Fish, which salted and dried, is particularly popular in Spanish gastronomy. Salt cod has been part of traditional Spanish cooking since the 16th century, when the Basque fishermen fished on the coasts of Terranova. Curiously, the Spaniards consider that fresh cod lacks the culinary virtues of the salted variety and fishmongers see little demand for it. However, once having undergone the curing process, its fat concentration increases – particularly in the skin - and this virtue is not lost after soaking it in water for several hours to eliminate the salt before cooking. During the cooking process, the fat is released and binds with the base sauce, forming a succulent, gelatinous substance. Salt cod may be prepared in a variety of ways, pairing with ingredients that would be unthinkable in other fish dishes, but the pil-pil recipe is unique. The salt cod is stirred vigorously - shaking the dish - while adding extra virgin olive oil little by little, to form a creamy sauce, similar in colour and texture to mayonnaise, in which the fish is cooked. The dish is both simple and delicious.
Literally meaning shack or hut, barraca can refer more specifically to the type of working hut built in the regions of Murcia and Valencia by farmers in the field, made with adobe and very steep thatch roof.
This is the traditional technique for cultivating mussels in the Galician rías (salt water river estuaries). A batea is a floating nursery made of a criss-cross of eucalyptus wood forming a rectangular platform from which ropes are attached, to which the mussels adhere. This too is an environmentally-friendly method.
A white meat fish of the Thunnus family, smaller than tuna (approximately 10 kg / 22 lb in weight and 1 m / 3.2 ft in length). It is very popular in Spanish gastronomy, whether fresh or preserved. Albacore is abundant in the Bay of Biscay, where from July to September it is fished individually, by rod with live bait - an ecologically friendly method. Its preparation varies depending on the region: in the Basque Country, it is usually grilled over charcoal in large pieces (the belly, in slices...), with fried garlic, hot pepper, vinegar and parsley added at the end; it is also eaten in marmitako (a sailors’ potato-based stew). In the interior, albacore is usually cooked with tomato or onions. But preserved albacore (in oil or brine) is also highly regarded and used in salads, omelettes and even sandwiches.
Or anchoa, this is a small fish (approximately 12 cm /4.7 in long) belonging to the same family as the sardine, and highly regarded in Spanish gastronomy, whether eaten fresh or preserved. In the majority of Spanish regions, the fish is known by two names: anchoa, when salted, and boquerón when fresh or preserved in vinegar. However, in northern Spain, it is known only as anchoa. The boquerón season runs from April to July. The anchovies from the Bay of Biscay – first salted and then tinned in olive oil - and those from the Costa Brava (Girona, Catalonia) – preserved directly in brine - are particularly famous. In Madrid and other areas of central Spain, they are frequently prepared in vinegar: first, they must be cleaned, and only the backs are marinated in a mixture of olive oil, vinegar, salt, garlic and parsley. In Andalusia, they are usually fried: cleaned and floured, they are lightly fried in very hot olive oil to give them a crunchy texture.
Processed meat typical in Catalonia and made from pork loin, bacon, salt and pepper. There are numerous varieties of butifarra, depending on the area in Catalonia where it is made, but in general there are two types, white and black. There are those who add eggs or truffles to the white, whilst the black may also contain onions and blood. The ingredients are chopped, salted and left to stand for approximately five days, after which they are stuffed into the casings and cooked. Butifarra is eaten all through the year, although the egg variety is more common during Lent and the truffle type at Christmas. It may be eaten raw, fried, roasted or stewed. A typical and easy to prepare Catalan dish is butifarra with dry white beans (botifarra amb mongetes): the butifarra is fried slowly until done inside; then the beans (previously cooked) are lightly fried in the same fat. The two ingredients are served on the same plate garnished with chopped garlic and parsley.
Small, round sweet fritters made from a light dough fried in olive oil and filled with custard or cream. The dough is made with flour, eggs, milk, butter, sugar and grated lemon rind. There are those who add dash of brandy or powdered yeast for a fluffier consistency. When the dough is ready, it is rolled into balls of some 5 cm / 1.9 in diameter and fried in oil, then drained and cut to introduce the filling. Buñuelos de viento are typical in Madrid, although also found in other areas, and are generally eaten in November for All Saints Day. Recipes for these fritters may be found as early as 1611, in Martínez Montiño's book Arte de Cocina (The Art of Cooking). The dictionary of the Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy) refers to them with the captivating name of "fruta de sartén" (fruit of the frying pan).