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Spanish Fish with Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

spanish shark with tomatoes and smoked paprika

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

This is a knockout dish. I read about something called tiburon con pasas y pinones in Calvin Schwabe’s classic book Unmentionable Cuisine. No real recipe, just ingredients. So I made it up from there. The dish Schwabe describes has both pine nuts and raisins in it. I don’t mush like raisins, so I left them out. You could put 2 tablespoons in if you’d like.

Shark is a firm, white fish. I used leopard shark, which I caught in San Francisco Bay, but you could also use dogfish or any small shark. Many sharks are not doing well population-wise, so I do not recommend that you buy shark for this recipe. Only use shark if you catch it yourself, If you are buying fish, use farm-raised sturgeon, tilefish, white seabass, tautog, halibut — really any very firm, white fish you can slice into chunks.

Have everything ready before you start this dish, as it comes together fast. Serve with saffron rice, potatoes or just crusty bread. White wine is a must with this, although an ice cold pilsner would be good, too.

Serves 2, and can be doubled.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

  • 12 ounces skinless fillets of shark or other firm, white fish
  • Salt
  • Flour for dusting
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, slivered
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons white wine or water
  • 3-4 Roma or other paste tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
  • Black pepper


  1. Cut the shark, or any other firm, white fish, into chunks of about an inch across. Salt well and set aside.
  2. Put a saute pan over medium heat and add the pine nuts. Toast them well. Do not walk away at this point, because pine nuts can burn in a hurry. Toss the pan frequently to toast all sides of the nuts, and to see if any are burning. Once you get a dark brown on even a few nuts, turn off the heat and pour the nuts into a bowl.
  3. Wipe the saute pan down with a paper towel and add the olive oil. Turn the heat to medium high.
  4. Dust the shark in the flour and saute in the oil. I cook two of the four sides well, for 2-3 minutes per side, and then just “kiss” the other sides to lightly brown them. Set the cooked shark on a paper towel to drain.
  5. Add the garlic and pine nuts to the pan and saute. Add a little more olive oil if the fish soaked up too much. The second you see the garlic brown, add the chopped tomatoes and toss to combine. Grind some black pepper over everything.
  6. Add the wine or water and scrape up any stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
  7. Sprinkle a little salt over the tomatoes, then add the fish back to the pan. Sprinkle with the smoked paprika and the parsley and toss to combine. Cook for only another minute or so, just to coat everything evenly. It is very important that you not cook the tomatoes so much they break down. Just a couple minutes is all they need. Serve at once. I’d recommend a nice white wine, maybe a Torrontes, or an Albarino.

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2 responses to “Spanish Fish with Tomatoes and Pine Nuts”

  1. Ainitfunny

    Sharks have uric acid in their flesh which (to most people) gives them a very bad taste unless care is taken to neutralize the uric acid in the meat before cooking. All it takes is soaking the meat in either lemon water or vinegar water overnight in the fridge (one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice per cup water) to neutralize the uric acid in the meat and thus making it one of the very finest tasting fish obtainable.

    Tip: You cannot “rush the process” by only soaking for a couple hours in a higher concentration of vinegar or lemon water! It takes time for the solution to penetrate the meat and neutralize the uric acid. then, you can prepare the shark meat by any conventional method or recipe.

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