12 traditional Spanish dishes you must try at least once
Time to try some yummilicious Spanish dishes! You may have certainly heard of them before, as some of these (e. g., paella, tortilla, gazpacho) are traditional Spanish food staples (and have perhaps received even media coverage through films). But here you will have the opportunity to get to know them more closely.
TRADITIONAL SPANISH FOOD
One of the most renowned dishes from the Iberian Peninsula, while most Spaniards consider it the national dish for excellence, those from the Valencian region take it rather as a regional attraction.
Paella may usually feature short-grain rice, chicken, rabbit, vegetables, green beans, garrofons, and saffron, but apart from the Valencian presentation, there could be slight variations.
The word paella means frying pan in Valencian (you can see where the dish came from), referring to the wide and flat pan used for cooking.
Interestingly enough, it is discussed that the word is a cognate of padella, which in Italian means exactly the same thing. They would come from the Latin patella.
Fideuá is the pronunciation in Valencian for fideuada, which is a way of stating a large number of noodles that you could use for the preparation of this dish.
It looks a lot like paella (more like arròs a band); however, here we will be using pasta instead of rice. Its main ingredients are vermicelli, white-fleshed fish, and crustaceans.
According to a legend, it was invented during a sea travel, in which a captain that was really fond of rice, left the rest of the crew without their due portion.
The cook on board decided to try making arrós a banda with noodles instead of rice, in an effort to make it not as appealing to the captain. However, as we may see, the dish was a total success.
Also featuring as a Spanish omelet, this is one of the best-known and best-selling Spanish meals. Its ingredients are essentially eggs, potatoes, and vegetable oil; variations may include onions.
Historically, tortilla’s first reference was from a Navarrese document. It also seems that the spread of tortillas started from the Carlist Wars, to alleviate hunger among Carlist soldiers and the population as well.
The dish is very popular in Spanish America as well, where the word “Española” has to be added to avoid confusion with the Mexican flatbread -known as tortilla as well-.
Keep in mind that potatoes and onions need to be cooked in moderately hot oil, without getting fried, just to the point of becoming soft enough to add them to the stirred raw egg base.
This is a cold soup, very refreshing and great for summer days.
The main ingredients are water, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, tomato, cucumber, and other vegetables.
So, go figure out how tasty this will turn out to be once you drain it from your blender, even though we recommend that you go traditional and a mortar with a pestle in order to prevent a foamy cream.
Northerners may add cumin and smoked sweet paprika to the mix.
It could be taken as a variation of gazpacho, but…
it tends to be creamier and thicker as it tosses in more olive oil and bread.
Also, it usually takes a more orange tinge compared to gazpacho.
Additionally, there is no need to be confused with the Italian salmoriglio: regardless -of the fact- the dishes share an etymology, but they are different when it comes to their preparation and taste.
6. COCIDO MADRILEÑO
Normally eaten in winter and cold months, it is a chickpea-based stew. Its roots are traced back to the Sephardic Jewish adafina, which was a kosher dish in which there were eggs instead of meat.
However, out of fear of not proving themselves as worthy converts to Christianism during the middle ages (or being Marranos, which is a way to name Spanish undercover Jews), these converts began to add pork products to the dish.
It was initially a humble dish but as it was integrated into restaurant menus, it became a specialty-demanding dish. It has a way of being served of its own, called the vuelcos (or toppings)
7. FABADA ASTURIANA
Fabada asturiana, or just fabada, is another of the typical Spanish dishes for winter lunches, as it is rich in calories, from the Northern Asturias region.
It is based on white beans called fabes de la Granja, which are a particularly large leguminous from Spain. These are soaked overnight before being put on the fire, then plenty of pork meat -including morcillas or blood sausages-.
Additionally, it has olive oil, sweet paprika, garlic, and salt, and you can accompany it with red wine or cider.
8. PULPO A LA GALLEGA
Named polbo á feira in the Galician language -as it is a Galician traditional dish-.
Here we are presenting Galician-style octopus:
Octopuses are boiled in water inside a cauldron. You could flavor this dish with paprika and olive oil. Ourense and Lugo’s provinces have a good reputation regarding the preparation of this dish.
9. PATATAS BRAVAS
A very popular tapa -food which is usually an appetizer in bars-, patatas bravas contains patatas, aceite de oliva, salsa brava, and salt.
Salsa brava is a sort of hot sauce that gives the tapa its name -brava here means spicy-. Firstly, potatoes are cut into 2-cm-wide cubes, then fried in olive oil and served with salsa brava. The same sauce could use at times on mussels.
Originating from the historical region of La Mancha, but, it prepares now all over Spain.
Its ingredients include tomatoes, onions, eggplants or courgettes, green and red peppers, and olive oil. It serves warm, over bread, with a fried egg on top or pieces of cured ham. Also, pisto could use it to stuff tartlets and pasties up.
11. MIGAS MANCHEGAS
A hypercaloric meal that we recommend serving in moderate portions for the cold months. This dish’s preparation is meant to be the use of bread -when it becomes stiff over time-, mixing it with other usually meaty ingredients, plus garlic and olive oil.
This dish was introduced by shepherds and has become very popular in Spain, and even out of it (brought onto our tables by born-abroad children of Spanish shepherds).
12. CHOCOLATE CON CHURROS
A very well-known Spanish dish, which has an interesting history.
Also, it’s a fact that one of the materials belonged and took overseas by the Spaniards…
…who had come up with it after cocoa -and subsequently chocolate- which came from the Columbus expeditions to America and then, delivered to Spain.
It mixes the salty and oily flavor of churros made of deep-fried choux pastry (from the mix of flour, water, butter, eggs, and salt) with the bittersweet charm of chocolate.
As already said, it has become such an extremely known dish overseas that you can see be selling on the streets of countries like:
IN THE END…
Thus, There is no better way to have a taste of a different culture than trying its typical dishes.
Lastly, if you are interested in Spanish culture, don’t forget to try these traditional Spanish dishes. We are sure you will love them!