Spanish gastronomy is one of the richest and most varied in the world, although it seems somewhat pretentious to make that statement. But if today it is so famous, it must be for something, and the more I know the dishes of other regions, the more I fall in love with it. It is difficult to choose just one but I have to admit that in the north you eat wonderfully, as shown, for example, some of the best recipes of Cantabrian cuisine.
The gastronomy of Cantabria is intimately linked to its landscapes, with the fishing coast, the river basins, the mountains and valleys of pasiegos. Seafood cuisine is one of its hallmarks, without detracting from livestock products, spoon dishes, excellent vegetables and a large selection of dairy products. Its traditional sweets are also not far behind, in which butter plays a fundamental and delicious role.
The best recipes of Cantabrian cuisine
1. Clams a la marinera
One of my favorite dishes to start any menu, be it a party or an aperitif any day of the year. The title is somewhat imprecise because there are a thousand ways to prepare clams a la marinera, although surely none disappoint. In Cantabria, as in the entire north coast, they have high quality clams and they know how to cook them like no one else, without having to complicate the recipe too much.
I would say that Cantabrians usually opt for a green type sauce, which does not lack a touch of white wine, garlic and parsley, also a little cayenne. I also like the variant with paprika or even tomato, which we leave you complete below, but in any case, as always, you have to look for good quality raw material.
Let the clams soak for at least 2 hours, in a saucepan with plenty of water and a spoon of coarse salt so that the clams release any sand they may have. It is convenient to change the water every half hour. Next, we open the clams, steaming them in a saucepan with a glass of water, a teaspoon of coarse salt and a bay leaf. As they open, we remove the clams and reserve them. If you don’t have a steaming utensil, you can use a saucepan with a lid and a large strainer that can hold the clams. In a frying pan we make the sauce, simmering the half onion, the chilli and the very minced garlic clove in extra virgin olive oil, until they practically fall apart. Add the paprika and flour and stir quickly making a paste or roux. Next, we add the sherry wine and stir until its alcohol evaporates. Next we add the fried tomato and the water from having opened the clams that we will have previously strained. We taste and rectify the salt. We let it reduce for about 5 minutes and put the clams that we had opened and reserved in the pan. We leave another 3 or 4 minutes until the sauce reaches the point of thickness that we like and we turn off the heat.
Link | Clams a la marinera
2. Squid stalks
The calamari a la romana, or battered and fried squid, are a classic of the tapas offer anywhere in the country. But in Cantabria we will find especially the famous squid, juicy inside and with that crunchy and golden batter so addictive. Are especially typical in the bars of Santander, in which each house has its own touch and its own secret.
To recreate this snack at home we can simply rely on our favorite recipe for battered squash, cutting them into strips instead of rings. The secret is to use good quality ingredients, not too refined flour, good oil and make sure that the stalks are very cold before frying.
Link | Rabas in the style of Cantabria
If you visit Cantabria, you have to eat anchovies. I like them a lot to use in all kinds of dishes, but I have to admit that when you invest in good quality Cantabrian anchovies, the difference is abysmal. Simply with an olive oil dressing and accompanied by good bread, bread is a pure delicacy at any time.
In Cantabria there is a long tradition of fishing and processing the bocartes, the anchovy that reaches the coasts of the region in spring. They are getting ready smoked, salted or in olive oil, and they can give a lot of play in all kinds of more or less creative recipes. I love them in a salad with seasonal tomatoes and maybe some roasted red peppers.
Link | Tomato carpaccio with anchovies
4. Caricos stews or red beans from Cantabria
When I travel through Spain I like to know the typical legumes of each area, and if I find an old-fashioned shop where specialties are sold in bulk, they are a perfect souvenir. In Cantabria I discovered the Caricos, a delicious small caliber round shaped red kidney bean That winter meals made us very happy.
The stewed caricos can be prepared in many ways, but I wanted to make a widowed dish to give them all the prominence. Of course, perhaps the most traditional thing is to cook them with chorizo and a little more meat, such as marinated ribs or ham. In any case, will delight lovers of spooning. They are very tender, tasty beans with thin and smooth skin.
Link | Caricos stews or red beans from Cantabria. Recipe in express pot
This dish has everything to please me: a close link to its land and traditions, a seafaring soul, a consistent spoon broth and a sonorous name with character. If you like marmkitako you cannot miss the Cantabrian version of the guisto of blue fish and potatoes par excellence. Sorropotún is typically cooked in San Vicente de la Barquera without tomato or chorizo pepper, the pre-poaching of the onion being key to darken the broth.
Link | Bonito sorropotún recipe
6. Mountain stew
What would our traditional gastronomy be without the typical stew recipe of each region? Whoever says cooked says stew, bean stew, pot or stew, in the end we are talking about a pot in which legumes are cooked with other typical ingredients of each area, usually with vegetables, meats and sausages. Above all, that it nourishes. In Cantabria we have two traditional stews, the mountaineer being the most curious to prepare with white beans.
Link to the recipe | Mountain stew
7. Scorpion pudding
Also known as fish cake, pudding or pudding, cabracho pudding is very typical of Cantabrian cuisine, although it can also be found in other regions. It has always been traditional for Christmas tables but nowadays it is worth preparing it at any time of the year, especially when the heat is most pressing.
The most typical thing is to serve it with mayonnaise, pink sauce or homemade fried tomato, once rested in the fridge and accompanied by toast bread. The truth is that it is not complicated to prepare and the flavor and texture tend to be liked by everyone, it is very versatile and always looks good on the table, if we have a little art in the plating.
Link | Puding or scorpion pudding. Family recipe to look great
8. Lebaniego stew
And here is the other great Cantabrian spoon dish, the typical stew of Liébana although increasingly extended to other regions. This dish is prepared with small chickpeas from the area, cabbage and potatoes, adding the meat of the farm animals of each house. Today it is normally prepared with slaughter copango, beef and the traditional filling, based on bread crumbs with milk, egg, chorizo and parsley.
Photo and recipe of lebaniego stew | Cantabrian Posture
9. Sobaos pasiegos
I remember that my mother sometimes bought us some sobaos for a snack, but oh, how innocent I was to think that that was a real sobao. Who has not tried the authentic sobaos pasiegos, prepared with local butter following the traditional recipe, you do not know what you are missing. The aroma of pure butter and that juicy golden crumb is incredible, irresistible. It is one of those traditional sweets that show that you don’t need creams, frostings or flourishes to be pure delight.
Link | Sobaos pasiegos recipe
10. Quesada pasiega
Another succulent example of the Cantabrian cattle tradition and its excellent dairy products. At home it can be difficult to recreate the most typical recipe for authentic quesada, because we do not have fresh Pasiego cheese, but we do we can buy fresh milk and cut it with rennet, or use quality fresh cheese. It will not be exactly the same, but it will come out a delicious quesada. Of course, when you have the opportunity to try a traditional one, do not hesitate.
Link | Traditional pasiega quesada. Recipe
11. Puff pastry
I knew that in Cantabria you can find puff pastry sweets in almost every pastry shop in any town, but I was not prepared to be fascinated in that way. What difference is there between a mediocre puff pastry and a quality artisan one! A simple bite of puff pastry, without anything else, can be an exquisite bite, with that real butter flavor and very thin airy crunchy layers.
It is worth trying any specialty, from the ties of Unquera to the polkas, passing through the ties or the puff pastry and almonds cake of Torrelavega. To remember those sweets at home we can try to make our homemade puff pastry, or invest in a good quality one and prepare a dessert individually, with a touch of almonds in the coating or in the filling.
Link | Puff pastry stars filled with almond cream
We are sure that we are missing many traditional recipes of Cantabrian cuisine which is definitely worth trying. What dishes would you complete this list with? What is your favorite recipe or product from the gastronomy of Cantabria?
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