Cuisine of Asturias
Monkfish and tuna are two of the most popular fish with diners in this region, and both are presented in a variety of tempting ways. Hake is another favourite, especially when served in cider. However, if you have any liking at all for seafood, one treat you really must try is another dish that gets a big thumbs-up from the locals, the velvet swimcrab. The taste of its meat is quite simply magnificent, whether enjoyed just as it is with a salad, or incorporated into a selection of various soups and recipes. Whichever way you try the swimcrab, it's an experience you'll most likely want to repeat several times before departing the region.
But no matter how tempting and tasty the seafood, if there is one dish that provides visitors with the very essence of Asturias it is the renowned fabada - a white bean stew that is infinitely more delicious than you might at first imagine. The beans (fabes) are grown only in Asturias and harvested under strict local guidelines. While fabes are a complete, high quality food in their own right, traditional fabada ingredients also include ham, bacon and black pudding, although there are also more recently created variations which instead use chicken, hare, partridge or other game. So popular is fabada, you will find it on virtually every restaurant menu throughout the region.
Asturian cheeses are many and extremely varied. The eastern part of the region particularly can claim probably the greatest concentration of homemade cheeses anywhere in Europe. Cow, sheep and goat's milk are all widely used, sometimes on their own, sometimes in combination with each other. The best known regional cheese is almost certainly Cabrales, which is produced by a limited number of family run dairies situated exclusively in the village of the same name, plus three other small communities in the nearby vicinity. While this strong flavoured blue vein cheese is often enjoyed in its natural state so to speak, it is also highly prized as a base for sauces, and is used as an accompaniment for many haute cuisine dishes.
Just like their neighbours in Cantabria, Asturians also have a sweet tooth. Consequently most consider a dessert to be an essential part of their meal. High on their list of likes are rice pudding with a caramelized sugar topping, frisuelos (a type of crepe), and les casadielles (sweet filled pastries). Without question the favoured, indeed almost compulsorary drink throughout the region is the cider made from locally grown apples.