Secrets of Asturian gastronomy
Asturian gastronomy is known for its diversity and richness. The typical dishes of this region of Spain are characterized by the use of fresh and high-quality ingredients, as well as traditional cooking techniques. Our itinerary through the heart of Asturias is a perfect opportunity to check it out. Enjoy!
“This is delicious!” comments Elena, a Spanish traveler, as she tastes the grilled turbot served at the table. We are in a restaurant in Cudillero, a town in Asturias considered one of the most beautiful fishing ports in Spain. And, of course, seafood is a must at the table.
It was our last trip day, and before reaching the sea, we walked along high mountain trails, navigated rivers through fertile valleys, and surfed the rugged coastline. A diversity of landscapes is also reflected in the food we have tasted. Yes, Asturian gastronomy is a reflection of its natural and geographical diversity.
In general, Asturian gastronomy is a mixture of flavors and traditions that reflect the history and culture of this beautiful region of Spain. As a result, its dishes are a delight for the senses and a perfect way to experience the authentic Asturian culture.
“Do they also make Schnitzels in Asturias?” Ambros, an Austrian traveler with whom I share a table in a restaurant in Pola de Somiedo, the capital of the Council of the same name, asks me. “Although it looks similar,” I answer, “cachopo is not the same. Here they are made with beef and a layer of ham and another of cheese before being breaded. And it is one of the most famous specialties of Asturias in the rest of Spain”, I answer.
Asturian gastronomy is a reflection of its natural and geographical diversity
Meanwhile, at the same table, Frits, a Dutch traveler, chats with the restaurant owner about the different types of meat. As a good fan, he ends up deciding on the piece from the cows that the restaurant owner’s family feeds in the pastures of the mountains surrounding us. Kilometer zero, some call it.
A privileged land
“Can I repeat?” asks Mikel, a Swedish traveler who likes spoon dishes. We are in a restaurant in the Concejo de Belmonte, and Mikel has just finished a plate of fabada: the most popular stew in Asturias. Its simplicity lies in its virtue since the dish is made with white beans of a 100% native variety called “fabe” (hence the plate name), chorizo, blood sausage, and bacon. But, of course, every cook has their little tricks so that after hours of cooking over medium heat, the result is a delicious and aromatic delicacy that almost everyone wants to repeat.
Not a country for vegetarians?
“What a fresh and tasty salad!” exclaims Barbara, a Dutch traveler, as she finishes her plate. “As a vegetarian, I pay a lot of attention to the quality of the greens and vegetables, and Asturian salads need very few ingredients to be very tasty,” she comments to me in the restaurant in Pravia where we are eating after a day’s canoeing.
The Asturian vegetable garden is an orchard: lettuces, cabbages, legumes, potatoes, zucchini, peppers, onions, peas, turnips, and green beans… And there are many houses in villages that keep vegetable gardens for personal or family consumption, or sell in some of the markets of larger towns and cities.
Asturian salads need very few ingredients to be very tasty
While Paul, a Mexican traveler, asks the waiter for the name of the cheeses we have just been served on a varied board. There are 42 denominations of artisan cheeses in Asturias, of which five (Cabrales, Gamonéu, Casín, Los Beyos, and Afuega’l Pitu) have protected designation of origin.
From the sea to the plate
Our friend Elena had finished her turbot, but the rest of the table also wanted to enjoy other varieties of fish: monkfish, red mullet, crayfish, scorpionfish pie, and tuna belly. The coast of the Cantabrian Sea and the seafaring tradition of many Asturian towns provide the region with excellent raw materials and a variety of fish and seafood dishes.
Do you have a sweet tooth?
The one who is writing these lines is not very fond of sweets. But that is why I will review the two most typical and exquisite sweets of Asturias.
On the one hand, rice pudding: is a sweet dessert made with rice, milk, and sugar, often garnished with cinnamon and lemon zest. But, on the other hand, each confectioner makes it so that it is more or less liquid, more or less sweet, with more or less cinnamon… And each diner is responsible for deciding which variety they like best.
On the other hand, the frixuelos: pancakes of milk, egg, flour, and sugar that, although they resemble French crepes, are much thinner (and richer). Every time I eat one, I remember my great aunt Carmen and what frixuelos she used to make!
And to drink?
Cider is not only the most emblematic drink of Asturias; it is also an integral part of the culture and gastronomy of the region. Asturian cider is known as much for its unique flavor as for the unique way in which it is served or poured.
But you know what? I’d instead learn more about cider by toasting here with us.