Delights of the Mediterranean Kitchen: What You Shouldn’t Miss In Spain and Portugal
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A Spanish holiday is never complete unless you have savoured the local gastronomic extravaganza. Food in the country reflects its character steeped in vibrant flavours. The tasty Tapas, sea food and local recipes blend in to give the unique taste.
Don’t go away from Spain without tasting these top ten dishes:
Gazpacho in Andalusia
Andalucia of southern Spain brews this out in every home and all restaurants during the hot summer months. Gazpacho is a combination of red ripe tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, pepper, cucumber and bread all blended smoothly and chilled to be enjoyed in glass or bowl. A thicker version of it is served in Córdoba called the Salmorejo served with a slice of Ibérico ham on top.
The famous and traditional rice dish includes rabbit or chicken, all types of local beans and saffron. It is the local rice that gives the dish its distinctive taste. The Bomba or the Calasaparra varieties give the best results as they are good in absorbing flavours.
An ever-present Tapas variant, the dish is omnipresent in the country and with varying tastes. The main ingredients are chunks of potatoes with the sauce being made from the sweet and spicy Spanish paprika, olive oil and stock. Some add garlic and sherry but never tomatoes.
Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelette)
The Spanish omelette is a delicious mix of potatoes, onion and of course eggs. The slow-fried potatoes and onions in olive oil are mixed in the beaten eggs. Often ham, spinach and chorizo, courgettes are added to make a simple yet delicious lunch.
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Gambas al ajillo (Garlic Prawns)
Served in earthenware dishes, the Garlic Prawns are a must eat during your holidays in Spain. Fresh cleaned prawns are fried for a couple of minutes in finely sliced garlic and sliced green chillies in olive oil with parsley added to it in the end. Just savour the taste!
Tostas de tomate y jamón (Tomato And Ham Toast)
Ham is a delicacy in Spain and the Ibérico variant has a distinct nutty flavour. Thick pieces of bread toast are spread with tomatoes, garlic and olive oil topped with slices of the special ham. It is a quick and delicious lunch.
Pollo al ajillo (Garlic Chicken)
Unpeeled garlic cloves fried in olive oil are added to the chicken when it is being cooked with thyme, rosemary and white wine or sherry. The recipe varies from home to home, restaurant to restaurant.
Tender suckling pigs or lambs are cooked in large ovens burning with wood-fire. The soft meat is cut with the sides of the earthenware plates on which it is served.
It is the Spanish version of ratatouille and a rich dish of slowly fried onion, garlic, tomatoes, courgettes and pepper in olive oil. Savoured as a starter, it is relishing with fried eggs or enjoyed as a side plate.
Almond nougat or Turrón though a Christmas specialty, is available all through the year. Locally grown almonds of Alicante and mixed with egg white and honey to bring about the rich taste. The smoother version is known as Jijona and the harder one as Alicante Turrón.
Cuisine in Portugal is close to the heels of Spain when it comes to using fresh and exotic ingredients to lend the unique taste. There is a range of culinary delights of the land that are made from the ingredients coming from the northern mountains and the undulating southern plains.
Here are the 10 Must-eat Portuguese Cuisine
Cozido a Portuguesa
The king of Portuguese stew, it contains a combination of chicken, beef, pork and its derivatives like sausages and smoked parts with vegetables thrown in for a rich heavy taste.
A traditional and widely popular soup of potatoes, onion, kale, garlic and olive oil all cooked in a clay pot it is served with a slice of pork sausage.
Alheira de Mirandela
A Foul sausage, it is among the cheapest and most commonly eaten dish and has a deep historic-religious story behind its origin.
Bolinhos De Bacalhau
Cod fish is among the most savoured dish in Portugal and this is a special dish also known as the Pasteis de Bacalhau. The fritters are savoured both as starters and as snacks with rice and salad as main dishes.
Arroz de Tambroil
Tambroil or monkfish is cooked in garlic, tomatoes stew and placed in rice much like risotto and eaten all through the country.
Caldeirada de Enguias
An eel stew that is seasoned with saffron and bell pepper, combined with white wine, the dish is a must try when you are on the beaches.
A seafood stew made in copper double pan is served with rice and chips. The rice fish stew is also known as Porto Brandão.
The dish comprises of two bread slices with ham, steak, chorizo and steak in between. Fried egg may be added to it in some place. The combination is topped with a spicy sauce whose recipe is a closely guarded secret. It is sure a gastronomic delight for food connoisseurs.
Arroz de Pato
It is a delicious duck dish for those that don’t savour pork or fish. The duck rice is cooked tender and simmered in quality red wine and baked till the top meat layer becomes crispy. The dish is topped with slices of smoked sausage.
Pastel de Nata
Sweet custard with small pastries with a carmalized topping are widely found in the coffee shops and you must try them. The light and flaky pastries are the result of secret recipes.