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Mar 06 2017

The 10 Most Characteristic Dishes in Spanish Cuisine

What are the 10 most emblematic dishes in Spanish cuisine? At Foods & Wines from Spain we have asked ourselves this question time and time again, not only with the hopes of creating our own ‘top ten’ list, but also to determine which of the most venerated Spanish dishes remain virtually unknown on an international scale, so that we can give them a little more visibility on our site


During the most recent edition of international culinary conference Madrid Fusión, its organizers took up this very challenge, conducting a survey among attendees of the ten most representative Spanish dishes. All of the following made it onto the list, but of course there are many others. In any case, any selection has its limitations, but the dishes listed below are undoubtedly a good place to start:

1) Tortilla de patatas - Spanish omelet

There isn't an international traveler to Spain that hasn't yearned to try this simple, inexpensive and 100% Spanish potato omelet. The debate over whether or not it should contain well-poached onions will never end, but there is consensus about the fact that it should be prepared using quality eggs and olive oil. Juicier, drier, more or less done... Would you like to know our favorite version?

2) Paella - Valencian-style paella

Paella comes in at number two in the ranking, but that doesn't mean that it's not one of the most respected dishes in Spanish cuisine. Valencian-style paella is made just as described in this recipe, using chicken, rabbit, broad beans, saffron, quality rice, broth and a sofrito base. Rice prepared any other way is another dish (albeit a flavorful one), such as ‘rice with meat’, ‘rice with vegetables’ or ‘rice with seafood’. Just a reminder: the recipient where this recipe is cooked is called a “paella”.

3) Gazpacho - Gazpacho cold soup

The Spanish weather and the country's excellent produce are responsible for the fact that southern Spain is a cold soup paradise. The queen of them all is gazpacho, a refreshing source of health and well-being. Olive oil, tomatoes, peppers, a crust of bread, a clove of garlic, salt and Sherry vinegar are part of its DNA. Make your own gazpacho following the instructions in this recipe.

4) Cocido madrileño - Madrid-style stew

This hearty stew from Madrid is imbued with the spirit of family and weekend dining. Taking one's time to prepare a dish out of top-quality ingredients is an important part of cooking in Spain. Cocido madrileño has its own rituals that define how to serve and enjoy it: the soup is eaten first, followed by the garbanzos along with the potatoes and other vegetables, and then, lastly, the meat (chicken, beef and pork). Here's our recipe.

5) Cochinillo asado - Suckling pig

Any gourmet interested in trying Spain's famous roasted suckling pig knows that the place to go is the city of Segovia (Castile-León), although nowadays this dish can be enjoyed in virtually any Spanish city. One of its most mouthwatering characteristics is the contrast between the crunchiness of the skin and the tenderness of the meat. This can only be achieved by using quality pork and the correct temperature and cooking time – all crucial factors to a successful outcome.

6) Fabada asturiana - Asturian faba bean stew

This Spanish comfort food is one of the bastions of the cuisine of Asturias. Made using local products (PGI-guaranteed beans, smoked chorizo and morcilla sausages and pork lard), this stew appears on the menu of every traditional restaurant in this northern Spanish region.

7) Croquetas - Croquettes

The only bad thing about Spanish croquetas is how quickly they are eaten as compared to how long it takes to make them. These delicate, creamy and flavorful croquettes can range from the traditional ham or chicken varieties to more innovative options like those made with squid ink, Idiazabal cheese or spinach. There are no limits where Spanish croquetas are concerned. They go well with everything.

8) Pulpo a feira - Galicia-style octopus

This is one of the most popular dishes in Galician cuisine. The tricks to getting this irresistible recipe to come out right are cooking the octopus correctly, using quality olive oil and pimentón, and sprinkling the dish with the perfect amount of sea salt

9) Rabo de toro - Ox tail

Bull's tail stew is a favorite among those who love traditional meat stews. It is typically made with beef, in addition to other ingredients like vegetables, olive oil, broth and red wine – an essential component. Córdoba and other parts of Andalusia are particularly well-known for their mastery of this dish.

10) Bacalao al pilpil - Pilpil Saltcod

The know-how of Basque chefs, who invented the ingenious pilpil sauce by applying constant motion to the dish in order to emulsify the olive oil and gelatin from the cod, has made this recipe one of the most highly acclaimed by those who love Spanish cuisine.

During the most recent edition of international culinary conference Madrid Fusión, its organizers took up this very challenge, conducting a survey among attendees of the ten most representative Spanish dishes Rodrigo García/©ICEX
Translation: Adrienne Smith/©ICEX
The 10 most characteristic
The 10 most characteristic
The 10 most characteristic
The 10 most characteristic
The 10 most characteristic
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