A Guide to Seafood in Spain: Top Spanish Seafood Dishes for Seafood Lovers
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- BEST SEAFOOD DISHES IN SPAIN SEAFOOD AFICIONADOS RAVE ABOUT
- 1. SEA URCHIN (Erizo de mar marisco)
- 2. GOOSE BARNACLES (Percebes)
- 3. SCALLOPS (Vieiras)
- 4. CLAMS IN SHERRY SAUCE (Almejas a la Gaditana)
- 5. RAZOR CLAMS (Navajas)
- 6. MUSSELS (Mejillones)
- 7. OYSTERS (Ostras)
- 8. SHRIMPS IN GARLIC (Gambas al ajillo)
- 9. OCTOPUS FROM GALICIA (Pulpo a la Gallega)
- 10. FRIED FISH FROM ANDALUSIA (Pescaito Frito)
- 11. SEAFOODS PAELLA (Paella de marisco)
- 12. SPANISH BLACK RISOTTO (El Arroz Negro)
- 13. SPICY SPANISH-STYLE CODFISH (Bacalao Ajoarriero)
- 14. THE BASQUE-STYLE FRIED CODFISH (Bacalao Al Pil Pil)
- 15. CODFISH WITH FAUX BABY EELS (Bacalao con gulas)
- WHERE TO EAT SEAFOOD IN SPAIN
- FOOD TOURS IN SPAIN
BEST SEAFOOD DISHES IN SPAIN SEAFOOD AFICIONADOS RAVE ABOUT
The most famous Spanish seafood dish is likely seafood paella, but there is a wealth of amazing seafood dishes in Spain beyond paella. If you are after mouthwatering fish platters and extraordinary appetizing seafood platters, you should plan your trip to Spain.
Seafood in Spanish is mariscos, and shellfish in Spanish is called mariscos as well. However, shellfish alone don’t make seafood, but fish, roe, and echinoderms too. And Spain certainly doesn’t lack different types of seafood. Fish in Spanish is called el pescado and Spainairds are proven virtuosos de pascado (fish virtuosos). Fish in Spain is traditionally prepared in various ways and it comes in different kinds of dishes. But, shellfish in Spain is mostly eaten somewhat raw and it is mostly served as tapas.
But, let me list here some of the best seafood in Spain and famous Spanish dishes you need to try with the seafood names and pictures.
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The most amazing seafood from Spain:
1. SEA URCHIN (Erizo de mar marisco)
A glorified delicacy in Spain and further, sea urchins are often called the truffle of the sea. Sea urchins in Spanish are called ‘erizos de mar‘. In Spain, edible sea urchins are considered to be one of the Spanish delicacies for their unique flavor. The ‘sea hedgehog’ is especially appreciated in Galicia and Catalonia (on the Costa Brava) in northern Spain.
If you wonder how to eat sea urchins, you should know that sea urchins are opened with a large curved knife or scissors. Their gonads (the reproductive organs), also called uni, lie on the sea urchins’ shells. Gonads are the part of the sea urchins which is edible.
Gonads (roe) are scooped out with a spoon. The yellow, gold, or red in color gonads are softer than oysters with no need for chewing. Sea urchins are very light in taste, salty, and with an almost foamy texture what makes them a perfect Spanish tapa dish (Spanish appetizer).
Raw sea urchins are best enjoyed with white sparkling Spanish wine. Edible sea urchins are a treat in many world’s cuisines not only in Spanish cuisine and some other Mediterranean cuisines, like Italian cuisine for instance, but also in Japanese cuisine, Alaskan cuisine, Chilean cuisine, and Norwegian cuisine to name a few.
2. GOOSE BARNACLES (Percebes)
Goose barnacles, called percebes in Spain, are another Spanish seafood delicacy from Galicia and Asturias and arguably the weirdest seafood in Spain and one of the best Spain foods in general. This is the ultimate luxury seafood with prices coming up at 200 EUROS per kilo and during holidays even more. As always, true luxury lies in simplicity. That goes with Spanish goose barnacles too. All you need to do is to boil percebes in seawater and twist their tube to enjoy the fleshy part of percebes.
3. SCALLOPS (Vieiras)
Scallops are highly admired seafood in Spain and all Mediterranean. Scallops in Spanish are called vieiras, but you can find two types of scallops in tapas bars, restaurants, and fresh seafood markets in Spain: vieiras (sea scallops) and zamburiñas (variegated scallops). Spanish scallops come from the region of Galicia. Even shell of the scallop is the symbol of the famous Christian pilgrimage route of Santiago the Compostela in Galicia, the Camino de Santiago.
These days scallops are farmed along the Atlantic coast in Galicia. Galician-style scallops are traditionally prepared with tiny pieces of Spanish ham, and a garlic-onion sauce with parsley, lemon, and olive oil.
4. CLAMS IN SHERRY SAUCE (Almejas a la Gaditana)
Clam in Spanish is called almeja. Clams are well-liked seafood in Spain. Almejas a la Gaditana is a famous Andalusian seafood dish prepared in a way that clams are cooked in a broth made of olive oil, finely chopped garlic, Sherry wine, chopped parsley, a little bit of salt and pepper. Simple, delicious, and relatively cheap – what else does a seafood lover need?! You just need to try this famous dish from southern Spain!
Rich in flavor and firm in texture razor shells, or navajas in Spanish, are highly prized seafood in Spain. Spanish razor clams are one of the fancy seafood dishes and one of the most expensive seafood dishes too. Razors shells in Spain come from the Galicia region. Traditionally they are grilled with olive oil, a bit of garlic and served with lemon.
6. MUSSELS (Mejillones)
Once a poor man’s food, Spanish mussels, or mejillones in Spanish, are one of the best seafood you can find in Spain. Mussels in Spain come steamed with a light white wine as a tapa dish and served with lemon (mejillones al vapor) or as an ingredient of rice dishes (like mussel paella), seafood soups, or stews with wine and paprika (like mejillones en escabeche). Make sure to sample Spanish mussels tapas when in Spain!
7. OYSTERS (Ostras)
Spanish oysters are another delicacy coming from Galicia and the one with aphrodisiac powers. If you want to taste fresh oysters, look for osteriars in Galicia. They are best enjoyed with a glass of the finest Spanish white wine. You might want marinated oysters (ostras en escabeche) but arguably the best ones are raw oysters.
One peculiarity: Nowadays the Galician coast is widely used for oysters breeding. Even oysters from Portugal and Japan are farmed in Galicia. So, if you are a seafood fanatic who would like to try out some first-class oysters but you are pondering over a trip to Spain or Portugal, the choice is obvious. Book your ticket to Spain and head to Galicia!
8. SHRIMPS IN GARLIC (Gambas al ajillo)
Spanish prawns in garlic, or gambas al ajillo, is a typical seafood dish in Spain coming originally from Andalusia. Prawns cooked with garlic, parsley, Sherry wine, and lemon is food for the soul. This classic Spanish tapa dish you can find in every tapas bar in Spain.
Shrimp in Spain is a highly praised food. Shrimps in Spain come with various names depending on their size. From the largest shrimps called langostinos in Spain and medium-size shrimps called gamabas to small in size but expensive camarones. No matter of the size, shrimps in Spain are always a first-class delicacy!
9. OCTOPUS FROM GALICIA (Pulpo a la Gallega)
Galician style octopus and is one of the most famous seafood dishes in Spain. Pulpo a la Gallega is a simple tapa dish made of boiled octopus, cut into small bite-size pieces, and sprinkled with olive oil, salt, and lots of paprika. It is also called Pulpo a la Feria for its popularity at parties and festivals. Don’t forget, Galicia offers the best seafood in Spain. And octopus, or pulpo in Spanish, is so much worshiped in Galicia that there are even restaurants in Galicia called pulperias dedicated to eating octopuses.
10. FRIED FISH FROM ANDALUSIA (Pescaito Frito)
Fresh fish and olive oil always make a winning combo in Mediterranean cuisine. That’s the case with Spanish cuisine too.
Fried fish in Spanish is called pescaito frito. Spanish fried fish tapas are common food you can find on almost every corner in Spain. Andalusian deep-fried fish is a typical tapa dish but you can find it in Spain as the main course too. Deep-fried fresh anchovies (boquerones fritos), prawns, calamari rings, small squids (puntillitas) are just a few tasty fried fish to be listed here.
11. SEAFOODS PAELLA (Paella de marisco)
Spanish seafood paella is a famous food in Spain and doesn’t need any special introduction to seafood enthusiasts around the World. Paella de marisco, or seafood paella with crustaceans and shellfish is simply a dream come true to all seafood lovers. Rice, sofrito (finely chopped garlic, onion, red peppers, and tomatoes), seafood, rosemary, and saffron is all you need to make this 5-star seafood dish.
12. SPANISH BLACK RISOTTO (El Arroz Negro)
Popular el arroz negro is a mouthwatering Spanish rice dish prepared of white rice with black squid ink, squid or cuttlefish, olive oil, and seafood broth.
Spanish black risotto originates from Valencia and Catalonia. It is also sometimes called ‘black paella‘, although it is a risotto, not paella. Spanish ‘el arroz negro‘ is similar to a famous Italian dish called ‘risotto al nero di seppia‘, and a traditional Croatian dish called ‘crni rižoto od sipe‘.
13. SPICY SPANISH-STYLE CODFISH (Bacalao Ajoarriero)
Codfish dishes are among the most popular fish dishes in Spanish cuisine, especially in northern Spain. And Bacalao Ajoarriero is one of the most famous Spanish codfish dishes.
Ajoarriero is a popular Spanish codfish stew originating from the Navarre region and the Basque country in northern Spain. ‘Ajoarriero‘ literally translates to ‘mule driver’s garlic‘. The dish was named after ancient mule drivers who would have stopped for a meal in the inns along the way on their routes in northern Spain. Ajoarriero is a simple dish made from cod chunks cooked with olive oil, grated tomatoes, potatoes, chopped pepper, chopped onion, and lots of – lots of minced garlic cloves and smoked Pimentón de la Vera paprika.
Ajoarriero is also known as ‘Bacalao de Pamplona’ in Pamplona. Just to add, Bacalao de Pamplona became worldwide famous thanks to Ernest Hemingway whose favorite dish it was while he lived in Pamplona.
14. THE BASQUE-STYLE FRIED CODFISH (Bacalao Al Pil Pil)
Iconic Bacalao Al Pil Pil is the most famous Basque dish and one of the most popular seafood dishes in Spain.
The secret of making delicious Bacalao Al Pil-Pil lies in emulsification. To make a long story short, simply simmering the pot with salted cod, olive oil and garlic emulsify them into fantastic pil pil sauce.
If you are planning a trip to Bilbao or San Sebastian, divineBacalao Al Pil-Pil needs to be on your list of must-try traditional Basque dishes!
15. CODFISH WITH FAUX BABY EELS (Bacalao con gulas)
If you are traveling to northern Spain (the Basque Country and Asturias) and you want to taste an exotic Spanish seafood dish, you might want to try Bacalao con Gulas! Fried fresh codfish served with added sauteed fake baby eels over the cod, makes one of the most unique Spanish seafood dishes! In the past, this dish was made with baby eels instead of gulas (fake baby eels). But, since baby eels are enormously expensive in Spain (reaching up to 1,000 euros a kilo), Spanish chefs invented ‘gulas’, a paste of processed fish that imitates eels. Surprisingly, gulas taste as much fishy as eels, but they are softer than eels.
To end, this is only a shortlist of seafood delicacies from Spain. Some of the noteworthy seafood dishes that could be added to the list of seafood dishes in Spain are Suquet (a Catalan fish stew made of different fish and shellfish, saffron and almonds), Tonyina a l’eivissenca (Ibizian style tuna with pine nuts, raisins, and white wine), Bullit de Peix (Ibiza style fish stew with sofrido tomato sauce and arroz a banda), Peix Sec (Balerian islands style dried fish traditionally added to salads), and Dorada a la Sal (Murcia style salted baked seam bream). And different types of Spanish crabs and super-expensive lobsters! Yes, the list goes up!
WHERE TO EAT SEAFOOD IN SPAIN
Seafood in Spain is served in Spanish taverns, restaurants, tapas bars, freidurías (‘fried fish to go’ small establishments in Spain) and cocederos (‘cooked fish to go’ small Spanish establishments). But some of the best seafood in Spain you can find in the seafood corners of fresh food markets.
Where to eat seafood in Madrid:
- Famous seafood tapas bars in Madrid: La Dorada, and La Barraca,
- Amazing Mercado de San Miguel market in Madrid.
Where to eat seafood in Barcelona, Catalonia:
- Famous seafood restaurants in Barcelona: Passadis del Pep, Els Pescadors, 7 Portes, and La Paradeta
- Worldwide known Bouqueria market in Barcelona
Where to eat seafood in Cadiz, Andalusia:
- Famous seafood restaurants in Cadiz: Pena flamenca Juanito Villar, El Faro de Cadiz, Alamar, Aurelio, and la Dorada bar.
- Fabulous Mercado Publico market in Cadiz.
Where to eat seafood in Vigo, Galicia:
Vigo in Galicia is the largest European fresh fish port and the biggest fishing port in the World. Naturally, the best seafood in Spain you can find in Vigo. The city of Vigo is popularly called the seafood capital of Spain. The Vigo estuary is home of the finest fresh oysters, mussels, barnacles, crabs, shrimps, octopus, cuttlefish, sea bass and more.
- Famous seafood restaurants in Vigo: Timon Playa, Casa Vella, and El Mosquito
- And check out street stalls along Rúa da Pescadería street (also called Rúa das Ostras – Oyster Street by locals).
FOOD TOURS IN SPAIN
If you are interested in traditional Spanish cuisine beyond seafood, a great way to explore Spain and to eat like a local while in Spain is to take a food tour: from tasting tapas, secret food tours, Spanish cooking classes, tasting sherry wines, and authentic Spanish wines, to touring local markets and having typical Spanish dinner while watching traditional flamenco show.
Eat like a local and explore authentic Spanish cuisine.
FOOD TOURS IN MADRID
FOOD TOURS IN BARCELONA
- Tapas Tour for Lovers of Spanish Food in Barcelona
- Secret Food Tour in Barcelona
- Private Cooking Class & Market Tour in Barcelona
FOOD TOURS IN VALENCIA
FOOD TOURS IN MALAGA
- Evening Wine & Tapas Tour in Malaga
- Tapas Tasting Tour in Malaga
- 3-Hour tapas Tour & Flamenco Show in Malaga
FOOD TOURS IN GRANADA
FOOD TOURS IN SEVILLE
- Spanish Cooking Class with Dinner in Seville
- 3.5 Hour Spanish Cooking Class & Food Market Tour in Seville
- Spanish Tapas Cooking Class in Seville
- Wine & Sherry Day Tour from Seville
- Wine & Sherry Day Trip to Jerez and Cadiz from Seville
FOOD TOURS IN PALMA DE MALLORCA
FOOD TOURS IN SAN SEBASTIAN
What do you think of these top seafood dishes from Spain? Have you tried any Spanish dish with seafood?
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