Nick Butcher on Fiestas and Foods of Spain

Recipe for Chocos con habas -Cuttlefish with broad beans



Nobody really knows why San Sebastián is patron saint of the city of Huelva in the west of Andalucía, but whatever the reason, he is, and his day his marked with a procession and the eating of palm hearts and a very popular local dish called chocos con habas. 'Chocos' are another name for cuttlefish (normally called jibia) and are combined here with fresh broad beans (fava beans in the USA).

Now is a good time to make this dish as the first of the new season's beans are coming into the shops. If the pods are really thin and tender, with only three or four little beans inside, cut them up and add them to the pot if you like. Young broad bean pods are tender and delicious.

There is no one standard recipe for this dish: other cooks add peppers or use white wine as the cooking liquid. Small squid can be used instead of the cuttlefish. Feeds 4 as a generous tapa.


1kg small cuttlefish, cleaned (cut in chunks if the cuttlefish are on the large side)
1kg young broad beans (weight before shelling)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tsp paprika (pimentón dulce)
1 bay leaf, torn into 3 or 4 pieces

  1. In a wide frying pan or saute pan heat the oil and soften the onion well with garlic, parsley and a pinch of salt.
  2. Add the paprika, mix in well, then add the cuttlefish (or squid) and cook for a few minutes until the fish changes colour.
  3. Add the beans, bay leaf and a touch more salt. Barely cover with water. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer, uncovered, until everthing is tender and just coated in a little sauce.
Chocos con habas