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What are your top Spanish dishes?

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David Pritchard David Pritchard | 10:00 UK time, Thursday, 4 August 2011

Filming Rick Stein’s Spain gave me the opportunity to sample the finest Spanish food around. Here are my favourites.

1. Carabineros

If you find yourself in Seville at lunchtime, then make a bee-line for El Arenal, the most famous food market in this beautiful, romantic city. Saunter past the wonderful displays of vegetables and cheeses, admire the smoked and cured meats and sausages, and maybe taste a sweet, fatty slice of Iberico ham. Next seek out the little restaurant in the heart of the market – it’s called El Pesquero. Order carabineros (massive prawns, nearly the size of a lobster) and a chilled glass of Albariño…. I was going to keep this a secret … Ooops!

Rick enjoying a plate of Carabiñeros in Seville

Picture Rick enjoying a plate of Carabiñeros in Seville

2. Fabada

When I ask someone from Asturias in Northern Spain what fabada asturiana means to them, their voice often becomes thicker and I’m sure I can see tears well up as they think of this evocative dish. This is more than a stew of white beans, chorizo, black pudding, pork and saffron: it’s the stuff of dreams and fabulous lunches - especially with a good glass of tempranillo. To taste the freshest and best while in Asturias, spot the parked lorries by the transport café – the more lorries, the better the fabada.

3. Gambas de Palamós

The prawns from Palamos on the Costa Brava are the finest in the world. We bought them straight off the boats and Rick cooked them in a cast-iron skillet lined with sea salt crystals. Once the salt started to smoke, he gently laid the prawns onto the hot crystals for about a minute or so on each side. They turned from red to pinky gold. We ate them straight from the shells and they were sublime – sweet, slightly salty and firm with a bit of a bite.

4. Chuletillas

Miguel Merino, who looks the spitting image of Danny de Vito, is one of the best wine-makers in Rioja and he made us lunch when we visited: chuletillas - tiny sweet cutlets from milk-fed lamb grilled over vine trimmings, fresh crusty bread and a large glass of his Rioja. We then had to film Miguel and Rick and all the time I was thinking “please Rick don’t eat another, you’ve already had three!” Eventually, when the filming was over, I tasted a chuletilla and can honestly say it was the best barbecued meat I’ve ever had. I wish vine trimmings for barbecues were sold here in the UK. There must be tons of them from wine-producing countries like Spain and France just going to waste.

Rick and Miguel sampling chuletillas

Rick and Miguel sampling chuletillas

5. Sopa de Ajo

If you ever find yourself near the little town of Las Pedroñeras in Southwest Spain, there’s a restaurant a mile or so outside called Los Angeles (because everyone who works there is called Angel or Angela). Angela, the cook, makes the most fabulous garlic soup of chicken stock infused with garlic and pimenton - that fiery powder made from crushed smoked red chillies. Angela gently lays a slice of stale bread in and then a raw egg, leaving satisfying threads of golden egginess. The bread quickly becomes soft and silky and the soup has to be one of the best recipes in the world.

What are your favourite Spanish dishes? And if you’ve been to Spain, do you have any insider food tips to share?

David Pritchard is the Producer of Rick Stein's Spain.


  • Comment number 1.

    Do Paella count and Escabeche. I live in Philippines and I love Spanish dishes like Paella, Escabeche and Empanada for a snack.

  • Comment number 2.

    I love Paella and Escabeche....

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 3.

    There are lots of delicious dishes in Spain. Paella, cochinillo asado, tocinillo de cielo, yemas de santa teresa, I could go on and on. I am happy that the dishes here are not the typical ones though.

    I do have a remark to make however. Carabineros is written with n, not with ñ (please see on the Spanish lexicon - second one refers to the seafood) [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 4.

    I love making Ensaladia Russa and Empanada and eating almost anything excpt offal. I can't eat pork anymore either unless I want to be ill, but ham is ok fortunately.

  • Comment number 5.

    I love puntillitas, small fried squids. As Rick mentions some indignation about cooking/eating young fish is fair, so fortunately you can't get them very much any more. Also unfortunately: they're delicious.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Sade_, thanks for the comment, we've changed it to carabineros now.

  • Comment number 7.

    Loved seeing my one of favourite parts of Spain, Extremadura, but was surprised not to see you try Torta del Casar cheese, its Spains best cheese and has only been available outside Extremadura since 1984.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think we miss out on Spanish food in the UK - amazing, considering how many people fly to Spain on holiday.

    But then, have you ever eaten in the resorts out there? It is a far cry from the beautiful dishes explored on this programme.

    I would certainly love to see the growth of the Tapas bar idea in the UK - but perhaps with English as well as Spanish foods. Mini pastries, slices of good hams and roast meats, old staples like Role Mops and Morecambe bay potted shrimps, pickles of various sorts, bowls of small potatoes roasted in goose fat - you could have a lot of fun.

    But then, would the average Briton appreciate it? Probably not - they would still prefer a packet of ghastly crisps and some cheap, awful larger. Just as they do when they go to Spain.

  • Comment number 9.

    I was born and grew up in Lima attending San Silvestre until 1968. So, I know my Peruvian History. When Francisco Pizarro captured the last Inca Atahualpa, the Santa Inquisicion or Saint Inquisition tried to convert Atahualpa to the Catholic Religion. He refused. Rick Stein mentioned that after Atahualpa had tried to obtain his freedom by giving Pizarro the mountain of gold he had he was executed. That is not quite right. Atahualpa was executed by hanging because he would not be converted to the Catholic Religion and did not want to be baptised.

  • Comment number 10.

    Paella isn't in top 5 ??

  • Comment number 11.

    @hastings - absolutely agree - there is no reason we shouldn't take the best of British and offer them in small portions to accompany a drink in a bar. Some of the salt in the spanish tapas would play havoc with your blood pressure so lets say hello to some British classics and a fond farewell to cold roast potatoes on Sunday, crisps, salted nuts and pork scratchings.

  • Comment number 12.

    I just recently returned from a Catalan holiday/food fest. I left a food dairy on the food messageboards so you can read about the unforgettable time that I had while there!

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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