Are you enamoured with Spanish cuisine? You’re in luck. You’ve stumbled onto our series about traditional Spanish food.
This time, we’re shining a light on a subject that’s near and dear to our hearts: Catalan food. This cuisine best embodies our favourite style of regional Spanish cuisine, and it’s one we take ample inspiration from for our own menu at Moda Restaurant.
Let’s get started.
Historically influenced by Greek, Roman and Arabic cultures, Catalan cuisine is a mirror of its landscape: diverse, rich and daring. Catalonia’s gastronomic traditions feature a generous selection of Mediterranean ingredients, often in rich and imaginative combinations. For example, mar i muntanya (‘sea and mountain’) style dishes, which incorporate meat and seafood on the same plate, are popular.
If you’re a fan of fresh fish, such as sardines, anchovies and tuna, and Mediterranean vegetables like tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, capsicum, artichokes, and mushrooms, Catalan cuisine is for you. Catalonians also love to feature bread and pasta in their meals, alongside beans and chickpeas.
#1 Pà Amb Tomàquet
‘Pà amb tomàquet’ is a true staple of Catalan cuisine and identity. It consists of bread slices, toasted or fresh, rubbed with mature tomatoes, a dash of olive oil and salt. Ideally, the bread used to prepare this dish should be ‘pa de pagès bread’: a rustic, artisan style of bread made with a crispy crust, tender crumb and large holes. Tomatoes, called ‘tomate de penjar’, are preferred for the preparation of pà amb tomàquet.
Pà amb tomàquet can be eaten on its own as a snack or as an exquisite side dish to a plate of marinated fish, cold meats or roasted vegetables.
#2 Calçots and Romesco Sauce
Have you tasted the deliciousness of charred calçots dipped in romesco sauce? Calçots are a type of long, tender spring onion, grown throughout the winter in Catalonia. Each year in spring, Catalans celebrate a traditional ritual called a ‘calçotada’, cooking the calçots on the fire until the outer layer is charred, with the inner layer left tender. Friends, neighbours and family gather to eat the cooked calcots with a large dolloping of romesco sauce, which is made from hazelnuts or almonds, roasted red peppers, garlic, tomatoes, pepper, and olive oil).
Escalivada (from the Catalan verb ‘escalivar’, which means ‘to cook in ashes’) is a delicious Catalan side dish that showcases quintessential Mediterranean flavours. In this delightful dish, warm grilled eggplant, capsicum, onions and tomatoes are skinned and deseeded, roasted in the oven, peeled and cut into fine strips, and dressed with olive oil and salt. Escalivada is typically served with toasted rustic bread and fresh anchovies or tuna.
Escudella is a hearty Catalan stew made with multiple kinds of meat (chicken, thick cansalada, chorizo, and black sausage), and vegetables and legumes (potatoes, cabbage, chickpeas). Escudella may be served as a soup with pasta, or as a broth first, followed by the rest.
Embotit describes a range of cured pork, including fuet (a dry sausage), secallona (a dry sausage with a pepper taste), botifarra (raw pork and spices), chorizo, jamón, salchichón or llonganissa (salami).
#6 Esqueixada de Bacallà
Esqueixada de bacallà is a light, refreshing salad, traditionally eaten in summer in Barcelona. The dish is made with shredded ‘bacalao’ (raw salted cod, preserved with salt and dried outdoors), chopped tomatoes, onions, roasted capsicums, curly endive, and black olives. It may be topped with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt dressing, and topped with romesco sauce.
Fideuas is a kind of seafood paella, served with thin pasta noodles called ‘fideu’ instead of rice. Typically, fideuas include ingredients such as squid, prawns, clams and a fragrant, tomato-based sauce called ‘sofregit’.
#8 Suquet de Peix
Located on the Mediterranean, Catalonia enjoys an abundant supply of fresh fish and seafood. The suquet de peix is a Catalan fish stew that typically includes a mix of fish (hake or monkfish), clams, prawns, crayfish, and mussels, flavoured with potatoes, garlic, tomato, and delicate saffron to give the stew a rich flavour.
#9 Butifarra amb Mongetes
Botifarra amb mongetes is a hearty Catalan dish that holds a special place in many Catalan’s hearts. This simple dish consists of botifarra (a Catalan style of pork sausage) and mongetes (white beans), sautéed with the oil from the sausage.
In Catalonia, there are many different types of botifarra. The cured versions include black botifarra (made with boiled pork’s blood), botifarra d’arròs (made with rice), and bull (made with fattier parts of the animal).
Fricandó is a mouth-watering Catalan stew made of veal fillets that are gently cooked with mushrooms and vegetables, and topped with chopped garlic, almonds and parsley. Traditionally, the mushrooms are native to Catalonia, such as moixernons, cama-secs, ceps, gírgoles or rovellons.
#11 Crema Catalana
This divine dessert is one of the most famous Catalan dishes. Crema Catalana consists of a thick custard, made with egg yolk, milk, sugar, lemon peel and cinnamon, with a golden crust of burnt sugar on top. Crema Catalana has a denseness in between a crème pâtissière and a flan.
#12 Mató i Mató
A fresh Catalan cheese made with cows’ or goats’ milk with no salt added. As a dessert, it is usually served with honey. As Peres de Lleida, mató i mató is a dessert that consists of peeled pears, cooked in a light crema catalana, covered by meringue and decorated with cherries, and served cold.
Ready to try some sensational Spanish food? Book a table at Moda Restaurant today!