Spanish cuisine: main dishes by region
Asturias and Cantabria
Despite the fact that Spain is most often associated with the eternal sun, sea and palm trees, in the North of the country rains can go even more often than in St. Petersburg, and in winter there is real snow. Therefore, when winter comes, the inhabitants of the Northern regions choose hot and hearty dishes, such as, for example, fabada. This is the most famous and perhaps the most caloric dish in the Asturias region. It is in this region that large white beans are grown, which is the basis of the dish. The beans are cooked for more than an hour in bone broth along with bits of bacon and several kinds of savory sausages such as chorizo and morsilla. After this dinner, you can climb the mountains, and chop wood, because fabada is traditionally prepared in Spanish villages. A similar soup, but also with the addition of cabbage and ribs, is prepared in neighboring Cantabria. There, too, give preference to high-calorie dishes based on beans and potatoes.
Galicia is known for its seafood. Who has not heard of the famous Galician octopus? The tentacles are served on a pillow of boiled potatoes, generously seasoned with paprika and olive oil. This octopus does not even need to chew – it melts in the mouth. This region also boasts scallops. They are fried with onions, ham, parsley, and finally add a drop of brandy. All this is placed on the bottom of the sink, sprinkled with bread crumbs and sent to the oven.
Castile and Leon
Castile and Leon is considered the most meat region of Spain. Adherents of vegetarianism may even be shocked by the Windows of local restaurants, because the main element of the feast in this region is cochinillo asado, or a young pig. It is served on the table whole with the head. First, the pig is coated with spices and pork fat, and then baked in the oven with potatoes and vegetables.
La Rioja – the same region where produce jamon of the highest quality and grow rare grapes. Special climatological conditions allow each year to collect rich harvests for the preparation of wine and cava. And La Rioja is famous for fragrant vegetable stew, which is based on beans, asparagus, local sausages and, of course, ham.
Castile-La Mancha is also about vegetables, plus more about cheese. The Manchego variety is a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk. And this breed of sheep can be found exclusively in this region, which is why the cheese has such a unique taste. Well, the hot one is Pisto Manchego, a vegetable stew that looks like French Ratatouille.
It is worth noting that pea crops in General play a major role in Spanish cuisine. For example, chickpeas can be found in the grocery basket of almost every Spaniard. And in Madrid it is also the basis of the most famous soup – cocido madrileno. It is prepared on the basis of a thick broth of chickpeas with carrots. When serving, meat and vegetable ingredients are added. As a rule, it turns out a great hearty dish that the people of Madrid love to cook in the winter.
Moving South on the Peninsula, we find ourselves in Valencia, where the most important Spanish celebrity – paella was born. In fact, not every dish of rice can be called paella, and the Spaniards on this account are willing to explain to ignorant foreigners all the differences. Paella is a kind of round pan in which rice with a small amount of water is cooked in a special way. In the end, the dish should be juicy (but without the broth) and with a slightly burnt rice at the base. Traditional Valencian paella is prepared using rabbit, chicken, artichokes, beans and snails.
Andalusia gave us cold gazpacho soup. When most of the year you have to survive in 40 degree heat, you get these simple and at the same time nourishing cold soups. Gazpacho is prepared on the basis of tomato, red pepper, cucumber, bread crumb, garlic and olive oil. Usually the soup has the consistency of thick tomato juice. Another option for a cold lunch is salmorejo soup. In fact, it is the same gazpacho, but more satisfying. It is served with half an egg and slices of ham.
If we see such a gastronomic variety on mainland Spain, having traveled only 200 km to the South or North, the island part is almost another planet. In the Balearic Islands in the cuisine is dominated by seafood. There you can try the lobster stew, which is prepared from two types of lobsters, tomato, bread, onions and spices. Another interesting dish of the region – hot Stingray meat. Rare fish is served with slices of potatoes and zucchini with a sauce of roasted almonds.
The Canary Islands are home to a hot sauce that is used throughout Spain. Mojo Picon is made from a mixture of peppers, garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar and salt. On the Islands it is most often used as a dressing for potatoes, which are boiled in the peel in salt water. This dish is called shriveled potatoes.