Skip to main content

Food in the Spanish northern coast

Not such a large stretch of coast but with very different cooking styles as you move along.

Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country have much to offer, from simple country recipes to the sophisticated dishes from the new cuisine in the Basque Country, for many, the cradle for modern Spanish cuisine.

Basque Country

Basque people have always been passionate about food. There is an old tradition of gastronomic clubs, only for men until recently. It is no surprise the Basque country has been the engine to pull the Spanish nueva cocina ahead, and they continue to innovate at breakneck speed.

Classic Basque dishes tend to be simple and satisfying, usually including the highest-quality cod, perfect fish and shellfish, wild mushrooms, and the crispest vegetables, befitting their past as fishermen, shepherds and farmers.

Basque traditional specialties feature an extraordinary number of fish dishes. Think of bacalao al pil pil (cod with garlic and an olive oil emulsion), bacalao a la vizcaina (cod in red pepper sauce), marmitako (tuna and potato stew), merluza en salsa verde (hake in green sauce), chipirones encebollados (baby squid in onion sauce) or chipirones en su tinta (baby squid cooked in their own ink –actually, octopus ink), and besugo a la espalda (grilled sea-bream with garlic and chili);  an impressive list, without having mentioned yet anything else but fish and seafood. Pintxos are the Basque version of tapas and something everyone should try if visiting the country.

Asturias and Cantabria

Laying between the sea and the high Picos de Europa mountains, their cuisine is rich in fish dishes and hearty bean and pork stews. Cantabria is famous for anchovies and sardines, tuna, hake, clams, and crabs of several shapes and sizes.

Visitors will find fabada (bean and sausage casserole, starring fabes, the local large white beans), pote asturiano (a stew of cabbage and smoked meats), chicken, chorizo or fish cooked in cider, fabes con almejas (the famous white beans and clams), almejas a la marinera (clams in a white wine sauce, fishermen style), arroz a la marinera (fish, seafood and rice dish), arroz con leche (rice pudding), torta pasiega (cheesecake)... and in Cantabria, close to the coast, Cabracho pudding, a large fish cake prepared with a kind of fish difficult to find anywhere else, and never with the same quality.


Fish and seafood are the mainstay in Galicia, more seafood than fish. The seafood is usually of such good quality that it barely needs more than grilling or steaming to become a five star meal. Percebes (goose barnacles) are as delicious as they are expensive, but there are also mussels, clams, scallops, small, medium, or large crabs, large shrimp, lobster, octopus, hake, and turbot, just to mention a few. One of the few green regions in spain, Galicia can also count with excellent beef, dairy products and eggs; cachelos (potatoes) and grelos (turnip greens) are the most famed farm products.

Traditional specialties found in the menu include mariscadas (assorted seafood), seafood and meat empanadas(thick pies); pulpo a feira (paprika-dusted boiled octopus), caldo gallego (a hearty white bean and smoked meat soup), lacon con grelos (cured ham with turnip greens, and tarta de Santiago (almond cake).

North east interior
Aragon, La Rioja and Navarra.

Central plains
Castile-Leon, La Mancha, Extremadura

Catalonia, Levante

The south

The Islands
Baleares, Canarias