Galician cuisine, with its great tradition and abundance of variety, is one of the most important aspects of Galician culture and society. What Galician family has never celebrated a feast? Whether in summer, winter or spring. They have a very characteristic way of understanding cuisine, which has placed it among the most popular in Spain, thanks to its quality and simplicity.
Something else that also characterises this peculiar gastronomy, is the wise combination of products and, most importantly: their quality. Dishes are usually plentiful and very tasty.
If you are a temporary visitor and you aren’t sure which dishes to try in order to 100% capture the essence of Galicia, we are here to help.
Pulpo á feira (Octopus)
Without a doubt, this is this community’s dish par excellence. There aren’t many bars where you won’t find this cooked octopus sprinkled with paprika, olive oil and salt.
The secret of this recipe is perhaps the tradition of striking the octopus between 30 and 40 times if it is fresh, and placing some copper in the pan before boiling it.
Caldo a la gallega (Galician style soup)
It is a fantastic starter which is served hot, so if you are in Galicia in winter, this is your ideal dish (although many lovers of Galician style soup have it on the hottest days too).
Caldo gallego contains turnip greens, turnip tops, ‘cachelos’ or boiled potatoes, collard greens or white cabbage, white beans, pork fat and additional ingredients which might include pancetta, chorizo or pork shoulder. All of this is boiled with beef bones and, olive oil is added at the end.
Empanada gallega (Galician pie)
One of the best things about this recipe is that there are infinite possibilities, you will always come across different versions. It is a dough similar to bread, made with flour, pork lard, yeast, eggs, white wine, olive oil, water and salt.
The filling can vary, but the most common pies include tuna and pepper, scallops or cod with raisins, or octopus.
Lacón con grelos (Shoulder of pork with turnip tops)
To make ‘lacón con grelos’, we need bacon, chorizo, cachelos (boiled potatoes) and, of course, shoulder of pork and turnip tops. This typical and traditional wintery dish consists of a simple recipe, so we only have to cook the ingredients and, if desired, add some fat to give the stock some more flavour.
An interesting fact is that the harvesting and season for turnip tops coincides with carnival, so this dish is always present for every celebration involving costumes.
Pimientos de Padrón (Padron peppers)
As we all know… “uns pican e outros non” (some are hot and some are not). These delicious peppers coming from the Padrón region, situated in the province of A Coruña, are served by themselves with salt.
They originate from America, and it is said that they were brought over from there to the province by Franciscan monks. The monks started to grow them in the Parish of Santa María, situated in the same region.
Cocido gallego (Galician stew)
Galician stew is, without a doubt, one of the most popular dishes in winter among all Galicians. This stew includes the different parts of the pig, including the ears, ribs and shoulder, as well as bacon, chorizo and beans. It is always accompanied by vegetables such as collard greens, cabbage and turnip tops.
They are served separately, on the one hand the stock and on the other, a tray with meat and another with the vegetables.
Churrasco (barbecued meat)
More recent than all of the previous ones but, nowadays, it is one of the most popular dishes of summer. It is barbecued pork ribs and is usually accompanied with salad and fries.
This is a blue fish which is eaten particularly in the summer months of July and August. The more fat they contain, the tastier they are.
There are a thousand ways of preparing them, but the most common is barbecued.
Callos a la gallega (Galician style tripe)
A very common dish with beef tripe, chickpeas, chorizo and some spices such as thyme and paprika, which give it that special aroma and flavour.
It is the most emblematic stew of Galicia. The tripe has to be washed thoroughly in hot and cold water, whilst also being rubbed with vinegar. Next, they are cooked, already diced with cow’s feet.
Mariscada (Seafood platter)
When people ask about Galician cuisine, this is what always comes to mind. The union of seafood and fishermen with this land goes back centuries. Barnacles, bay scallops, razor clams, sea scallops, clams, spider crabs, velvet crabs… all stand out, although there is a huge variety.
It is the main food of any important or emblematic celebration of Galicia, including Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
There is no more and no less than 20 million kilogrammes of cheese produced each year in this autonomous community. They constitute another of this region’s exquisite delicacies.
Galicia has 4 denominations of origin in cheeses: Arzúa-Ulloa, Tetilla, San Simón da Costa and O Cebreiro.
Mince with the meat used to fill chorizos, also very typical of the community. To make it, we have to marinate the meat for 24 hours with garlic, sweet paprika, hot paprika, oregano, olive oil and salt. Next, it is fried in a frying pan on a low heat until it turns a golden colour.
It is served hot, generally with boiled potatoes which are dressed with the sauce produced from cooking the meat. It is a dish linked to the slaughter of pigs and is usually only eaten in winter. It is also known as “jijas” or “moraga”.
Merluza a la gallega (Galician style hake)
The ingredients to make this dish include Galician hake, potatoes, onion, garlic, bay leaves, La Vera smoked paprika, fish stock and salt. It is made by boiling the potatoes with the onion, garlic and bay leaves in the stock. Then the hake is added until it is cooked.
A garlic sauce is made separately. To do this, the garlic is browned in oil. When they are brown, the paprika is added. The dish is served by laying a base of potatoes, placing the hake on top and sprinkling the garlic sauce on top.
Let’s move on to desserts. Galicia also has plenty of sweet cuisine. Filloas are made with milk, flour, eggs and salt. They are similar to crepes, the difference being that they don’t contain butter.
This Galician crepe originates from Roman times and is a very typical dish of Carnival season. You will love its sweet and more traditional version with a filling of quince or chestnut purée, but we can also find them in bakeries with custard, cream or chocolate filling.
Tarta de Santiago (Santiago cake)
A very typical and simple Galician dessert. It is not a sponge, but a tartlet with a simple filling of eggs, almonds, sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest. Once cooked, it is sprinkled with icing sugar, leaving the iconic mark of the Santiago cross.
As its name suggests, it originates from Santiago de Compostela, but is popular throughout the community. It can be found in establishments in every town of the Galician community.
If you have the opportunity to try each of the dishes from this post, congratulations, the pleasure is all yours. You will enjoy the best of everything and take the true Galician essence away with you.