Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

For fish soup, by default, sea frog

  • My grandmother told me many times about the existence of a fish, which is common in many kitchens in coastal villages. It was considered particularly popular in fish soup making because of its baked taste. I always remember on the plate, so until recently it has been an unconscious species when I've been up to the big aquarium at the fishmonger counter. If you look well, though, it's a fish with a striking appearance, probably the one with the largest head of the body.

22 April 2024 - 05:00
Arraigorría (Chelidonichthys lucerne)

GROUP: Vertebrate / Fish.

SIZE: 30-75 cm.

WHERE DO YOU LIVE? to the east of the Atlantic Ocean, from Norway to Africa and in the Mediterranean, coming particularly to the Basque coast towards May-June to lay eggs.

WHAT DOES IT EAT? Crustaceans, fish and molluscs of sandy seabed.


In Mundaka “kolo”, in Lekeitio “kutza”, in Getaria “boluntina”, in Hondarribia “pexpelanta”… Also known as “arraigorri” for its color. It's about May-June when it gets closer to our shores to spawn. The early stages (larvae) born from them are pelagic, as in the water column they live adrift during the first weeks. But once the swimming potential has been attained, they approach the seabed to become benthic species and maintain a close relationship with the seabed over a lifetime. Thus, throughout the year they will live in sandy and muddy backgrounds, usually solitary. Maybe when they want to meet each other, or to avoid the dangers detected, they emit a "cro-cro" sound like frogs moving the muscles associated with their gas balloon. Fishermen say the lightning call can also be heard when it comes out of the water. It is said that this is the case when it comes to hand and hand unloading and hand-wrapping of fish with artisanal fishing gear (Mallabakarra or link).

Although it may appear throughout the year, this species is covered in small quantities, as a sign of its solitary character, along with other smaller triglides that are often part of the family, such as cuco (Chelidonichthys cucuculus), crushed putxano (C. lastoviza) or crude (Trigla lyra). However, those who know the Arraigorri distinguish it well, at least at the time of purchase. The head of Arraigorri is the largest of them, with a wide front and a steep straight slope that leads to his mouth. The eyes are not very large on the side of the head, but their mouth, which can spread enormously to swallow large dams. At the end of the head, on each side, it has large fins that resemble the wings, decorated with blue edges, which can explain the “swallow”, that is, it is also known in Spanish as “swallow” in different coastal localities. Evolution has freed three of its spokes from the fins, which today introduce them into the sand of the bottom as if they were legs. Even if they appear to be walking, it uses them to detect the movements of its prey, be it crabs, other crustaceans, fish or mollusks, this head that seems to have the helmet tied forever tells us that it has thick jaws to swallow or reduce hard prey.

Because of its life on the seabed, it's a white fish, and that's the inside, white meat, yes, with little fat, but more compact than many others. However, by eating seafood, this fish is more tasty: it is not on the same level as the anglerfish, but by the similarity of its meat it will allow us to obtain results as tasty as this. It is a fish of the day that both artisanal fishermen and our grandparents have known well, so it is native and healthy. In addition, probably out of ignorance, cheaper than many others. Therefore, he knows, cares, values and, of course, saborea. Or the other way around, it's the same.

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