So diverse is Spanish cuisine that, with a little ingenuity, you could devise a foodie alphabet running from albondigas to zarzuela. Traditionally breakfast in Spain was a light affair of coffee and bread rolls or chocolate thick enough to support a spoon served with churros, delicious doughnut strips. A hearty main meal was eaten in the middle of the day, leaving the evening free to tuck into tapas. Today, people like to mix things up and you’ll find most Spanish restaurants have both tapas and main dishes on the menu. One thing you can be sure of, however, is that dishes are cooked using a wide range of fresh regional produce as well as staple ingredients of potatoes, rice, eggs and tomatoes.
The development of Spanish cuisine
Spain lies between Europe and Africa and has seen different waves of settlers over the centuries. Each played their part in developing the Spanish cuisine of today. The Greeks, Celts and Romans introduced olive trees along with the process of making olive oil, grapes for wine and the idea of placing pastry around meat or fish to make pies and pasties. From the sunny climes of North Africa, the Moors brought honey, almonds and citrus fruit as well as salad ingredients and spices such as saffron and cumin. They also brought their passion for sticky sweet desserts.
Our top ten classic Spanish dishes
Before looking at a few dishes in detail (including albondigas and zarzuela!) we’ve put together a top ten list of Spanish classics that we love and that you can find in local restaurants. And, yes they’re in alphabetical order!
- Cochinillo asado
- Gambas al ajillo
- Huevos rotos
- Tortilla Espanola
- Tostada con tomate, aceite and jamon
Our three favourites
Let’s take a closer look at our three particular favourites.
- Albondigas: The name ‘albondigas’ comes from the Arabic ‘al-bunduq’ which translates literally as hazelnut. The hazelnut’s round shape gives its name to tasty small meatballs. They’re generally made from spicy pork and served in a rich tomato sauce as either a tapas or hearty main meal.
- Tortilla Espanola: Breakfast, lunch or evening tapas – this traditional dish made (for purists) of only eggs and potatoes always fills a gap. Onion, chorizo and vegetables are often added to make it even more filling.
- Zarzuela: A favourite in coastal Catalunya, Zarzuela is a hearty stew of seafood, pork, tomatoes, peppers and almonds.
Some Spanish dishes you might not have heard off
While everyone is familiar with gazpacho, not everyone will know what salmorejo is despite its similarity. Salmorejo is typical of southern Spain and is based on tomatoes and bread which give it a bright orange colour and a thicker texture than gazpacho. Other overlooked dishes include:
- Papas Arrugadas with Mojo: A Canary Isles version of patatas bravas.
- Fideuadas: Hailing from Catalunya, this variation of paella uses local noodles instead of rice.
- Riojana patatas: This comfort food of potatoes and spicy chorizo goes well with a glass of rich red Rioja.
Spanish restaurants on foodpanda
If you’re ready to try some Spanish cuisine then foodpanda can bring you dishes from the best Spanish restaurants in Singapore. We recommend croquetas or tortilla from FOC Pim Pam, gazpacho Andaluz from Sobramesa or gambas al ajillo from El Tardeo. Buen provecho! If we’ve whetted your appetite for the cuisine of Europe, you might also enjoy exploring the food of Italy.