Posted on November 4, 2019 | By Alexa Randell
16th Apr 2019
The majority of us know that Spain is famous for its glorious weather, laid-back lifestyle and tapas, but what are the top dishes and drinks to try in Spain? This blog is going to give you a list of some of the most delicious must-tries in Spain including a few drinks!
#1 Jamón Ibérico – (Iberian ham)
Jamón ibérico is a type of cured ham produced in Spain and is often classed as the finest ham in the world. Jamon iberico is produced from iberico pigs which are black with very little hair. They also have black hooves which are described by the phrase ‘pata negra’, which clearly distinguishes them from jamon serrano (serrano ham). These pigs are acorn or chestnut fed, which is a key ingredient during the curing of the ham. The price of the ham depends on how long the pigs have eaten acorns for and can range from £10 for a small portion right up to a top-quality complete leg costing £1,800.
A classic Spanish dish from Andalusia, gazpacho is a cold soup made from raw vegetables. Key ingredients include tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, olive oil, wine, water, salt and stale bread. Gazpacho becomes very popular during the Spanish hot summers as it is cold and refreshing. You may find variants of this recipe such as ajoblanco and salmorejo.
#3 Espinacas con Garbanzos (Spinach and Chickpeas)
Another typical Andalusian tapa is Espinacas con Garbanzos. It’s also popular during the winter months as it’s a comforting piping hot dish likened to stew. In addition, it’s a simple dish to make at home, so you can continue to eat this delicious tapa wherever you are.
Probably the most well-known Spanish dish around the world, paella is a Valencian rice dish. There are many different types of paella including seafood paella (paella de mariscos), vegetable paella (paella de verduras) and mixed paella (paella mixta). However, the original is considered to be the Valencian paella which consists of white rice, green beans and meat, which could be chicken, rabbit or even duck.
5# Berenjenas con Miel (Fried Aubergines with Cane Honey)
Also an Andaluz dish from around Malaga and Granada, berenjenas con miel is a popular vegetarian dish on offer in most restaurants. To make this, aubergines are sliced thinly, coated in seasoned flour and fried until golden. And the best bit is the sugar cane honey drizzled on top – simple but delicious!
#6 Pescado Frito (Fried Fish) / Pescadito Frito (in Andalusian dialect – little fried fish)
Traditionally from the Southern coast of Spain, pescado frito is typically found in Andalusia, in particular it’s a delicacy of the inland provinces of Seville and Cordoba. Pescado frito is usually made with white fish, which is coated in flour and deep fried in olive oil and seasoned with a bit of sprinkled salt. It is then served hot, freshly fried and with fresh lemon squeezed over the top.
#7 Ensaladilla Rusa (Russian Salad)
As the name states this salad has its roots in Russia but it is one of the most common dishes found in Spain, especially around Seville and Cadiz. Typically, the salad includes potatoes, peas and carrots, and it’s normal to include tuna as well. Shrimp or egg is also often added in the South. Served cold it makes for a popular dish during the summer months.
The province of Cordoba can be proud to have created the flemenquin dish. Its name literally translates to ‘little Flemish’, which has derived from the colour of the batter resembling the blond hair of the Flemish assistants accompanying the emperor Charles V when he came to Spain. Within the deep-fried golden breadcrumbs, you can find slices of jamon serrano wrapped in pieces of pork loin.
#9 Churros con Chocolate – (Fried Dough Pastry with Chocolate)
You won’t walk around Spain during breakfast time without seeing churros with chocolate. A popular breakfast dish amongst the locals, a churro is a deep-fried dough pastry, sprinkled with sugar and dipped in hot chocolate, coffee or sweetened milk. Not exactly the healthiest of breakfasts but a good way to kick start your day!
#10 Vino de Jerez (Sherry)
Near the city of Jerez de la Frontera white grapes are grown to make the fortified wine of sherry. Sherry comes in a few variants ranging from the colour white, such as Fino and Manzanilla, to oxidised dark versions aged in a barrel, such as Oloroso and Amontillado. Pre-claimed as an ‘underappreciated wine’, try not to miss out on trying sherry if you ever find yourself in this region of Spain.
#1 Clams a la Marinera (Stew of Clams)
A part of Galician gastronomy, clams a la marinera are cooked in a kind of onion sauce called sofrito which is made from onions, tomatoes, chives, garlic, salt and white wine. The dish is then flavoured with paprika and served hot – a great dish for fish lovers!
#2 Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician Octopus)
A traditional Galician dish also known as pulpo estilo feira (fair-style octopus), pulpo a la gallega only has four ingredients; octopus, olive oil, paprika and salt. It is particularly popular in the city of Lugo during the patron saint festivities where it is served as the main dish.
#3 Bacalao al Pil-Pil (Salt Cod)
A popular dish throughout Spain with Spaniards and tourists alike, bacalao al pil-pil is a traditional dish from the Basque country where cod has been brought back from the Atlantic Ocean for many years. The salted cod is emulsified with the simple ingredients of the Pil Pil sauce of garlic, chilli and olive oil resulting in a simple but tasty dish.
#4 Pimientos de Padrones (Green Peppers)
These small green peppers come from Galicia and are usually mild in flavour. However, be careful – once in a while you may bite into an extraordinarily spicy one! This makes eating them a bit more fun, a bit like playing a game of Russian Roulette with green peppers… Fried with olive oil and topped with salt, this makes pimientos de padrones one of the easiest tapas dishes to make.
#5 Cordero Asado (Roast Lamb)
In the central part of Spain, the plateau has a sheep herding culture that dates back to the Middle Ages and therefore roasted lamb is one of the culinary specialities of the region. The dish is comprised of covering the lamb with salt, which is then roasted in a wood burning oven, finished with a sprinkle of herbs and accompanied with roasted potatoes.
#6 Croquetas de Jamon (Ham Croquettes)
Traditionally croquettes were made as a way to use up leftover scraps in the household and therefore, became known as the poor man’s food. Maybe this is why they have become one of the most popular staple dishes in Spain that can be found in practically every bar or restaurant. Croquettes are made by using bechamel sauce, which is made up of olive oil, butter, flour and milk then flavoured with leftover serrano ham and deep fried to a crispy perfection. You’ll be hard pushed to find someone who doesn’t find them tasty.
#7 Fabada Asturiana
Known as the pride of Asturias, the fabada stew is a hearty dish that uses chorizo and morcilla sausages to add a tasty flavour to the fabada beans, which seem to have a natural ability to soak up the flavours of all other ingredients. This dish is popular during the cold weather in Spain.
#8 Sidra de Austrias (Asturian Cider)
Made from locally grown apples in Asturias, cider is the traditional drink from this region. You will find this cider in establishments called Sidrerias, where the bartenders tend to serve the drink in a dramatic fashion. The way to pour this cider is to hold a large glass low in one hand and to raise the bottle above your head in the other hand and pour from a height, allowing foam to be produced from the carbonation. In Spanish, this method of pouring is called escanciar and is necessary to create the best flavour. It also must be drunk immediately so it doesn’t settle!
#9 Meluza a la Vasca
Merluza a la vasca is an iconic simple Basque dish, it is hake in a green sauce with lots of parsley, clams, asparagus and peas making it a very healthy dish as well as delicious!
#10 Rioja (Wine)
The Rioja region is known all over the world for its fine red wines – it’s one of the oldest D.O’s (Denominación de Origen, equivalent to the French AOC system) in Europe. Rioja wine is made of a variety of grapes, namely Spanish grapes like tempranillo and garnacha, but also universal varieties like cavernet-savignon and merlot. These are usually mixed but sometimes only one type of grape is used. Depending on the aging it can be “del año” (wine of the year), crianza (aged for one year in oak casks), reserva (aged for 3 years) or gran reserva (wine made from grapes of exceptionally good crops, it’s aged for 5 years, 3 in casks and 2 in the bottle before it’s commercialized). Whichever rioja you go through, you can guarantee it will be delicious in all aspects.
If you enjoyed hearing about Spanish food, you may also like our Spain guide: Everything you need to know about teaching English in Spain.