Our group of six are the only customers in the fish shop in Barbate, on the Costa de la Luz. The gleaming display cabinets and hushed atmosphere are a world away from the bustling market nearby, where we spent the morning watching shoppers fill baskets with fresh figs, almonds, mussels, clams, lobster and sea bass.
But there are some regional delicacies you can’t find at the market, hence our visit to Gadira, a shop on a small industrial estate. It is here that the limited quota of bluefin tuna – caught using traditional almadraba fixed nets – is processed. Although most is exported to Japan, this highly prized, expensive tuna is a big draw for this part of Andalucia. Bluefin, known as atún rojo because of its pinkish-red flesh, might weigh up to 250kg. Behind Gadira’s counters are tins and vacuum-packed portions of every inch of the fish, from belly and loin to liver, heart and roe.
We are here for the mojama, a salt-cured, air-dried slab that is more sought-after than Spain’s ibérico hams. And it should be at €100 (£86) a kilo. It isn’t even the most expensive product here (that would be cured roe at €140 a kilo).
This shop has more in common with a precious gem trader than a fishmonger, so we are lucky our guide and host, chef José Pizarro, is one of its best customers.
Pizarro – who was born in Extremadura – has lived in the UK since 1999, where he has six restaurants in and around London. He champions the best Spanish produce, from Cinco Jotas jamón ibérico to Reserva Catalina Cantabrian anchovies and Osborne sherry.
He picks up a couple of packets of the roe – hueva – as well as the mojama. And where better to try it than on the terrace of his new holiday home, Iris Zahara?