First time for Merzula en salsa verde

A couple of weekends ago our Basque club had its annual Mus tournament.

This is the definition from Wikipedia for Mus:

Mus is a Basque card game, widely played in the Basque Country, and also in the rest of Spain and to a lesser extent in France. It is a vying game. The word Mus is believed to come from the French word mouche (“fly”), from Latin mussula.
In Spain it is the most played card game, spawning several Mus clubs or peñas and becoming a staple game among college students. It is not uncommon to hear the Basque terms, such as órdago (from Basque hor dago “there it is” used by Spanish speakers, often without them being aware of the literal meanings of the terms and phrases.
Basque emigrants carried the game to other countries such as the USA and Australia, where it is played in Basque clubs. Nowadays there is an international Mus tournament, in addition to many national and regional competitions.

There were about 8 teams of men competing in our tournament. There is always a lot of shouting, insulting and salty Basque language. It is traditional to serve them tripe and pigs feet for lunch. One of the other women in the club makes this dish and also flan for the men. My husband had 5 bowls of tripe and pigs feet! It’s his favorite dish of all time. I was in charge of making a fish dish, salad and another dessert. I made Merzula en Salsa Verde or Hake in Green Sauce and for dessert Gateau Basque. Surprisingly I had never made salsa verde before. I had found hake at of all places Costco! It was frozen, but in Idaho fresh fish isn’t that easy to come by and definitely not hake.

One side note…always taste the wine before you use it.  I was in a hurry and didn’t and had to make another batch of the sauce.  The wine was really bad!


2 1/4 pounds of hake fillets (if frozen make sure to thaw the fillets)


1/3 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup clam juice

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley


Finely chop 2 cloves garlic.


Add garlic to 1/3 cup olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Cook until garlic just begins to color, about 5 minutes


Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over the garlic and mix thoroughly, 1 to 2 minutes.


Add 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of clam juice, 1/2 cup white wine, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley and salt to taste. Decrease the heat to medium and cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thick, about 5 minutes. Add more cold water if you think the sauce is too thick.


Carefully clean, rinse and pat dry the hake.  Sprinkle the fillets lightly with salt.


Add the hake to the pan, in a single layer.  Cook the fillets in the sauce for 2 minutes, swirling the pan constantly and sliding the pan on and off the fire until the hake gives off some of their gelatin.   Flip the fillets once and cook until the fish is opaque, but not overcooked about 2 or 3 minutes on the other side.  The sauce should be a very light green and slightly thick, but still smooth and light.


Serve immediately.

Basque Salad Dressing

The Woolgrower Hotel in Los Banos, California is a family style Basque Restaurant. You will be seated at red checkered oil cloth covered tables with other diners. This time of year at lunch there will be men in camouflage that have been duck hunting in the nearby duck club. It is a place that we try to go to when we are visiting family in the Central Valley in California. You have your choice of entrees: pork chops, roast lamb, roasted chicken, steak, lamb chops, etc. It varies slightly especially if they run out of a popular item. There is always a lot of food and it comes out from the kitchen fast…so pace yourself if you happen to go there. First course is homemade vegetable soup, bread and beans, next comes lettuce salad with the most fabulous dressing ever. Then lamb stew and sometimes potato salad. Your entree follows along with french fries. There are bottles of house wine included with your meal. Dessert is dry Jack cheese and ice cream in a plastic cup. Please don’t ask for mint jelly if you go…this is a Basque restaurant. Also, you can ask the server for a plastic bag to take home your leftover entree. I have yet gone and not taken home half of my entree. Another note…they only take cash…no credit cards or checks. I checked the reviews on Yelp and some people complained about the ambiance. This isn’t a fancy restaurant this is a family style restaurant with good simple food at a reasonable price ($20+ tip). If you leave there hungry it is your own fault.

My husband and I have tried to copy the salad dressing that they serve with the lettuce. Through trial and error we came up with something similar…but not quite. I have had friends tell me that it tastes just like it, but I think it tastes “almost” like it.

Here is our recipe…

Basque Salad Dressing
1 1/3 cup cider vinegar
4 large cloves garlic, finely minced or double pressed
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 cups canola oil
2 cups Best Foods mayonnaise
pinch of black pepper


In a bowl that will allow easy whisking, add garlic to the vinegar. Whisk vigorously. Let sit a few minutes.

Whisk in salt, sugar, dry mustard and dash of pepper to vinegar in bowl. Blend ingredients.


Vigorously whisk in oil and then add mayonnaise. 20130220-205004.jpg

Here is the finished product. It will keep for a month in the refrigerator. Just shake it before use as it separates.