What are the Primary Flavors in Spanish Cooking?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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Spanish cooking is filled with traditional favorites that are comprised of flavorful spices and decadent meats, fish, and cheeses. Many of the flavors are unique to Spain, but some are adopted from the surrounding countries, often centuries ago. Some flavors are more popular in certain regions of Spain than others, usually depending on the primary source of food in a given region. For example, the coastal areas focus more on fish and the agricultural areas focus more on vegetables.

The Central Plains of Spain is overwhelmingly dominated by lentils, beans, chickpeas, garlic, saffron and paprika. Spanish dried lentils, beans, and chickpeas are amazingly creamy and flavorful after they are cooked. Smoked paprika has a special color and an unforgettable flavor - it can be sweet, bittersweet, or hot. Saffron is expensive; but can be worth the price, as a little goes a long way. Saffron comes in threads that can be pulverized into a powder.

Spanish cooking based off of the ingredients from the Northern Coast of Spain focuses on fish, cheese, vegetables. The dishes are often hearty and very straightforward. Sometimes smoked pork and anchovies are used. Manchego cheese, made from the milk of the Manchego sheep, reigns supreme in Spanish cooking. It can be found at most upscale supermarkets.


Anchovies are a kind of fish that are usually cured in salt. However, if they are too salty, they can be soaked in milk for about half an hour, then rinsed and soaked in olive oil. Milder, white Spanish anchovies are cured in vinegar instead of salt – they too have a remarkable taste. Spanish anchovies can be found at upscale supermarkets in the United States.

Spanish cooking from the Mediterranean region is a romantic blend of flavors. The food from this area blends Arabic, Italian, and Roman flavors. Dishes range from robust seafood casseroles with honey, dried fruit and sometimes chocolate to filling stews that have a sweet flair to them. Rice dishes are quite popular, paella being one of the most famous. Almonds, peppers, and salted tuna are frequently used, as well.

Marcona almonds, grown along the coast of Spain, are used in everything from desserts to tapas. They are famous for their flat, round shape and crunchy texture. These almonds have an extreme nuttiness that people find irresistible. Bell peppers should be fleshy and colored deeply. In fact, the redder the pepper is, the sweeter the flavor. Spanish canned tuna is delicate and flaky – much better in quality than common canned tuna.

Spanish cooking in the South of Spain encompasses Spanish cured hams, olive oil, and spices, such as cumin. Sherry is also commonly used. Bottle sherry can be fino – dry and delicate. It can also have a salty tang, a sweet flavor, or even a creamy texture. The type of grapes, where the grapes were grown, and the sherry-making process all factor into the flavor of the sherry.


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Post 3

One thing that I really like about this article is how it not only differentiates between the different types of Spanish cooking, but even more so it gives the distinction of the kinds of cooking ingredients that are used on different coasts. In my opinion, this is rather unique in a way, and it helps to give the term "Spanish cooking" a lot more meaning.

After all, food has a lot of variety and more than often, the term can be so ambiguous, that one would need to specify what exactly they're talking about.

Using one example, what if someone was to use the term "Chinese cooking"? Obviously, that can mean a lot of things, and they'd need

to specify what they're talking about.

On a final note, from reading the article, my favorite type of Spanish cooking that's described is from the Mediterranean region. I love how it speaks to many different cultures. In this case, I'm referring to the Arabic, Italian and Roman flavors.

All in all, in the realm of Spanish cooking, not only is there always something to look forward to, but even more so, there's always something for everyone to enjoy. This article is a great read.

Post 2

However, on the other hand, even some of the more authentic restaurants tend to not use the natural ingredients, at least based upon my experience.

All in all, what I got from reading this article is that more than often, if you want to get a taste of some international cuisine, then for the most part, it's best to visit that country itself and see what their is to offer.

Does anyone else agree with me? I hope I'm not discouraging anyone with this mindset, but it's definitely something to take into consideration.

After all, let's look at it this way. When it comes to "American" food, for the most part, you won't find it as

easily in other countries. The best way to try it out on a daily basis would be visit America, and see for yourself.

I mean for example, would you really find Buffalo Wings (which originated in Buffalo, New York) in places like China and Japan? Definitely not.

Post 1

On another note, while the article doesn't bring this up, one thing that I've always found interesting about Spanish food and dishes is how Americanized they can become. Using two example, first let's take a look at Taco Bell.

Even though many Americans love it, myself included, on the other hand, what some people fail to realize is that it's not even true Mexican food, if that makes sense.

How does this relate to the article? Well, one thing to note is that in pseudo Spanish cooking, many of the traditional flavors aren't even used. If you want to see a good comparison, do a taste test between Taco Bell and Chipotle.

Overall, you'll definitely see

a big difference. More in relation to the article though, one thing I really appreciate about it is how it gives a very good breakdown of what exactly is in Spanish cooking.

I mean after all, no matter what it is that we're eating, sometimes we tend to forget the time and care that goes into what's being made. I don't know about you, but reading this article has given me a new appreciation of Spanish dishes. Anyone else?

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