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Basque-Style Fish and Clams in Parsley-Garlic Sauce

4 Servings

50 minutes

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Merluza en salsa verde con almejas, or hake in green sauce with clams, is a classic dish from the Basque Country in northern Spain. Fish fillets are gently simmered until flaky in a parsley, garlic and olive oil sauce, then are finished with cooked clams in their shells. At the seaside restaurant Txoko Getaria, we tasted an especially delicious version in which the oceanic notes of the fish and clams were in perfect balance with the fresh flavors and luxe character of the sauce. Txoko takes a nontraditional, multistep approach to preparing the dish: the fish is parcooked on the grill and the sauce is made by stirring a fragrant pesto-like blend of parsley, garlic, almonds, olive oil and Idiazabal cheese into a base comprised of flour-thickened, oil-and-garlic-enriched fish stock. We adapted their formula and devised a method that requires only a food processor and a skillet but yields delicious results in only about an hour. The cubanelle pepper (or jalapeño chili) in our recipe is a stand-in for hard-to-source Basque guindilla chilies. And if you cannot find Idiazabal cheese, a Basque sheep’s-milk cheese with a subtle smokiness, manchego is a good substitute. Either skin-on or skinless fish fillets work here, but try to choose pieces that are uniformly about 1 inch thick.




Don’t omit the cheese. The pairing of fish and cheese is indeed unusual but the Idiazabal lends complex flavor without tasting distinctly cheesy. After adding the fish to the skillet, don’t allow the poaching liquid to reach a full simmer; slow, gentle bubbling is best to ensure the fillets are perfectly cooked.

50 minutes


  • 1

    ounce Idiazabal or manchego cheese (without rind), cut into rough 1-inch chunks

  • ¼

    cup sliced almonds, toasted


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Ron Y.
August 26, 2022
Excellent flavor, and an easy weeknight recipe. I used halibut and it turned out beautifully.
Berenice E.
April 12, 2023
Made it for very special guests and did not disappoint! Very delicate yet rich, give it a try!
Mark V.

This was a fun dish. I used a jalapeño, and it was not a spicy dish in any way. We weren’t able to get hake or grouper, and while cod was available, I figured we’d try some halibut and some sea bass. Both were excellent. It’s a very forgiving dish, in my opinion, because precisely measuring each of the ingredients is not critical to the end result. I definitely added some salt at the end, as the recipe suggests. Overall, this struck me as a what-you-see-you-get recipe, and who wouldn’t want this? Spanish clams and fish in a parsley/wine pesto? If you’ve made it to this written review, rest assured, you’ll like it.

Jenny C.

Agreed, This was Great. I used Cod and Jalepeno as well. Not hot, and I doubled the garlic. also- could barely tell. Very fun dish. I started with some padron peppers!

Sandy Brown J.

I used halibut last night, having no idea what hake is. I did the recipe as written. The presentation was so bright green surrounded by the clams that my husband was moved to put a photo of it on Facebook:) We added a Butter Chardonnay and called it quite a delicious Friday night.