All About Bullit: Ibiza's fish-boil-paella multi-course meal
Separated by only 100 miles, Ibiza and Valencia share some food customs, naturally. Typical Ibicenco foods include the sausages botifarra and sobrasada, which can also be found on the mainland. Surprisingly to me, a lot of the typical products and dishes involve meat, when I had thought that seafood would play more of a starring role.
One dish that does highlight seafood is the dish "bullit." It's a cool concept of featuring the same produce in different forms, akin to Peking Duck, where first you eat the skin, then the meat inside of buns, then a broth with the duck bones.
We tried bullit at the restaurant Es Calo, in Es Calo ;) , on the island of Formentera. They started us off with olives and this squiggly aioli to eat with bread.
Then the bullit's first course came. To make bullit, they first boil fish with potatoes to make fish stock, with which they make a paella. So the first course is this boiled fish; I think they used grouper and a local fish called rotja.
Our first course was served with this aioli, which is thinned a bit with the fish broth, on the side. Apparently other restaurants serve it with the sauce already on the fish. Similar to my bollito misto in Parma, once something is boiled, there isn't much flavor left in the meat itself. Well, the potatoes were decently flavorful, but the aioli couldn't quite resuscitate the bland fish.
Then the stock is used to make "arroz a banda," which is like paella but with just rice and tiny pieces of cuttlefish. Our waiter is showing us the pan first, because at this restaurant they actually plate it here, rather than serving the pan for you to serve yourself from, or eat directly from.
This is where all of the flavor of the broth ends up! The arroz was actually a bit most for my liking; I prefer it quite dry.
So there you have bullit. It's not cheap in the restaurants of Ibiza and Formentera, where restaurant prices are already quite high to begin with. But it's worth a try at least once. Usually to make any seafood or fish-based paella or arroz, you need to first make the fumet, or fish stock. Usually you can make it with bits and ends of fish like the fins and head, but it does make sense to make a dish out of that step in the process if you use whole fish!