In my life, I haven't tried many Spanish dishes, but the few Spanish foods I have tasted have been mouth-watering, especially the Mediterranean recipes.
Spain is internationally famous for its cuisine. And there are quite a few popular dishes that you shouldn’t miss if you travel to Spain or come across an authentic Spanish restaurant in other countries.
So if you love Spanish cuisine and are ready to try new flavors, this list of popular recommendations will help you know what to try.
Today’s post will guide you through delicious Spanish food, their Spanish names, ingredients, and what areas of the country you will be able to eat them.
Learning about food can also provide you with a broad vocabulary in daily life.
Whether you love food or cooking, knowing about national dishes and popular food is necessary, especially if you are a foreigner planning to travel to Spain. Next time you can impress your native friends with how much you know about their cuisine!
English: Chicken or Seafood paella valenciana
If you still don’t know Paella, imagine a big pan where all the rice is cooked with different ingredients from chicken and seafood to veggies and olive oil.
To be sure what you are eating is authentic Paella, you have to focus on the color of the rice and other factors. Since Spaniards use saffron for cooking the rice, it will become yellowish.
Also, if you notice that the rice is slightly opened, pasty and sticky on your palate, you are not eating a proper Paella.
There are diverse Paella recipes in Spain. However, the dish from the Valencia region is perhaps one of the most popular. Many claim it is the first Paella ever created, and it is considered a traditional and authentic recipe.
The variety of flavors you can taste with this popular dish is something you definitely should try. Although, I advise you to be careful where you try it.
There are restaurants in Spain that scam people into thinking they are paying for authentic Paella when this is not the case. So, once in Spain, ask around for recommendations. The locals know exactly where you should go for the best dishes!
English: Gazpacho Soup/Cold Tomato Soup
Gazpacho is a mouthwatering cold soup made of pepper, oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, cucumber, onion, and tomato.
It is typical of Andalusia and extremely popular in the area. Due to its garden-fresh chopped ingredients, the soup is considered a healthy and light dish among Spaniards and foreigners.
Like Gazpacho, Salmorejo, also known as Ardorío or Ardoria, is a traditional Spanish cold tomato purée with origins in Andalusia. One difference with Gazpacho is that in this dish, the tomatoes are puréed and then combined with the rest of the ingredients. This means that the Salmorejo isn't a liquid soup that can be drunk in a glass. On the other hand, a Gazpacho is liquid enough to drink.
English: Bread crumbs
Migas is a traditional Spanish Dish introduced to the country by the shepherds. More than a main dish, it is served as an appetizer or breakfast. In fact, it can also be a tapa.
The recipe has garlic and the most important ingredient: the previous day’s stale bread. And some people also cook it with fish.
If you travel to Portugal, you will notice that it is also a traditional dish.
For a hundred percent authentic Fabada taste, you should visit Asturias. Fabada is a bean stew served hot in a pot. The name of this dish is attributed to the 'bean' legume, known in Spain as 'faba.'
When I tried this dish for the first time, I thought I wouldn't enjoy it enough because I don't enjoy black pudding/blood sausage.
It is also cooked with chorizo, which I do like. But the black pudding… I wasn't sure until I tried it and realized how delicious it was!
English: Padron peppers
These are small green peppers from the municipality of Padrón. A typical dish companion from the Galician area. You can choose whether you want a spicy version or a non-spicy.
Its preparation is simple. Peppers are fried in olive oil, an ingredient that is never lacking in Spanish cuisine.
You have to cut the stems to avoid bitterness, then fry the peppers in a strong fire until their skin begins to burn and blister, and then they will finally collapse.
English: Spanish Fried Anchovies
If you visit the north of Spain you will hear about 'anchoa,' if you are from the south or from the Mediterranean area, they call it 'boquerón.' Be that as it may, you should try it because it is a delight for the palate!
English: Roast suckling pig
Cochinillo Asado is perhaps the one dish that reminds me of the heritage of Spain in Latin America, as we have similar traditional dishes, such as hornado.
'Cochinillo' means pig, and 'asado' means roasted. While traveling around Madrid, Arévalo, Segovia, Aragón, and La Mancha you will be able to spot places that make authentic and well-cooked Cochinillo Asado with delicious wine.
You will love the crispy crust and the taste of white wine and spices added before cooking. Definitely, a popular Spanish food that you shouldn't miss on your must-try list.
English: Fair style octopus
Once you see its presentation, you will not be able to wait to have the first bite. Pulpo a la Gallega, as its name states, it’s an octopus dish traditional to the Galician area.
In the city of Lugo, in the northwest part of the country, there is a religious festival called ‘Fiestas of San Froilán’ that celebrates the Patron saint of the city, ‘San Froilán.’
During this festivity, people often eat this dish. So if you are looking to try Pulpo a la Gallega, you should go in October to enjoy local traditions and great food.
Before introducing the following foods, you should learn about the term 'Tapas,' which does not have a literal translation into English.
A Tapa is a Spanish food appetizer that locals can serve before a meal, during a visit, a party, or you can even enjoy it in bars accompanied by wine, sangria, or beer.
But this is not all. Tapas are special because of the ingredients they contain. They fulfill their purpose of whetting your appetite. From cheeses to small sandwiches or hams unique to Spain, tapas are undoubtedly a favorite dish for foreigners.
Here is a list of the most popular tapas you can find:
Gambas al ajillo - The most famous recipe of traditional Spanish cuisine.
Montaditos – Popular small sandwiches that generally have the ingredients on top of the bread. It doesn't have an English equivalent, but the term's meaning comes from the verb 'montar,' (to mount). It's called this because the ingredients are 'montando' or topping the bread instead of being inside.
Pan con tomate (Bread with Tomato)– Traditional Spanish dish made of tomato sauce, olive oil, and garlic on top of a delicious bread. Perfect way to experience Spanish tapas!
Jamon serrano (serrano ham) – Cured ham and serrano ham are among the most typical and traditional foods in Spanish gastronomy. It is part of the country's history, of its people, and is undoubtedly an essential element in Spanish culture.
It comes from a breed of white pig raised in a mountainous geographic region known as 'sierra' (mountain chain), hence its name.
Something to note is that when the pig is of the Iberian breed, it is called Iberian ham, a quite different type of ham but equally popular in the country.
Spanish chorizo (Spanish sausage) – It is said that the special flavor of Spanish chorizo appeared when paprika was introduced to Spain in the seventeenth century, and they started to season the pork sausage with it. The Spanish chorizo also has ‘pimentón’ (peppers) and ‘ajo’ (garlic).
Patatas bravas (spicy potatoes) – One of the most famous potato dishes that you can try at a tapas bar. It is a spicy dish due to the Cayenne pepper, which is the sauce's main ingredient. The Spaniards usually fry the potatoes, cook them in oil or water, and often bake them.
Tortilla Española/Tortilla De Patatas (Spanish omelette) – This famous Spanish omelette of potatoes and egg is known as Spain's national dish and it is served in Tapas.
Churros con chocolate – Churros with chocolate, the most famous Spanish breakfast!
Turrón/Torrone – A sweet Spanish nougat candy mainly from Alicante
Leche Frita – Fried milk is another traditional Spanish dessert that you can try in Spain. It is not literally 'fried milk,' but rather a sweet milk pudding that, after being fried with eggs and flour, is served with cinnamon. Just thinking of the cold crispy texture and sweet flavor makes me want to try again!
Pestiños – A fried dough pastry fried in olive oil. If you love the taste of sesame, cinnamon, and orange, you will enjoy this combination of flavors in the dough.
Aceite de oliva (Olive oil) – Olive oil is the key of the Spanish cuisine.
Paprika Española – Spanish Paprika, also known as Pimentón de la Vera, it is a condiment made with smoked peppers.
Salsa de Tomate – The tomato sauce in Spain is an essential ingredient in Spanish cuisine, as you have seen in the list of dishes. The secret to a delicious tomato sauce is giving it a taste of 'canela' (cinnamon). In addition, many Spaniard chefs add wine or vinegar to the sauce to give it a unique flavor.
Salsa picante Española – The Spanish spicy sauce is also quite famous. A Spanish spicy sauce brand is a worldwide favorite because of its unique flavors, such as orange, carrot, sweet honey, and more.
You are probably hungry after reading about so many delicious dishes. If you can't wait to be in Spain to try some Spanish food, why not look for the best Spanish restaurant or cafe in town? You can even try practicing your Spanish-speaking skills with the chef or staff while being there!
And another great way to improve your Spanish level is by going through the fun lessons and quizzes that Ling App offers.
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