of any discomfort brought about by the patriarch.
Juan no longer fishes or cooks, and says he is forced to act as a relic. “Soon I will just be the face drawn onto the tablecloths”.
“My family still bring me to eat here every day,” he says, “I’ve always been here”.
Juan eats the same dish from Easter until the last Sunday of October. It is the only dish that he has been serving for 40 years under his chamizo: Bullit de peix , a fisherman’s stew with what has been hooked in the early morning nets, seasoned with stir-fry and potatoes, and then brown rice. It is cooked with wood, in the same copper and at the same time for all customers, 70 a day. Many show up without an appointment waiting for a delay or a last minute leave. If you don’t arrive on time you don’t eat.