Almost entirely surrounded by water, Spain and Portugal’s Iberian Peninsula boasts endless coastline for some of the world’s freshest seafood and most beloved traditional dishes that go back for centuries. Don’t miss the markets, fishing villages, and an abundance of seaside dining with regional fare. What makes these dishes so unique is the diverse agriculture among the regions and the waters. On the eastern coast in Spain, Mediterranean favorites look a bit different than the western Atlantic coast in Portugal and Spain’s Galicia region. Likewise the Cantabrian Sea cuisine is vastly different from that of the Canary Islands near Africa. If seafood is your thing, Spain or Portugal is the right place for you.
When it comes to classic Spanish dishes, Paella de Mariscos is the most quintessential seafood plate. This traditional rice dish blends with all types of seafood and cooks together to make a hefty portion meant for sharing. If you’re in the Mediterranean, you’ll definitely want to try this. For octopus lovers or those looking to venture out and try something new, octopus is a beloved favorite of Spaniards. Galician Octopus is one of the most typical ways you’ll find it served garnished with paprika and thinly sliced potatoes. Many of these dishes include simple ingredients to savor the taste of the fish or seafood. Mussels, clams, shrimp, or prawns can be found simply steamed, in a sauce, or al ajillo (cooked in garlic). These dishes finished off by dipping your bread to enjoy every last bite. In Portugal, you’ll find Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato, clams soaked in a garlic, olive oil, and white wine sauce. Vieiras or Zamburiñas are hearty scallops served in their shell, usually grilled, but also can be stuffed. The difference here between vieiras and zamburiñas lies in their size, shape, and usually depends on the region you’re in.
Beyond the abundance of shellfish, mollusks, and octopus, Iberian cuisine contains a great deal of fish. Many of the fish choices differ from those you might eat in the United States, but they are worth trying, or devouring depending on your tastes. Cod is a fish that stands out all over Spain and Portugal. You might see bacalao, as it’s called in Spanish. In Portugal, cod can be found in petiscos (Portuguese lighter fare, similar to tapas) or even pastries. Bacalhau à Brás, a famous Portuguese dish, consists of shredded cod, onion, potatoes, and egg and combines to make a satisfying and indulgent seafood plate. Caldeirada, a Portuguese fish stew, combines fish, potatoes, and vegetables. Both of these seafood plates will give you a taste of Portugal, but if this doesn’t excite your tastebuds, these are just a few of the many ways to eat cod, or any seafood, in Portugal. Finally, a notable Spanish and Portuguese favorite is boquerones. While this is more eccentric for most Americans, these fresh white anchovies are a popular and delicious finger food all over the Peninsula. They can be found marinated in vinegar or fried, salted, and even served with a bit of jamón.
Wanting to learn more about these favorite seafood dishes and more? Or perhaps you want to learn to make them with one of our chefs? Ask your Valesa Customer Service Manager about including a tasting, gastronomy education, or recommended seafood restaurant into your travel itinerary to experience the local flavors. You might even bring a new dish home with you to incorporate in your own kitchen!