& COOKING ARTICLE
seafood . . . the Spanish have had a love of seafood
dating back centuries. The Romans were first to salt
and cure seafood and this influence can still be seen
today through bacalao salt cod and mojama. Of course
times have drastically changed but the process for curing
these fish remains basically the same.
we have to remember is that Spain is surrounded by water,
three coasts so of course seafood had been, for a long
time part of the staple diet. Go up north to Galicia
and you will discover some of the most famous and delicious
seafood recipes from all of Spain. Go south and the
diet is slightly different, although just as delicious
Andalucia has the wealth of the Mediterranean so dishes
vary and tend to have a more Moorish influence to them.
by any good tapas bar (particularly on a Sunday) in
rural Andalucia and you will be stunned by the tapas
on offer, locals buying beers and glasses of wine accompanied
by a sound that can only be made by a large spoonful
of clams in their shells drenched in salsa being served
on a plate, free of charge or course. Weekdays are usually
a more modest affair in small rural bars where you may
be lucky enough to get a bowl of salted almonds or a
few freshly cut slivers or serrano ham, if you really
want to experience tapas make sure it's a Sunday, that's
when the hot tapas make their appearance. A small serving
of seafood paella is an absolute delight and taste even
better because its free.
range of seafood available from any local Spanish fishmonger
or indoor market on Tuesdays and Fridays will not disappoint.
It pays to buy early both to get the finest fresh produce
with the best selection and also to avoid the crowds,
fishmongers get very busy especially in markets so it
can be quite a wrestle to get served. One fish to look
out for is "rape" or monkfish, the tails from
these fish can be bought frozen although the fresh examples
are the very best, if you are lucky enough to see a
monkfish head on sale then be prepared for a seafood
paella stock made for a king - true flavour
in every sense of the word.
small delight you simply cannot go wrong with is the
humble "gamba" or prawn. One of the more
popular tapas recipes is Spain is "gambas al
pil pil" or chilli garlic prawns, readily served
up in bars these tapas are usually reserved for a
table of two or more people where the prawns are served
up in a terracotta cazuela brimming with garlic and
chilli infused olive oil, bread is always handy for
classic which can be cooked very easily at home too
is "pulpo" or octopus, almost a symbol of
the Mediterranean the octopus is very popular in northern
parts of Spain where it is always served in garlic.
Octopus makes great tapas as it can be at home just
as well in a salad or served hot in a tomato salsa.
quite an expensive little crustacean but you know
where those extra cents have gone when you cook them
on the barbeque with a little lemon juice. Like mini
lobsters the langostine has a unique and delicious
~ Squid / Cuttlefish
of the more popular seafood dishes in Spain is "Calamar"
or squid. Normally squid is cut into rings ready for
the paella or to be battered and fried in olive oil
but whole squid can be stuffed to make a meal or starter.
Squid stuffed with rice mixed with serrano ham, peas
and chorizo is a simple dish and packed with flavour.
Another, somewhat underrated relation to the squid
is "sepia" or cuttlefish. The cuttlefish
is very similar to squid but the flesh is thicker,
ideal for the barbeque, again in garlic or simply
fried. Cuttlefish also marinades quite well so is
an ideal dish to experiment with.
far one of the firm favourites is the humble "mejillon"
or mussel. Is there anything this little shellfish
cannot be enjoyed? Mussels can be cooked in salsa,
steamed in white wine and garlic, Asturian cider
list goes on. Mussels are seasonal in Spain as they
are usually bought fresh; there is a verse which says:
abril para mi
En mayo para mi hermano
En junio para ninguno
loosely translates as:
April for me
In May for my brother
In June for no-one
or cockles are another shellfish which are very popular,
again usually served as classy tapas in a tomato salsa
with a hint of paprika along side bread for mopping
up that delicious sauce. Cockles are also a main ingredient
in seafood paella, thrown in to steam at the last
minute these shellfish add that authentic taste of
the sea along their larger cousins the mussel or clam.
are so many varieties of clam that it is hard to detail
them all individually. "Navajas" or razor
clams are a long shaped clam which when their burrow
is doused with salt they shoot up to the surface of
a wet sandy beach. In Spain razor clams are usually
steamed or barbequed with lemon juice and herbs. Rose
clams (and similar readily available varieties) are
a large to medium clam which can be enjoyed in seafood
paella's as well as on their own sautéed with
wine and garlic.
~ Crab (type)
is very large crab which, when purchased is Spain
usually come alive. These crabs make fantastic dishes
such as crab cakes, croquettes and the odd high class
soufflé. We think the best way to enjoy this
crab is simply on its own as the flavour is exceptional.
~ Goose Barnacles
barnacles are commonly found on the Southern coast
of Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Attached to rocks
and even the hulls of ships the barnacles are gathered
then cooked quickly by either steaming, boiling or
grilling. They do not need much as when overcooked
they become quite tough however when done just right
the flesh inside is a gastronomic delight.
the same way all over the world and Spain is no exception.
Drizzle some lemon juice over the oyster and slip
it into your mouth for one of nature's finest pleasures.
Hot salsa, tobasco or chilli sauce also works exceptionally
is not a hugely used ingredient in Spain, probably
one of the reasons being that if you want to eat tuna
then get "the best". Prolific tinned and
jarred tuned come from "Ortiz" whom need
no introduction, preserving their highest standard
fish in fine olive oils. However travel to Madrid
and you may meat "Mojama" slivers of cured
prime tuna loin almost always served with a short
connoisseur's choice in the world of cod. Make no
mistake these cured fish deliver full Medittereanen
flavour. Bacalao fritters are the most popular recipe
but this highly versatile fish when soaked will add
a superb flavour to your Spanish recipes. Something
every budding Spanish kitchen should not be without.
is Spain. Visit any fishmonger and you will see trays
of fresh sardines as well as circular wooden display
containers holding dozens of these little fish. Sardines
in Andalucia are extremely popular as a midday lunch
cooked over the grill, indoor fire or barbeque during
the summer months as well as the winter. The sardine
served on its own is quite an appetizer but it can
also be boned and marinated. Lemon juice is a firm
favourite with herbs; the marinated fish served raw
makes delicious tapas.
what is available in a jar, those salty brown fillets
which serve their purpose for many recipes but ultimately
you love or hate them. Fresh anchovies are tapas from
heaven! Freshly bought anchovies can be filleted very
easily (or ask your fishmonger do this for you) then
marinade the fillets in lemon juice of vinegar with
herbs. The fillets turn white which means they are
ready and perfect for summer salads or simple seafood
tapas on their own.
is a fish well worth spending your money on if you
have the opportunity. Perhaps nearer the top end of
the price band per kilo but not extravagant. Dogfish
has a texture quite different to other fish such as
cod or bream. A meaty yet melt in the mouth texture
which does need to be carefully cooked, requires little
in the way of extra flavours as this fish, when cooked
correctly challenges the best of the best.
~ Gilthead Bream
popular fish sold in the indoor markets and village
fishmongers, partly due to its ease of cooking and
preparation but mainly the flavour of the fish. Gilthead
requires no gutting if cooking on the barbeque or
simply baking in the oven. Drizzle the whole fish
with a little olive oil, add lemon slices, salt and
pepper then bake. Skin from Gilthead bream is very
thick and is easily removed exposing a delicious meaty
flesh underneath. Season lightly for a fish that needs
fishmonger is likely to have trays of mackerel, although
nowadays in Spain the Atlantic mackerel is more available
than the Atlantic Spanish variety which in appearance
is slightly different. Mackerel is an economical fish
so very popular, recipes include simple marinated
mackerel fillets to full mackerel "asado"
which is often served up in a large baking tray ready
for the whole family to dig in.
is a real delicacy so not that common in recipes although
you can find meaty chunks of monkfish in seafood paella's,
fish chowders etc. One popular way to serve monkfish
is on a kebab alternated with king prawns, wrapping
monkfish tail in slices of serrano or iberico ham
is also popular although on the expensive side!
or rather the wings from the skate are commonly used
in soups throughout Spain. Skate wings are also popular
served with salsas, caper berries and peppers. The
wings themselves are full of cartilage not bones so
removing the meat from the cooked fish is much easier.
A nice flavoured inexpensive fish.
is not the most attractive looking fish but has a
delicious flavour. Quite a large fish so purchasing
usually comes in the form of steaks. The Spanish have
enjoyed hake for centuries and as a result there are
many recipes for the fish ranging from simple pan
frying with a few herbs to complex Basque style fish
stews and chowders.
de Mar ~ Sea Urchin
Catalonia is where you find sea urchins which are
enjoyed as fresh as they come. You can see people
snorkelling for urchins and when caught are even enjoyed
on the rocks by the sea, very fresh indeed. Urchins
are normally halved then the roe is scooped out with
a spoon. As you would expect they have a strong taste
of the sea and are usually served with olive oil drenched
bread and a cold morning beer. (Erizo de Mar literally
means "sea hedgehog")
is usually purchased already filleted but you can
get the full fish. Is another popular fish, especially
in Andalucia and is used in a variety of Spanish recipes,
the most popular being "la mallorquina"
which basically means that the fish will be served
with a selection of vegetables on top usually with
a tasty fish stock or salsa. Keep the bread handy
for this one if you order it in a Spanish restaurant.
~ Tuna (type)
most common way of enjoying melva fillets is straight
from the tin. Melva is a type of tuna and although
not all that common fresh (certainly in rural Spain)
fillets from the tin are usually preserved in extra
virgin olive oil. The fish makes ideal tapas served
on toast or with salad,
known as "Pez Espada". Swordfish is one
of the treasures from the sea, a fabulous meaty fish
with a unique flavour served all over the Mediterranean.
Swordfish steaks can be cooked on the barbeque, marinated,
used on kebabs, in paella, seafood stews and chowders.
A good all round fish with an exceptional flavour
that can hold its own served with salsas or peppered.
Also a popular tapa in seafood restaurants and bars.
of snails are a common sight in most Spanish pescaderias,
a fascination for the children who more often than
not come away with at least one in a bag! Snails are
simply cooked, the key is to clean them as best you
can before placing them into a pan with olive oil,
turn up the heat and infuse the oil with crushed garlic.
Healthy Seafood Diet:
Mediterranean diet is widely regarded as one the healthiest
diets in the world. One of the reasons for this is
due to the amount of seafood that is consumed. One
thing to remember is that all fish and shellfish contain
Omega 3, some more than others. Oily fish such as
mackerel and tuna contain higher amounts of Omega
3 fatty acids which contribute to a healthy diet.
Accompany this with the vast amounts of olive oil
consumed in Spain and you can see why the Mediterranean
diet is so healthy. Seafood is readily available twice
a week - even in rural areas, immaculately fresh every
Tuesday and Friday. This also plays a role as it means
that less meat is consumed in comparison to other
seafood dishes play an important part in the Spanish
diet and recipes are a plenty with interesting soups,
stews and of course the famous seafood paella. The
Spanish also posses the knowledge on what to do and
how to cook and prepare various types of fish, such
is and has always been the availability and sheer
choice of fresh seafood.
some inspirational Spanish recipe ideas why not pop
into our seafood
recipe page where you will find ideas for
both fish and shellfish, soups to kebabs and some
interesting methods and techniques handed down through
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