Titaina: recipe from Valencia 

Titaina is a typical seafood dish from Valencia. Although it resembles ratatouille, this recipe is unique in its style and ingredients.

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Similar to ratatouille in some ways, Titaina Valenciana is a unique delicacy with a very clear origin – Valencia. The seaside villages, specifically the Cabanyal neighbourhood, are where the titaina was prepared. It is a dish based on simple ingredients, which was made by the humble people who lived in these parts. The tradition of cooking seafood titaina has survived to this day, and it is easy to see why it is a recipe that has endured over time.

To begin with, titaina is a simple and delicious dish that, like ratatouille, can be stored in an airtight jar and kept in the fridge for several days. It can be prepared in many ways and is always delicious. In snacks, toasts, montaditos, or as a filling for empanadillas or coca, it is common to find titaina in bars and restaurants. It is, without a doubt, a recipe that fits perfectly with the classic esmorzaret that is typical to Valencia and that we love so much.

But what is titaina? Or rather, what makes it so unique? Its main ingredient is tonyina de sorra – salted tuna belly. Although it can also be prepared with fresh fish or bonito, tuna is at the centre of Valencian titaina. Pine nuts are another characteristic element of this dish.

For the titaina recipe, you will need:

  • 300 g tuna belly
  • 40 g pine nuts
  • 1 kg tomatoes
  • 2 green Italian peppers
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt

It is always worth betting on quality products, especially in titaina marinara, since the tomato must be fresh and seasonal. This is the only way to guarantee that the dish has the incomparable flavour for which it is known. It must also be simmered to concentrate the flavours as the liquid evaporates.

The original recipe for titaina 

Clearly, when making titaina, you will want to follow the original recipe and with good reason! Even so, you should know that, as its origins are humble, different versions and ways of preparing it have evolved. Although it does not usually contain onion, some people choose to add it. Some recipes omit the garlic. What follows is the classic original recipe for titaina:

1. If you have bought tonyina de sorra packed in oil, you will not have to soak it to remove excess salt. If you opt for fresh fish, you will also have to clean the piece and cut it into small pieces.

2. Chop the garlic cloves. Wash, peel and remove the seeds from the peppers before dicing them. If you want to use whole fresh tomatoes, you must blanch them, having made a small cut at the bottom so you can easily peel them. Put all the ingredients aside until needed.

3. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan. Add the chopped garlic with the pine nuts, and sauté over low heat so that they take on colour but be careful not to burn them.

4. Add the tuna and sauté it raising the temperature until it browns. Remove it from the pan and put it to one side.

5. It is now the peppers’ turn. Add them into the same pan with a little more oil and fry them until they are tender.

6. Chop or grate the tomatoes (if used whole), and add them to the pan. Stir and leave them to cook gently for about 30 minutes over low heat.

7. Then add the tuna, pine nuts and garlic, and stir well. Cook for at least 10 minutes, but up to 30 if you want the stew to be sweeter and more flavourful. Adjust for salt, acidity and texture as a last step and listo!

Valencian titaina becomes more flavourful if it rests for a few hours, so try to make it well in advance of serving. It can be accompanied by hard-boiled eggs, and a Spanish potato omelette and good, fresh bread is a must.