Horse mackerel with tapioca, garlic flowers and liquefied watermelon and tomato

Chicharro confitado con tapioca, flores de ajo y licuado de sandía y tomate
Chef: Isaac Salaberria
Country: España
City: 20120 Hernani (Guipúzcoa)
Address: Ctra. de Goizueta
(+34) 943550031

One of those brilliant dishes that has succeeded in dazzling even the most atavistic of diners—those that question anything that is not the habitual recipe—char-grilled or with refrito (olive oil and sautéed garlic, typically Basque). It dazzles, and this is no small feat for various reasons. First, because the fish gives the sensation of being semi-raw due to its cooking at low temperature—a technique of which Isaac Salaberria is a master. Specifically, the filet is submerged in olive oil, where it remains at 40º C for 5 minutes, after which it is removed from heat and left in the oil for 1 hour. The result is an homage to nature, as much in flavor as texture, in which the technique makes a delicacy out of something that until now has not been. We have never seen such a bold and precise treatment of this fish.

The talent is evident in two other elements: the garnish and the sauce, which, as with the pancetta, is offered on the side in a cup and must be taken in small sips with the horse mackerel. A daring sauce that provides an electrifying and delicious contrast to the primary ingredient—it consists of liquefied watermelon, to which two pieces of tomato concassé and a few magical drops of balsamic vinegar are added. It has great substance and stands out radically against the fish to provide a fruity, refreshing and capricious element. The garnish, tapioca cooked in chicken stock and then impregnated with garlic oil, garlic flowers and spring onion, is a more traditional touch: though in altered form, it maintains an aspect of historical memory, a touch characteristic of this gifted chef.

The Recipe


  • 100 g horse mackerel, filleted
  • olive oil, 0.4º acidity
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Tapioca:
  • 100 c.c. chicken stock
  • Garlic oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt
  • Spring onion
  • Garlic flower or onion sprout
  • Watermelon juice:
  • 1 watermelon
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Gelatin sheets


First prepare the horse mackerel. Submerge the horse mackerel filet in oil at 52ºC for 6 minutes. Allow to rest for 20 hours.

Cook the tapioca in the chicken stock. Strain the stock and emulsify the tapioca with the garlic-infused oil and balsamic vinegar, then add the finely chopped spring onion and salt to taste. The tapioca should be served warm.

Liquefy the watermelon. Add vinegar to taste and the gelatin sheets to give it the necessary density. Serve the juice cold in a shot glass, with a few drops of olive oil.


Serve the horse mackerel in the dish, accompanied by a bit of tapioca and the garlic flowers or onion sprouts. Arrange the watermelon shot glass to one side.