11 Foods You Must Try in Galicia Spain

Here are 11 delicious foods to try in Galacia, Spain
Here are 11 delicious foods to try in Galacia, Spain

I’ve always thought of Spain as one of the most exciting culinary countries in the world. There are so many delicious foods that you have to try when you travel to Spain.

The best part is that each separate area of Spain has its own set of tasty dishes. If you think you’ve tried all the food specialties there are in Spain, you’re probably very wrong, especially if you haven’t visited every region.

Galicia has over 1,000 miles of coastline, which means there is an abundance of seafood – both fish and shellfish.

There land is covered with the vineyards of the Rias Baixas wine region, which produces Albarino white wines, so there is surely always wine to go with your meal.

Galicia’s proximity to Portugal has also had an impact on the culinary landscape. The two countries share many similarities in cuisine. You’ll definitely find hearty stews and sauces, many seafood and rice dishes, and a heavy reliance on vegetables, dairy, and the foods local farming is able to produce.

If you’re new to Spanish food, here’s a primer. We’ve found in our travels around Spain that nothing is over complicated. They cook with stellar ingredients that don’t need a lot of coaxing. They keep it simple and let the ingredients speak for themselves. It’s simple, yet incredibly flavorful.

Here are 11 foods you must try in Galicia – the best of the best. While I was there, we had the chance to do a cooking class, where we learned how to make some of these great dishes. See the video at the end of this post.

Albariño wine from Rias Baixas

Pazo Rubianes
Pazo Rubianes (Photo by Savored Journeys)

I’m starting with the wine, because it’s always the most important thing to try in any region. I don’t say that just because I love wine, but because when you live in a wine region where grape vines surround you, the wine tends to flow like water.  It becomes a major aspect of your culture, as well as your identity as a community. For sure, the Albariño wine that is produced in the Rias Baixas region of Galicia is one of the most celebrated products of the area. It is served at every meal (okay, maybe not breakfast), and it is the iconic pairing for every dish that comes from Galicia. Read more about the Rias Baixas wine region.

Arroz Marinero Gallego

Arroz Marinero Gallego
Arroz Marinero Gallego (photo by Savored Journeys)

This rice dish is also called “marine” rice. While it’s similar to the famous Spanish paella from Valencia, it does have many differences – the major one being that arroz marinero doesn’t have meat in it. It’s called marine rice because of the abundance of seafood in the dish. It’s common to add prawns, clams, mussels and squid. I particularly like the razor clams that were added to the version that I tried. The razor clams are tender and sweet. They add a nice texture to the rice.

We had a rice dish in Catalonia that was made with only meat, no seafood. It is, of course, a popular dish around the world, but Spain has definitely perfected it from every angle. See all the dishes we tried in Catalonia, Spain.

Empanadas Gallega

Empanadas Gallega
Empanadas Gallega (photo by Savored Journeys)

If you’ve had Argentinean empanadas, you might be as surprised by the Galician version as I was. Instead of an individual hand-held pie, empanadas gallega is more of a regular pie that is cut into pieces. The filling is typically made up of meat or fish (or even mussels), with peppers, onions and paprika. The filling is them placed between two crust and baked as a pie.

The crust comes out incredibly crispy and crunchy. It’s the perfect handheld snack, which is why it’s often served as an appetizer. I tried a few different versions of empanadas gallega – one with a flour crust and a tuna filling, and one with a corn crust and a mussels filling. Both were delicious.

Pulpo a la Gallega

Pulpo a la Gallega is served in olive oil with salt and paprika
Pulpo a la Gallega is served in olive oil with salt and paprika

We’ve shared a recipe for Pulpo a la Gallega on Savored Journeys’ Global Gourmet series. Octopus (known as pulpo in Spain) is surprisingly easy to make at home. The most important thing is to source a high-quality octopus, that has been previously frozen, which helps with tenderization. It’s cooked in boiling water for only about 20 minutes, then cut into pieces and served with a really high-quality olive oil and paprika. The slightly chewy, yet tender morsels are unbelievably good.

San Simon Smoked Cheese (DOP)

San Simon smoked cheese
San Simon smoked cheese (photo by Savored Journeys)

You know you’ve found a truly regional product when it has a DOP stamp on it. San Simon smoked cheese is one of Galicia’s DOP products. It’s made from cow’s milk from the Rubia Gallega, Parda-Alpina and Friesian breeds and cross-breeds. It must be ripened for a minimum of 30 days. It is then smoked with birch wood. The texture is smooth with a bit of elasticity, a caramel rind from the smoking, and a subtle, but distinctive smoky flavor.

Caldo Gallega

Caldo Gallega
Caldo Gallega (photo via Flickr by juantiagues)

Eaten typically in the winter, Caldo Gallega is a much-loved stew. “Caldo” means broth, but this stew is more than just a soupy broth. It is packed full of hearty things like potatoes, beans, greens and meats, like chorizo or other cuts of pork. The flavors all meld together to form a particularly tasty and soul-warming stew.

Tarta de Santiago

Tarta de Almendra, exclusively found in northwestern Spain in the Galician territory
Tarta de Almendra, exclusively found in northwestern Spain in the Galician territory (Photo: Samantha En Route)

Tarta de Santiago is a typical cake dessert in Galicia. It’s made with almond flour, eggs and sugar. The dense, but moist, cake is then sprinkled with powdered sugar and served for dessert with coffee. It’s sweet, but not overwhelming. The almond gives a lovely aroma and taste to the cake.

Pementos de Padrón

Pementos de Padron
Pementos de Padron (photo by Savored Journeys)

If you’ve been eating in Spain for a while, you already know that Spaniards don’t really like spicy food. It’s a bit strange to see them always snacking on these little blistered peppers from Padrón, a municipality in the province of A Coruña in Galicia. However, Padrón peppers are not typically spicy – only about 15% are spicy. The Galicians have a saying “Os pementos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non” , which translates as “Padrón peppers, some are hot, some are not”. The peppers are so tasty that they just take their chances!

Almejas a la Marinera

Almejas a la Marinera
Almejas a la Marinera (photo by Savored Journeys)

Clams are used in many different dishes in Galicia. They are found in abundance in the waters of the Galician coast. You can even spend some time learning about the traditional method used for harvesting the shellfish on a guided tour with the Guimatur, which is a cultural organization made up of women shellfishers who have been upholding the clamming business in and around Cambados for many, many years. They aim to share the fishing culture and values, and to help visitors understand the way of life of the Galician fishing people.

The clams and shellfish harvested in Cambados are prepared and sold at auction every afternoon. They are served in most restaurants of the area, using many different recipes. One of my favorites is “a la Marinera”. It took me a while to figure out what all was in the sauce. It’s made with a dry white wine (preferably Albarino), minced onions, paprika, parsley, garlic, and lemon juice. Once you’ve eaten all the clams, you will be compelled to soak up the rest of the sauce with the bread.

Mussels

Mussels and other shellfish are in abundance in Galicia
Mussels and other shellfish are in abundance in Galicia (photo by Savored Journeys)

The Rías Baixas area is abundant with mussels. If you take a trip out to the island of Arousa, you’ll see why there are mussels in abudance in Galicia. The Ría de Arousa estuary is the largest of the estuaries of Galicia. Mussels are grown in floating nurseries called “bateas” all along the Galician coastline. The wooden platforms can be seen when looking out across the bay, but the best way to witness the farming of mussels is to take a boat ride out to see the bateas in person. (To set this up, visit this website and contact Gabi Comojo Cristobo. He was our boat guide for the trip out to Arousa and is highly recommended.)

Every day, fishermen head out to the platforms with fishing boats to tend to the mussels as they grow, and harvest them once they’ve reached the right size.

Mussels farms in Arousa
Mussels farms in Arousa (photo by Savored Journeys)

If you’re a big mussels fan, you’ll want to coordinate your trip to Galicia to coincide with the annual Arousa Mussels Festival in August, when thousands of people flock to the area to sample and celebrate the mussels.

Churrasco

Churrasco
Churrasco (photo by juantiagues from Pontevedra, España (Pontevedra-Feira franca 2013-Costillar al espeto) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
It’s definitely a fact that there’s more seafood eaten in Galicia than meat, but there is something special in Galicia for meat lovers. Churrasco in Galicia, refers almost exclusively to grilled pork or beef spare-ribs, though it also includes beef and most any grilled meat. A churrascada is a popular social gathering in Galicia, which is basically the same type of event as a BBQ, where many different meats are grilled up and served family style for everyone who’s gathered.

COOKING CLASS IN GALICIA

As promised, here is a video of our cooking class in Galicia, where we learned how to make some of the dishes mentioned in this post:

CONCLUSION

As you can see, there are many unique dishes and  foods you must try in Galicia. It is no doubt one of the best regions in Spain for food. When you’re there visiting, I hope you find each of these dishes and that you enjoy them as much as I did.

What is your favorite dish from Galicia? Tell us about it in the comments.

(This post was brought to you as a result of the #InGalicia blog trip, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Spain Tourism. Savored Journeys maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. A big thank you also to the OSalnes Tourism Board for organizing and arranging the trip.)

 

11 Foods You Must Try in Galicia Spain

34 thoughts on “11 Foods You Must Try in Galicia Spain

  1. Ryan Biddulph says:

    Hi Laura,

    I fell in love with Ecuadorian empanadas served by my friend’s mom. They moved from Ecuador to New Jersey decades ago but brought the old school empa recipe with them. But the Galician version looks so different. Just as tasty methinks with those lovely spices and served in a delightful package. Yummy. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Ryan

  2. Danik says:

    I really should have opened up my eyes on my only trip to Galicia in my life many moons ago and try some of the local food. I think I had Italian pasta and ice cream on my only day there. That Churrasco has got my mouth watering.

  3. Indrani says:

    This is such a different variety of dishes in Spain, other than usual paella and Spanish omelettes.. I have to get back to Spain soon to have these.

  4. Nancy says:

    Ugh, I’ve never been to Spain, and your post is a reminder of everything that I am missing out on. Interesting point on trying regional wine while you’re in the area – I don’t travel to places that have local wine but have duly noted that tip! I want to taste wine that flows like water!

  5. Jen Joslin says:

    The food alone has me wanting to get to Spain! So many of these dishes I had never heard of, and they all look amazing!! How cool to visit a mussel farm. That empanada pie looks delicious!

  6. Efthimis K. says:

    I’ve never been to Galicia but I love Spanish food in general. I am not a big fun of seafood but I think that cheese, wine and some chorizo would be ideal for my meal! The Tarta de Santiago sounds pretty yummy as well!

  7. Saakshi Maheshwari says:

    I never thought Spain to be this culinary rich! Glad to have across your post. I will be travelling to Spain soon and this post has got me sorted for food there 🙂

  8. Kirstie says:

    The food all over Spain is delightful, but Northern Spain is especially great! While I don’t eat seafood and therefore miss out on all of those specialties, I did eat very well when I was in Galicia.

  9. Trisha Velarmino says:

    I lived in Spain and I love Galicia! You make me miss one of my homes! This article just hit me more at heart more than stomach! I am drooling not just for the food but the Spain itself!

  10. Elena says:

    Churrasco brought so many tasty memories 🙂 Arguably, the best churrasco ever I ate in Uruguay. However, your picture made me hungry too 🙂

  11. Punita Malhotra says:

    Haven’t been to Galicia region, but I have been to Andalusia and Catalonia and your post reminds me of all the delicious food we sampled in this gorgeous country. Would love to go back and explore Galicia.

  12. maegan says:

    I am headed to Spain in August and look forward to trying some good food. I am allergic to shellfish and will have to be mindful of that but this all looks good!

  13. Kaila Yu says:

    I recently wrote a blog post about the top foods to try in Catalonia, its amazing how much the foods differ from the regions in Spain. The Pulpo a la Gallega sounds divine, I want to try it!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Hi Kaila. We’ve written about Catalan foods as well. Like Galicia, it is very rich in foods and unique products. Definitely one of the reasons I love Spain so much.

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