Tales of Spain: Spanish Tortilla, Take 4


Trial and Error to finally create a "real" spanish tortilla![Quick update:  I am back home in my little apartment in the Sarriko district of Bilbao.  The hospital, in its infinite kindness, only kept me bedridden for two nights after my surgery and finally sent me home in an ambulance.  The first time I ever ride an ambulance, and it’s in Spain . . .  ¡Ay, Dios mío!]

[Now, my leg is propped up, and I am watching television in Spanish (or, oftentimes, Basque).  I make do with hobbling around the little apartment with a chair as my temporary crutch, and most simple tasks such as doing laundry are exhausting.  I can do bits and pieces here and there, and then I have to rest.  Luckily, I don’t have too much pain.  With my spare time, I have just been studying or reading.]

ANYWAY!  On to the food . . . When in España . . .

The picture you see above is my fourth attempt at making a Spanish Tortilla.  And only my first successful one.

After arriving in Spain (oh so long ago, it seems now), I discovered the Spanish Tortilla.  Unlike the tortilla that Americans and Latin Americans are used to– a thin flatbread that is used to wrap burritos, etc.– a Spanish Tortilla is actually an omelet.  I was confused, but pleasantly surprised to find that the thick cake sitting out on the pintxos bar was both tasty and filling.  And, true to form, I decided I would learn how to make it.  The recipe is below.

Cooking the perfect tortillaFirst of all, it is important you have a very good, nonstick pan.  If you don’t have a nonstick pan, or if your nonstick pan is starting to become somewhat sticky . . . then stop.  Don’t attempt making tortilla.  You will just be frustrated and unhappy and come back with lumpy scrambled eggs and potatoes.  No fun, I promise you.

The first three times I tried to make tortilla, I was using the frying pans that had been residing quietly in our kitchen when I arrived.  Yeah.  Major FAIL.

But one complaint and several confusing emails with my landlord later (he has horrendous English, so I ultimately asked him to write his emails to me in Spanish because it would just be easier to understand), we received not just a new pan, but a whole set of pots and pans from IKEA!  He also brought a flat screen TV, which has been my lifesaver during my incarceration on my couch.  And it now receives more than four channels!  (Originally, it only received four channels, three of which were in the Basque language…)

And now, I can make Spanish tortilla!

Tortilla Española– Spanish Omelet

Makes 4 pintxos


  • 1 8-inch, nonstick frying pan
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • salt, to taste


  1. Peel the potato and cut it into small pieces that are at most a quarter inch (half cm) thick.  Dice the onions.
  2. Heat the a larger sauté pan on medium high and add half the butter.
  3. Sauté the onions until they are translucent, and then add the potatoes.  Add a few pinches of salt.
  4. Sauté the potatoes and onions on medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that the potatoes and onions do not brown.  I find that it helps to add a little bit of water so that the potatoes cook faster.
  5. Once the potatoes are cooked through, remove the onions and potatoes from the heat.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat the four eggs.  Add the onions and potatoes to the bowl, mixing thoroughly so that the entire mixture is covered with egg.
  7. Heat the 8″ pan on medium heat and add the butter.
  8. Add the egg mixture to the pan, and let it begin to set.  Allow it to set, wiggling the pan and ensuring the edges are not sticking to the pan, for approximately 5 minutes.  You may have to turn the heat down to medium-low to ensure that the egg mixture is not burning.
  9. Take the plate and put it flat over the pan, and then quickly and smoothly flip the pan over.  The tortilla should end up all on the plate.  My first three tries, half the egg remained in the pan . . .
  10. Slide the omelet back onto the pan, and cook the omelet for another 3-5 minutes.
  11. Once it’s done, flip the tortilla out onto a plate, let cool for a bit, and serve with sliced baguette!  You can also use it as the filling for a sandwich (also called a bocadillo/bokata).

*Note:  You can put other things in the tortilla.  I’ve put mushrooms, iberico ham, cheese . . . you name it, and you can put it in!  Enjoy!


2 Responses to “Tales of Spain: Spanish Tortilla, Take 4”

  1. man that looks delicious

  2. Hi Jeanne, love your blog on food! Hope you can discover all the secrets in the Basque recipes…

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