Try the most famous bar bite in San Sebastián: the Gilda Pintxo – a culinary masterpiece that pays homage to high-quality, delicious simplicity. This renowned snack features the bold trio of pickled guindilla pepper, umami-laden anchovy, and buttery manzanilla olive, creating an explosion of flavor that transcends the sum of its parts.
Legend has it that the Gilda Pintxo originated at Bar Casa Vallés and was named after Rita Hayworth's character in the film Gilda. Some attribute the association to the dish's spicy kick while others say that, when stood up, a Gilda looks like Hayworth's silhouette (thoughts?). Regardless, these delectable pintxos have endured and are beginning to make their mark on American appetizer and bar menus.
What Is A Pintxo?
Pintxos, pronounced "pin-chos", and meaning thorns or spikes, are one-bite treats prevalent in the bars of northern Spain. Pintxos are usually smaller than tapas but there can be overlap. Check out tuna stuffed peppers, bacon-wrapped prunes and goat cheese & caramelized onion bruschetta for just a few examples.
The Gilda: The Basque's Most Famous Pintxo
Amidst all the delightful variety of pintxos, The Gilda stands out as the most famous.
I prepared these flavor-packed pintxos for a dinner party and was pleasantly surprised that, despite the presence of anchovies, every guest not only tried them but went back for more. The lesson? Keep guindilla peppers, high-quality anchovies, and olives in your pantry for an impressive appetizer at a moment's notice.
Ingredients for Gilda Pintxos
Here's what you'll need to dive in and make authentic Gildas:
- High-quality anchovies in oil: Opt for trusted brands like Arroyabe, Donostia, Fishwife, Martel, Ortiz and Olasagasti for best results.
- Guindilla Peppers (piparra peppers): Accept no substitutes - the distinctive flavor of guindilla peppers is essential for an authentic Gilda. Find them on Amazon or at select grocery stores.
- Olives: While traditionally made with pitted manzanilla olives, any buttery green olive will suffice.
- Toothpicks: Or use a swizzle stick if making for a martini garnish.
How To Make Classic Gildas
Follow these simple steps to create Gilda Pintxos:
- Prepare your ingredients: Drain olives, guindilla peppers and anchovies, laying them on your work surface. Pro tip: Reserve the anchovy oil for drizzling over roasted vegetables or using in a salad dressing.
- Make your skewers: Thread toothpicks through anchovy, olive, back through anchovy, pepper, and back through anchovy (yet again) - see photo. Repeat until all anchovies are used.
- Enjoy!: Arrange them on a platter and marvel while your guests instinctively pick up their Gildas, raise them in a toast like cocktails and then savor their explosive flavors. These pintxos also make an incredible garnish for a martini, especially a dirty one.
It's as easy as that! You can also create Gilda Pintxo variations by doubling ingredients or skewering them together in interesting ways.
Make these dazzling Gilda Pintxos and see why they're on a whole other level. Serve them for any occasion and delight your guests with their unique flavors.
If you make these Gildas I hope you'll come back and leave a star rating and a comment, I'd love to know what you think!