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From the sea, to your plate

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(Votes count 191)

(Rating average 3,18)

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“Gijón, Northern Spain with Zest”. The theme chosen to define the home town of Jovellanos was not coincidental and this ‘condiment’ and the city seem to have always gone hand in hand:the zest for life, the zest that the locals possess and, naturally, the zest of its cuisine whose diversity makes it a reference point in Asturias, alongside the traditional fabada (bean and pork meats stew), pote Asturiano (bean, potato, greens and pork meats stew), cachopos (veal cordon bleu) and the countless cheeses the Principality has to offer.

That’s why Gijón cuisine tastes of the sea, of salt, the salt of the Bay of Biscay, always on the horizon, which fills the salvers and plates with the finest fish and seafood. Chicharrinos (young Atlantic horse mackerel), bocartinos (young anchovies), parrochines (young sardines) or panchinos (young sea bream) are some of the most common species usually enjoyed accompanied by a few bottles of cider in the many cider taverns that dot the city.

These fish are often eaten as 'tapas', while others are the kings of the oven and of 'table' dishes, such aspixín (monkfish), besugo (sea bream) and chopa (black bream). Although some, such as merluza (hake) and monkfish itself, can also be cut into small pieces and batter-fried.Being so fresh, they do not require much seasoning to enjoy their taste and texture. The proximity of the Bay of Biscay ensures the privilege of the produce coming straight from the sea onto the plate.

Two species of scarce though exquisite rock dwellers, namely tiñosu (red scorpionfish) and golondru (tub gurnard), are the basis of two casserole specialties cooked with potatoes. Garlic, onion, olive oil, parsley, paprika, white wine and little else is used to season fish whose flavour stands out on its own. Rock dwellers also are the splendid salmonetes (striped red mullet) which are caught in the area, although these are only prepared in the most logical way: fried or griddled.

Other fish dishes to have come out of Gijón’s kitchens are monkfish with lobster, conger eel with peas, splendid alfonsino in sea urchin sauce, black bream in cider sauce, seafood stuffed megrim and, in the summer, bonito belly.

Calamares de potera, i.e. squid caught with just a hook and line in the most artisanal way possible, are also typical in the summer. They are squid in their reduced version, as soft as butter to the sensesand are usually fried in strips and rings. You can also find chipirones afogaos, literally "drowned" squid due to being cooked with the lid on, a delicious and tender way of braising them without their ink that is very typical in Gijon.

Staying in the same family, we come to a dish that is unequivocally from Gijón: pulpín con patatines, a slow-simmered stew that brings out all the succulence of small, rocky-shore octopus accompanied by diced potatoes. Some establishments offer this dish in their set menus on a specific day of the week, usually Wednesday, faithful to tradition. Other no less tasty variants of this dish are pulpu con berces (octopus with cabbage) and pulpu amariscao (octopus done in a seafood sauce).

Like the rest of the Asturian coast, Gijón has long been a shellfish stronghold: clawed and spiny lobsters, gooseneck barnacles, clams, shrimp, velvet swimming crabs, crayfish, spider and brown crabsmake your mouth water and abound in stock tanks, fishmongers, counters, bars and tables. However, there are two shellfish especially identified with the town of Jovellanos for their taste and popularity: llámpares (limpets) and, above all, oricios (sea urchins). The latter constitute one of the greatest gastronomic pleasures offered by the sea and used to be sold by the shovelful in Gijón, where they are paid due tribute: alone, in stews, with rice, and so on. The result of this collective passion is the honour of Gijón being the first place where they were canned and of creating a local recipe in the form of sea urchin roe loaf.

Last, but not least, is the pastry offering, where the cakes called Charlota and Tarta Gijonesa reign alongside frixuelos (crepes), casadielles (walnut-filled pastries) and arroz con leche (rice pudding).

GASTRO EVENTS

January: Gastro event devoted to Sea Urchins.

February: Crepes and the Antroxu (Carnival) gastro event.

March: Gastro event devoted to Stews.

April: Gastro event devoted to Octopus.

May: Gastro event devoted to Market Garden Produce.

June: Gastro event devoted to the Sea.

July: Gastro event devoted to Bonito.

September: Gastro events devoted to Rice and Free-range Chicken.

October: Cider in Gijón.Gastro event devoted to Fabes (white beans) and Wild Mushrooms.

November: Gastro event devoted to Tripe.

December: Festival of Traditional Gijón Cuisine.

Palabras clave Turismo, Gastronómico