Spain has always been one of the world’s culinary hotspots in my opinion. When visiting Spain, you must try all the country’s delectable cuisine. The best part is that each distinct region of Spain has its own unique menu of delectable foods.
Galicia, the northwestmost area of Spain, is bounded by Portugal, the Atlantic Ocean, Asturias, and Castilla y León. Galician cuisine is distinct, with dishes like cooked octopus, fresh seafood platters, and robust stews rather than paella and gazpacho.
The Galicians, also known as Gallegos, have a long history of taking pleasure in their culinary prowess, and as a result, some of the most well-known dishes in all of Spain originate in this area.
Much of Galicia’s famous seafood and shellfish is carried every day to some of the finest restaurants in Spain and Europe.
You won’t go hungry in Galicia, as the serving sizes are roughly double the rest of Spain. Check out some of these recommendations for authentic Galician cuisine.
11 Best Dishes From Galicia You Should Try
- pulpo a la gallega or boiling octopus
- Pimientos De Padrón or Padron Peppers
- Tarta De Santiago or Santiago Cake
- Queixo De Tetilla or Tetilla Cheese
- Caldo Gallego
- Mariscada Gallega
- Chuletón De Ternera or Galician beef
- Cocido Gallego or Galician Stew
- Goose Barnacles or Percebes
- Merluza a la Gallega or Hake
1. pulpo a la gallega
Pulpo a la Gallega is a well-known cuisine from the area; it is a boiling octopus that has been dusted with salt, paprika, and olive oil.
Octopus is a traditional Galician delicacy that, when prepared properly, literally melts in your tongue, despite the fact that it may sound a little “out there” to visitors.
This incredibly straightforward dish is frequently offered in markets around Galicia, but it is also present in many tapas bars. The octopus is boiled until it is soft, after which the tentacles are cut into discs, drizzled with olive oil, and dusted with pimentón (smoked paprika). This meal couldn’t be simpler or more delectable when served over a bed of nicely cooked potatoes.
It must be just right; it cannot be either too hard or too mushy. Don’t be deceived by the dish’s apparent simplicity; finding a quality “pulpeiro” (a cook who specializes in octopus) is not that simple.
2. Pimientos De Padrón or Padron Peppers
These are little, tasty green peppers from the Padron town in the Galician province of A Coruna.
Padron peppers come in red and yellowish-green types in addition to the green variety, which is often the one that gets fried. Pimientos de padrón are tiny green peppers that are fried and seasoned with sea salt; they are typically eaten as a tapas platter.
Although they can be found on practically every tapas menu in Spain, they are actually from the Padrón region of Galicia, which is southwest of Santiago de Compostela. Every August, a celebration is held in honor of these tiny vegetables since the locals are so proud of them.
Sharing these peppers with others is enjoyable. You can’t know unless you try which one is hot or moderate until you give it a try. Simple but delicious, the peppers are cooked whole and dusted with rock salt.
They are primarily little, sweet peppers, but every so often, you’ll get one that’s as spicy as a chili. Many people have many hypotheses on how to predict which foods will be spicy: are the ones with the pointed ends? Would the smaller ones be involved? A larger pepper, perhaps? Nobody really knows, but that only adds to the pleasure.
Galicians love empanadas and will eat anything in them. The most popular of these savory pies or pastries are, of course, those filled with seafood or fish. They come in a variety of shapes and fillings.
Some of the most popular empanada fillings include cod (bacalao/bacallao), mussels (mejillones/mexillóns), and tuna (bonito). Your empanada’s quality will vary according to the bakers, the kind of pastry, and the filling’s quality, but they are all delectable.
This common dish in Galicia is thought to have some distant resemblance to the Indian samosa that traders brought back from the Portuguese colony of Goa.
Unexpectedly, although they are called empanadas here, filled pies may be traced back to Galicia. The word is derived from the verb “coat with crumbs.”
4. Tarta De Santiago or Santiago Cake
The tarta de Santiago, a sort of sponge cake prepared with ground almonds and dusted with powdered sugar, is one of the most well-known Galician sweets. On top of it is typically a Santiago cross. Of course, Santiago de Compostela is where you can find the best.
Without devouring a sizable portion of this mouthwatering dessert, no trip to Galicia would be complete.
Shortcrust pastry, eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and ground almonds are the ingredients of the tarta de Santiago, which bears St. James’s name.
The traditional Santiago’s cross-adorned almond cake is the ideal sweet treat to enjoy with coffee or after a meal. Almond tarts are popular in many other Galician towns, albeit each has its own distinctive variations.
5. Queixo De Tetilla or Tetilla Cheese
Galician cheese, which consists primarily of softer, mildly-cured cow cheeses and is typically served as a dessert with quince jelly, may not be well known to cheese lovers.
Due to its pointed shape, Galicia’s most distinctive and distinctive-looking cheese is known as “queixo de tetilla,” which translates to “little breast.” You will pass through Arza, known for its pointy “tetilla” cheese, as you travel along the Camino Frances toward Santiago.
Queixo de Tetilla, a cheese with a dome shape, gets its name from the way it resembles a tiny breast. This Galician staple’s mild flavor and creamy texture make it an excellent partner for Spanish ham, wine, and olives.
6. Caldo Gallego
This traditional dish from Galicia is a firm favorite among residents in the colder months and is frequently served as a beginning in a winter set menu.
Caldo Gallego is a hearty stew from Galicia that includes a variety of ingredients, such as cabbage, potatoes, white beans, meat, sausage, and chorizo. It will keep you warm during the chilly, rainy winters in Galicia.
Vegetarians, take care! With its cabbage, green leaves, and beans, caldo galego (Galician broth) can seem like a harmless dish for vegetarians; however, it frequently contains pork grease and other types of pork flesh. Every Galician home prepares caldo, a substantial, homey food, especially during the winter.
7. Mariscada Gallega
Galicia’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean explains why the region is well-known for its delicious seafood. Try the Mariscada Gallega if you want to sample some of the best flavors in one dish.
A Mariscada Gallega usually consists of a variety of freshly obtained or harvested seafood, such as crabs, razor clams, oysters, goose barnacles, mussels, clams, and lobster; however, any fresh shellfish may be included.
Of course, its unrivaled quality and freshness are the key to its unwavering success.
One of the most well-known dishes in Spain is made using seafood from the clear, fertile sea that surrounds Galicia’s coast and its rivers (Rias Baixas).
8. Chuletón De Ternera or Galician beef
The greatest beef in Spain comes from Galicia. The rubia gallega, or Galician blond, breed of cows is famed for producing this luscious meat. How do I place my order for this excellent beef? Grilled or a la plancha, then sprinkled with a little rock salt.
The ‘Ternera Gallega’ or Galician beef is also well-liked throughout the rest of Spain. You can always choose beef if you don’t like sea life.
9. Cocido Gallego or Galician Stew
One of the most well-liked wintertime foods among all Galicians is, without a doubt, Galician stew. The various pig parts—including the ears, ribs, and shoulder—along with bacon, chorizo, and beans are all used in this stew. Vegetables like collard greens, cabbage, and turnip tops are always served with it.
With its hearty ingredients like pork shoulder, chorizo, chickpeas, pig’s ears, cabbage, and turnip tops, this traditional stew is a surefire winter warmer. Everything should be perfectly boiled before being served with a pinch of smoked paprika and a drizzle of olive oil.
The stock is served first, followed by a tray with meat and another with vegetables, both of which are served individually.
10. Goose Barnacles or Percebes
These surprising-looking creatures are reportedly a very common food in Galicia. Goose-neck barnacles, also known as percebes, are prepared easily. For around 30 minutes, they are cooked with salt and lorel leaf.
The flavor is strong and tastes like you’re eating the Atlantic sea but in a good way. These odd little animals are a popular delicacy throughout Spain.
Galicia’s rugged coast is home to Goose Neck Barnacles, which are famously picked by fishermen who risk their lives and dangle from cliff faces and rocky outcrops to get to them.
11. Merluza a la Gallega or Hake
Hake, or merluza in Spanish, is perhaps the most enjoyed fish in Northern Spain and is present across Galicia. This fish is low in fat and lean, which is convenient because it is frequently given in large servings. The dish with the most history is merluza a la gallega. Hake is simply boiled with potatoes and served with a pepper and garlic sauce. It’s straightforward but delicious.
The recipe for this dish calls for Galician hake, potatoes, onions, garlic, bay leaves, smoked paprika from La Vera, fish stock, and salt. It is prepared by cooking the potatoes in the stock along with the onion, garlic, and bay leaves. After that, the hake is added and cooked.
Separately, a garlic sauce is prepared. The garlic is fried in oil for this purpose. The paprika is applied once they are browned. The hake is arranged on top of a bed of potatoes, and then the garlic sauce is sprinkled on top.
As you can see, Galicia offers a wide variety of delicious and distinctive meals. Without a doubt, it is one of Spain’s top culinary regions. I sincerely hope you discover each of these dishes while you’re there visiting and that you appreciate them as much as we did.