From patatas bravas to gambas al ajillo, Spanish cooking is full of wonderful dishes. But what if you’re struggling to re-create these textures and flavors in your own kitchen? What can you do to make your Spanish cooking more authentic? Before you fire up the pan, here are just 13 tips for a tastier salchichon.
1. Embrace the Olive
Olives are one of the most popular ingredients in Spanish cuisine. Stuff them with nuts and cheeses; simmer them in stews and meat dishes; mash them down and spread them over sandwiches as a paste. The possibilities are both endless and delicious.
2. Go Beyond Cow’s Milk
Spanish cuisine can incorporate milk from cows, goats and sheep. There are subtle differences in everything from their cooking properties to their nutritional values, so if a recipe calls for a particular kind of milk, you’ll probably want to track it down. Don’t just assume that cow’s milk will do.
3. Experiment with Fish
Tuna isn’t the only fish on the market. Especially with Spanish cooking, you can make use of everything from bacalao (Atlantic cod fish) to necora (velvet crab). You can try fully-grown, eight-tentacled pulpo (octopus) if you dare; it’s a favorite among Galicians in north Spain.
4. Break Out the Caramel
You’re probably familiar with caramel as a dessert topping, but did you know that it can also be used in casseroles and breakfast omelettes? Caramelized onions and potatoes are at the center of tortilla espanola, providing bold flavors in a culturally authentic way.
5. Spice It Up
Pimientos de Padron are famously spicy peppers from Padron, a northwestern region of Spain. They can be eaten raw or cooked into a variety of dishes as a chili-like ingredient. One bite of pimientos de Padron and your guest will know that you’ve done your homework about Spanish cuisine.
6. Get Cheesy
Spain is home to dozens of unique cheeses. Some are sharp and biting; some are creamy and savory; some are even inoculated with mold to give them an entirely unique flavor. If you’re serious about cooking authentic Spanish meals, you’ll need to buy or make Spanish cheeses instead of using what you usually do.
7. Add More Oil
Oil is an essential component to many Spanish dishes. It can be pretty calorie-dense, so you might be tempted to use as little as possible, but it’s important not to skimp when you’re frying, glazing or sauteing. Find other ways to cut your calories.
8. Get A Little Hammy
Jamon (ham) is a booming business in Spain. There are even different categories of jamon based on what the pigs were fed and how the meat was stored. If you’re getting into Spanish cuisine, expect a lot of ham to be used in stews, salads, sandwiches and shish kabobs.
9. Don’t Be a Vegetarian
Speaking of meats, pork isn’t the only thing on the menu in Spanish restaurants. You’ll also see remnants of the animal kingdom as far-flung as pato (duck), conejo (rabbit) and anguila (eel). Broaden your horizons from your usual beefs and chickens to experience true Spanish tastes.
10. Watch Your Rice
Overcooked rice is no one’s friend, but it’s particularly frowned upon in Spanish dishes where the creamy tenderness of the rice is supposed to complement its sauces and seasonings. If you need a rice cooker to keep you from over-boiling, get one.
11. Use the Entire Egg
Some people only use egg whites in their cooking in an effort to be more health-conscious. Don’t do this with Spanish cooking! From eggs acting as a thickening agent in batter to whole fried eggs served on top of breads, the yolks are important in many Spanish dishes.
12. Skip the Ketchup
In Spanish cooking, tomatoes are used as a central ingredient, not a condiment. From the thick soups of gazpacho to the crunchy, bready bites of pan con tomate, tomatoes are a bright and vibrant way to welcome more Spanish cuisine into your life.
13. Learn from a Professional Chef
The world of spanish cooking is full of delicious recipes and delightful surprises. If you feel advanced enough take part in a Paella and Tapas class or take a more basic cooking class with Cozymeal instead and learn from a professional chef
These are just a few ways to prepare authentic Spanish cooking. Whether you’re planning an elaborate dinner or just looking for quick, culturally diverse lunches for the kids, use these tips for better success in the kitchen.