There’s a good reason for the name given to albacore tuna in Asturias, bonito. It also means pretty! The thing is that there are few things as eye-catching to local gourmets of the produce of the sea as freshly caught bonito. What’s more, it’s high season now for this “white” tuna in the Gijón, where restaurants and cider taverns offer a variety of ways of preparing this fish that is the undisputed King of the Cantabrian Sea.
The classic way of preparing this tuna is in the form of a thick steak, bonito a la plancha, i.e. griddled on the hotplate and sometimes accompanied by a freshly-made thick tomato and onion sauce. However, the most highly appreciated part of the fish is the belly, known in Asturias as ventrisca or ventresca. This is considered a true delicacy and may be prepared on the griddle or baked in the oven. The flesh is much softer and oilier than that of the top part of the fish, the steaks, and has an exquisite taste. A veritable delicatessen that needs no accompaniment!
And then there is rollo de bonito (tuna roll or loaf, if you prefer). Its preparation is somewhat elaborate, but well worth the effort. The meat of the fish is minced using a pair of skilfully-wielded knives and mixed with pitted olives, boiled egg, diced red peppers and whatever else takes the cook’s fancy all chopped up small. The mixture is seasoned and formed into a roll, dipped in flour and beaten egg and gently fried in olive oil to seal all the flavour in. The bonito roll is then baked in the oven, usually in a thick tomato and onion sauce to give it even more flavour and prevent it from becoming too dry, and served either hot or cold in slices. Another must taste for residents and visitors to Gijón alike.