the tigre

I've written before about the classic pintxos of San Sebastián...everyone knows the croqueta (but not where to get the best one...more on that later), and there's the gilda, an anchovy-olive-pepper emblem of the city, and the gavilla, a slightly less famous yet equally obsessed-over pintxo.

Well, I'm here to introduce another all-star bite: the tigre.

Nobody knows where the name came from. It means, obviously enough, tiger, and some believe the name to stem from the spiciness associated with the plate.  I have to say I've never had one that was exactly spicy, but that could just be the opinion of my superhuman American tongue.  They are hugely popular here, and you can find them in nearly any traditional pintxo bar.

What are they? Sautee some red pepper, onion and perhaps garlic or leek in olive oil, which serves as the base for a bechamel.  To the bechamel you add the meat from mussels, steamed and removed from their shells. Some folks like to chop it up into smaller pieces, some leave it on the larger side. Then this mixture is cooled and piped back into the mussel shells, and the whole thing is breaded and fried.

Delicious and classic, they are seafood lover's answer to the croqueta de jamón. Put it on your pintxo bucket list. And if you have one, shoot me an email because we should probably be friends.