Revel in the exciting Spanish flavours in these dishes and stews from the coastal towns and mountain regions of the country's beautiful north...
Pulpo a la Gallega / Polbo á Feira
Galicia is known for its love of octopus in cooking, in fact, it has dedicated restaurants called pulperías that specialise in octopus dishes and you'll find some are family-run affairs that have been owned for generations. Galician cuisine's most famous dish, pulpo a la gallega (in Spanish) or polbo á feira (in Galician) can be found at restaurants and pulperìas across the region and especially along Galicia's stunning coastline.
The octopus is boiled in a copper cauldron until tender, then the tentacles are chopped up with scissors and sprinkled with olive oil, sea salt and paprika. A simple but tasty no-fuss dish, it's usually served with sliced boiled potatoes, called cachelons, and bread. Enjoy it with a glass of red wine like the locals do.
Nobody does bar food quite like the Basques do.You might be familiar with tapas but the Basque Country has its own unique version called pintxos. Usually a variety of toppings skewered to a piece of bread (pintxos is the Basque word for 'stick'), Basque pintxos are the highlight of its many bars. San Sebastian is known as the capital of pintxos but you'll find them in bars all across the region.
With traditional pintxos and increasingly gourmet versions, Basque bars compete for awards for the best pintxos so they really do pride themselves on it. Take a tour of several bars wherever you're staying and try a couple of different pintxos in each one. You'll find locals doing exactly the same thing before heading home or to a restaurant for their evening meal. Although with so many delicious pintxos on offer, you might be too full for a meal afterwards!
A classic Basque meal that originated on board the many tuna fishing boats that set sail from the region's harbours. Made with tuna, potatoes, onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes, the secret ingredient in this traditional fish stew is the choricero peppers. Traditionally cooked in a marmita pot (a type of metal pot with lid) which gives the stew its name, it's a dish you'll see on many menus in the north of Spain.
Asturias' signature dish, often just known as fabada, is a stew made with large white beans (usually faba beans), bacon or ham hock, morcilla black pudding and chorizo sausage. Cooked in an earthenware casserole dish and often seasoned with saffron, this warming stew is generally served with more pieces of bacon, chorizo and morcilla on the side.
From the mountains of the Picos de Europa, comes a hearty stew that really does taste of the flavours of the mountains. Cocido montañes is rustic fare designed to fill you up on a cold day in the mountain air. White beans are the base of the stew in a stock made with onions, garlic and paprika, and then there's a wealth of pork products to add meaty flavour - bacon, chorizo, morcilla, ham, pork ribs and even pig's ear feature in a truly traditional bowl of cocido montañes! Soak up the juices with some crusty bread.
A favourite across Spain...
You'll find paella in restaurants all across the country but it's originally from Valencia. And this is where people go wrong when they think traditional paella means seafood. Paella Valenciana is the traditional dish for which the city of Valencia is renowned and it is made with chicken and rabbit (definitely no seafood!). You'll probably encounter it northern Spain filled with the delicious shrimps, mussels, clams, scallops and more that are caught all along the coastlines of the north.
What's your favourite dish from Northern Spain? Let us know in the comments below.