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    tuna balls, Spanish Fish Recipes, Spanish Starters & Appetisers 5 1 5 0

    Bonito Tuna Balls in Tomato Sauce

    • Serves 4 people
    • Complexity Easy
    Prep time
    10 mins
    Cook time
    55 mins
    Total time
    1hr 05 mins
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    • 1kg fresh bonito tuna loin, cleaned, with no skins or bones
    • 1 medium onion, finely chopped and sweated for 5 minutes in pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
    • 1 small piece of bread dough, soaked in milk
    • 1 egg
    • Salt to taste
    • Plain flour for rolling the tuna balls
    • Olive oil for frying
    • For the tomato sauce:
    • 4 tbsp of olive oil
    • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 green pepper, core and seeds removed and finely sliced
    • 1 large red pepper, cut in half lengthways, core and seeds removed
    • 100ml txakoli or dry white wine
    • 1kg ripe plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
    • Pinch of caster sugar
    • Salt to taste


    This is my grandma Veri’s recipe and my all-time favourite dish when I was a kid. If there is a dish that got me into food, this is the one. At the tender age of 6, I ate 12 of these delicious tuna fish balls in one go. Although is a Basque recipe, it is not widely known at all. I know that it comes from El Regato area of Barakaldo where my grandma grew up. I guess this is a dish that she learnt from her mother and then prepared it for her family. If you cannot get hold of bonito tuna, just use fresh red tuna. The secret is not to boil the sauce when cooking the tuna balls or they will dry up. Add a freshly roasted red pepper to the tomato sauce to enhance the colour and flavour.


    1. Start by making the tuna balls. In a food processor, add the tuna fish cut into small pieces and blend until you get a fish minced dough. Place in a large bowl and mix in the sweated onions, chopped parsley, egg, bread dough and season with salt. Mix well and shape into meatballs the size of a golf ball. Rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
    2. To make the tomato sauce, place a medium-sized pan on a low heat, heat the oil and add the chopped onions, garlic and green pepper and cook for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the txakoli wine and reduce by half. Add the chopped plum tomatoes and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes. Add a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and season with salt.
    3. Whilst the sauce is cooking pre-heat your oven grill. Rub 1 tablespoon of olive oil on all the pepper halves and place under the grill until the skins are completely black all round, remove from the grill and cover with some aluminium foil and rest for 10 minutes. After this time, peel the peppers, cut into thin long strips, and add to the sauce together with the cooking oil and juices. Cook the sauce for a further 10 minutes on a low heat and pass through a moulin into a shallow casserole dish. Check for seasoning and keep warm.
    4. Heat some oil in a large frying pan and fry the meatballs until lightly brown on all sides. Add the meatballs to the rich tomato sauce and cook on a low heat without boiling the sauce for 2 minutes on each side and serve.

      Shop Ingredients

      Txakoli Zudugarai 2023


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