David Chang's Favorite Fish Dish Is Found In Spain

Looks can be deceiving when it comes to delicious foods, but for Chef David Chang, appearance does little to stifle his curiosity. On TikTok, Chang waxes poetic about grilled turbot — specifically one served at a restaurant in northern Spain. "It's the food I think about the most," Chang confesses while watching a fish fillet held firmly in place by iron tongs as it roasts over a grill and burning coals. 

Turbot is a flat fish that can grow over three feet in diameter and weigh in at over 30 pounds. The fleshy fillets are thick and meaty, and the size of the fish has warranted its own contraption for cooking – a kettle-like iron that opens like a pot but is shaped like a handled kite. Turbot is a fish that doesn't have scales and because the fish has been called one of the finest available in markets, can collect a pretty penny when sold. At Elkano, particularly, the fish is a delicacy.

Elkano is a restaurant outside of San Sebastián in a coastal area that is known for fresh fish. While many of the items at Elkano have earned praise, the establishment has cemented its reputation for grilling whole turbot fish and serving the deboned flesh to diners. 

A meal to remember

Chang explains that the fish served at Elkano can be eaten like barbecue ribs, and the fish is flavored with sherry vinegar and olive oil. Before the turbot is placed onto the grill, the fish is generously salted on both sides. While the fish cooks, as shared with DW News, a mixture of vinegar, oil, and salt ("Agua de Lourdes") is drizzled onto the fish, and chefs remove the bones after the skin of the fish has become golden, crispy, and bubbly. 

Though whole turbot fish have been placed onto grills at Elkano since 1964, in 2014, Elkano bagged a Michelin star. To this day, gourmands like Chang travel to sample turbot that is grilled over the oak charcoals laid by Elkano's chefs. "Everything at Elkano is fantastic but it's their turbot that I dream about ... I think about this dish all the time," Chang wrote on TikTok.

The taste of turbot can vary depending on which part of the fish is sampled and, of course, how much of Elkano's oil-vinegar mixture is added tableside. Delicious fish prepared by experienced chefs right off the Bay of Biscay — it's no wonder Chang can't get this meal off his mind.