Are you enchanted with traditional Spanish food? In our opinion, there’s so much to love about regional Spanish cuisine. In this article, we explore some of the best food Spain has to offer with a tour of the fascinating culinary traditions of Galicia. Here are 10 amazing Galicia food examples that are sure to get your tastebuds excited.
Galician Food & Flavours
Galician food is some of Spain’s tastiest. The exquisite delicacies of this region originate in its unique location, bordered by Portugal to the south, Castile and León and Asturias to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Cantabrian Sea to the north. Galicia is home to hilly landscapes ideal for animal husbandry and farming, and tall mountain ranges in the east and south, while the ocean offers up a bounty of delicious seafood.
Galician Food #1 – Pulpo a Feira (Market-Style Octopus)
Pulpo á feira (or polbo á feira in Galician) is hands down one of the most simple yet delicious ways to enjoy octopus. Served in markets and tapas bars all over Galicia, this authentic Galician dish’s main ingredient is fresh octopus, boiled until tender in a copper pot. According to local tradition, there are a few secrets to making it extra tender and tasty. One of them, called ‘frighten/scare the octopus’, includes dipping the octopus into boiling water three times to curl the tips of the tentacles. Once cooked, the octopus tentacles are sliced into medallions and drizzled with olive oil, salt and smoked paprika (also known as pimentón in Spanish). To get the full traditional experience, serve this dish on a wooden plate, laden with potatoes or bread to soak up the oil.
Galician Food #2 – Empanada Gallega (Galician-Style Empanada)
The Empanada Gallega is a mighty savoury pastry or pie that comes in a variety of shapes and fillings, often with paprika-dusted dough. The Galician empanada is larger than most other styles of empanada — so much so that the locals refer to those ‘inferior’ empanadas as ‘empanadillas’!
Legend has it that the empanada Gallega is distantly related to the Indian samosa, brought back from the Portuguese colony of Goa by Portuguese traders. Popular fillings include onion, pepper and garlic, mixed with:
- Salted cod (bacalao) and raisins
- Mackerel (caballa)
- Tuna (bonito), also known as ‘empanada de atún’ or tuna pie
- Cuttlefish (chocos)
- Small scallops (zamburiñas)
- Mussels (mejillones)
Galician Food #3 – Pimientos de Padrón (Padron Peppers)
Pimientos de Padrón are little green peppers from Herbón in the Galician province of Padrón. Fried over high heat until the skin blisters and slightly blackens, then sprinkled with rock salt, these peppers are a local favourite because they’re so fun to share with friends with a beer in summer. Eating a plateful of these small peppers is like a culinary Russian Roulette — you will not know whether you have bitten into a super sweet pepper or super-spicy chilli until you bite into them.
Galician Food #4 – Cocido Gallego (Galician Stew)
An absolute favourite in winter, this humble Galician stew is overflowing with delicious flavours. Everything from pork shoulder and pig’s ears to chorizo and chickpeas, Galician potatoes, cabbage and turnip tops may feature in this hearty broth. All ingredients are boiled together and served with a dash of smoked paprika and olive oil.
Galician Food #5 – Chuletón de Ternera (T-Bone Steak)
Galician beef is renowned throughout Spain and the world for its incredible taste and texture. The cows that produce this beef are known locally as ‘rubia gallega’ or Galician blond. Order this delicious beef ‘a la plancha’ or grilled, with rock salt.
Galician Food #6 – Merluza a la Gallega
Hake (called merluza in Spanish), a lean, white fish with low fat content, is found in gourmet restaurants and home-cooked meals throughout Galicia. Its most traditional form is merluza a la gallega – hake cooked with potatoes, onion and bay leaves, and served in a garlic-paprika sauce.
Galician Food #7 – Caldo Gallego (Galician Broth)
The perfect soul-warming comfort food on a cold, rainy day, caldo Gallego is a traditional clear soup, made with pork, Galician potatoes, fat white beans, chorizo and turnip tops, and served in a cunca (ceramic bowl). The ingredients are all boiled together with ‘unto’, a type of lard made of rolled, salted and cured pork belly, until the flavours meld together.
Galician Food #8 – Vieiras (Scallops)
Scallops are popular throughout Galicia. They in two forms: served simply steamed in a half-shell with a squeeze of lemon juice, or as ‘vieiras gratinadas’, with crispy breadcrumbs, white wine (Ribeiro, Albariño or Godello), lemon zest, chopped fresh parsley, and optional Serrano ham. Both kinds of scallops are very traditional and beloved by locals.
Galician Food #9 – Mariscada Gallega
Galicia is often considered the seafood and shellfish capital of Spain. Clams, scallops, mussels, cockles, lobsters, prawns, king crab, crab, goose barnacles, tuna, hake, monkfish and sardines all make an appearance in the mariscada Gallega, an epic seafood platter from this region. If you’re a fan of seafood, this is the perfect Galician dish to get your seafood fix.
Galician Food #10 – Tarta de Santiago
Tarta de Santiago is the most famous Galician dessert. This dense, moist traditional cake is made with ground almonds, eggs, sugar and often a splash of brandy. Served for dessert with coffee, the cake is decorated with powdered sugar in the shape of the famous cross of St James, the patron saint of Santiago de Compostela. Sweet but not overwhelming, enjoy this cake if you crave a lovely almond aroma and taste.
Keen to try some mouth-watering and authentic Spanish food right here in Brisbane? Book a table at Moda Restaurant today!