Galicia’s coast extends from the north of Portugal to the Cantabrian Sea and it has traditionally been a reference for the best seafood in Spain. According to experts, Galicia‘s seafood has an exceptional quality and flavor due to the Northeast winds that blow on the Atlantic coast which causes upwelling of cool, nutrient-rich subsurface water. Great quantities of fresh fish and seafood arrive daily at the fishing harbors along Galicia’s coast to then be delivered to markets and restaurants.
Now join me on a countdown of the best seafood!
Centollo, The King of Crabs
Centollo is a spider crab, which can be pricey but the taste more than makes up for it. The crab is prepared by boiling it and then opening the body’s shell which contains a tasty, creamy soup. The legs are eaten, by cracking them open and sucking the flesh although some people prefer to add the flesh into the soup. Grab any of the multiple breads made in Galicia, dip it in the soup and get ready for a flavor explosion!
Even though many cultures avoid eating octopus, here in Spain it is a signature seafood dish, particularly the one from Galicia. The recipe is simple: It is recommended to buy fresh octopus but freeze it for a couple of days so it’s tender when you prepare it. Then you just boil it for 45 minutes to an hour depending on the size. Then let it cool and slice the octopus legs with scissors (about 1/2 of an inch wide slices), cut the head into small pieces. Serve on a wooden platter, add sea salt, season with paprika and olive oil. Simple but delicious!
Galicia is one of the largest producers in the world (80%). Mussels are harvested in wooden cultivation platforms/rafts (known as bateas), from which ropes, descending into the sea, hang. Preparation is as easy as steaming them for 5-6 minutes until they open and just eat them right away!. There are many other ways to cook them but the best, in my opinion, is preparing a light sauce with olive oil, garlic, onion, white wine and let them steam in the sauce until open.
As well as mussels, oysters are grown on the bateas. Galicia produces annually two types of oyster: flat or European, and Pacific, a species registered by Galician producers under the name “curly oyster”. The season for wild oysters comprises the months of December, January and February; farmed oysters are available all year. Unlike in the US, where oysters are accompanied by a red spicy sauce, in Galicia they are served fresh with just a slice of lemon.
This delicacy is actually quite expensive, often 100 to even 300 euros a kilo. The reason behind these prices is both because of their unique natural flavor, strongly evoking the sea, and their difficulty to harvest, firmly cemented onto rocks that are dangerously beaten by the ocean. This is a hard and risky profession: jumping among the rocks, climbing into and out of a boat, the professionals travel the part of the coast to collect barnacles. It is easy to slip or for a wave higher than expected to make things difficult. Barnacles are boiled for only a few seconds in salt water with a bay leaf. Now you understand why something so simple can be so expensive!