Whether you’re only there for a long weekend or you’ve got two whole weeks full to bursting with local attractions and entertainment planned for your next holiday in Spain, taking time out to try the cultural dishes is just as important as all the rest. Like every other country, there are certain dishes that the Spanish specialise in and do better than anywhere else in the world.
So where to start? We take a look at 8 signature Spanish dishes that you absolutely must try while on holiday. Some dishes are more famous than others, but that doesn’t make them any less sumptuous, particularly when you consider that Spanish chefs are in completely their element when cooking a traditional Spanish dish.
To Start With
Every good meal needs a decent starter. You want something to nibble on while you peruse the main course menu, or perhaps you’re not feeling that hungry and you just want a light bite to eat? Here are a couple of tantalising dishes to whet your appetite.
To sum up Gazpacho in as few words as possible; its cold tomato soup. However, these are handpicked, delicious ripened tomatoes combined with cucumber, onion, garlic to taste, wine, vinegar, salt and a little olive oil. Some more adventurous recipes for Gazpacho include ham as well, but it is not always a necessity. An excellent dish to try on a hot summer’s day in Spain.
Imagine thinly sliced onions, garlic, courgettes, peppers and tomatoes slow fried in olive oil; it is the true Spanish ratatouille. Pisto is a largely vegetarian dish, although it can be served with fried eggs or chorizo and it is utterly delicious both with and without.
Onto the Main
The Spanish love their blended spices. When looking for a good main course in Spain you can guarantee that it is going to be simple, yet full of flavour.
Originating in Valencia, Paella is one of the more well-known Spanish dishes, traditionally involving rice. There are three main types of Paella in Spain, the Seafood Paella; rice, seafood and spices, the Paella Valenciana; rice, land snails, an assortment of meats (duck, rabbit,
chicken etc.) beans and spices and finally the Paella Mixta; rice, seafood, chicken and various herbs and spices. It is often garnished with lemon or lime juice.
4.Pollo al Ajillo
Add a few unpeeled cloves of garlic to olive oil and fry for a few minutes, then take the garlic out before adding your pieces of chicken. Once your chicken is fully cooked, chuck the garlic back in along with rosemary, thyme and dry sherry or white wine. Pollo al Ajillo is a traditional family dish and one of those ‘secret recipe’ types that are passed down from generation to generation. Still, it is a much loved and celebrated dish, both for natives and tourists who are just visiting.
Got a sweet tooth and still hungry for more ‘culture’? Not to worry! We’ve got you covered.
5. Crema Catalena
Also known as the ‘Spanish Crème Brulee’, there are a few minor differences between the two dishes. In direct contrast to Crème Brulee, Crema Catalena is always served cold, with a lemon rind infused custard instead of the decidedly more average vanilla flavour. When comparing the two, Crema Catalena is certainly more refreshing on a hot day.
Turrón is a popular sweet snack that is often eaten around Christmas when you can see it being sold in abundance at the Christmas markets. Turrón is made with locally grown almonds (usually from the town of Jijona in the Alicante province), honey and egg white mixed together to create almond nougat. You can get soft Turrón or hard Turrón, which contains larger almond pieces.
If you’re someone who prefers quick and easy dinners as opposed to sitting down and ordering at a restaurant, Spain has an extensive selection of street foods to choose from. Street foods are great for a quick snack if you don’t have time to sit down for a proper meal, or if you just want to sample some of the traditional cuisine around without having to pay through the nose for it.
7. Grilled Fish on the Beach
Straight from the fishermen themselves! Wander along the beaches of the Costa del Sol for any length of time in the afternoon and you are sure to find a boat filled with sand where the local fisherman produce this quirky little snack. The fish are all freshly caught, making grilled fish a healthy, cheap and convenient snack for anyone to try.
8. Pinchitos Morunos
These simple yet spicy kabobs will leave you wanting more every time! They can be made from lamb, pork or (in uncommon cases) chicken, and are flavoured with a range of different spices, including red chilli, coriander, cumin and ginger to name a few! A tasty treat for when you are out and about, or for when you are down to your last few Euros and need something to spend it on.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with Marbella’s longest running real estate agent Panorama.es.