Traditional Food of Asturias – Part 1
Asturias is a region in Spain that is known as Green Spain, which includes the Basque Country (El Pais Vasco), Cantabria, Galicia, and of course Asturias. And the term comes from the landscape, as this part of northern Spain is verdant and green and very luscious. Sandwiched between Cantabara to the east, Castilla to the south, and Galicia to the west, Asturias has miles of rugged coastline towering over the Cantabric sea. It is hardly surprising that Asturias is famous for its fine fish dishes and seafood.
Like a great deal of Spaniard’s the people of Asturias are fiercely proud of their heritage, and it was the Asturians that fought off the Moors in 722 AD. After that famous victory Asturians were considered rural people, simple farmers and fishermen where a great deal of their food hails from. Asturias has been called northern Spain’s land of cheese, there are over two dozen different breeds of cow, and there are many great goat and sheep cheeses produced also. In this blog we look at some of the famous dishes from Asturias, starting with a wholesome bean and sausage casserole.
Asturian bean and sausage casserole is one of the most famous of the region. It is a thick and hearty dish and has become so famous that you can find fabada in many different places around the world. The classic combination of sausages and beans is loved by many.
The recipes for fabada were brought back from Latin America but adapted with local produce. Currently in many parts of Asturias you can find fabada kits in many supermarkets, little packages with ham, sausages and other ingredients needed for making this classic dish. Fabada is the local word for the type of bean that is grown in Asturias, and it is also used in other rustic dishes the most famous being a rabbit stew.
Having an abundance of coastline it is hardly surprising that one of the main dishes of the region contains fish. And again reflective of the humble roots of Asturias it is a stew. Caldereta however, is not your basic fish stew, it can contain lobster and crab as well as the fish. The base of the stew is made with tomatoes, onions, white wine and parsley and after the fish is added and the pot has come to a simmer the dish is finally finished off with a good glug of Spanish brandy.
Merluza a la Sidra
Asturias is famed throughout Spain for its magnificent cider, and this dish is a staple dish on many restaurant menus around the region. Basically it is freshly caught hake, which is cooked in a sauce made of cider, garlic, apples, tomato, onions and potatoes. The common way of cooking Merluza a la Sidra is in a ceramic dish and the hake is baked.
It is hardly surprising that these three filling stews are almost peasant dishes, as that is what the region of Asturias is all about. However, the ingredients are fresh, and in season, and come from the land and the sea in the local vicinity. These dishes may sound simple but they are utterly delicious and we discover more regional delicacies from Asturias in part two.