The seafood that Asturias offers are varied and appetizing in all cases. Most occasions are cooked in their natural state, they are cooked in sea water, as it commands the culinary essence of a dish that hardly needs any seasoning. The barnacles, the lobster, the spider crab, the lobster, the ñocla or noca, bugre or sea steer, the andarica or nécora, the humble periwinkles, the llampares or limpets, oricios or sea urchins they usually taste in the winches of an almost endless route, from the western towns to the most oriental ones of the Principality.
Its consumption is surrounded by popular heat and sociability, accompanied with cider, fundamentally They can also be tasted in a more sophisticated way, such as creams, patés or as a base for succulent sauces or soups in a restaurant with a certain dessert designed for the most demanding gourmets in the forms.
Before eating, however, the proper work of the shellfish, human activity that always precedes gastronomy. Some of the catches, like that of the barnacle, would deserve chapter to part, because the risk and the shortage grant to this dish, or tapa, more gastronomic merit if it fits. In this case it is a task that technically has the same weapons as in the past, especially for the so-called «Foot walkers», which, unlike those that approach the coast by boat, have to walk in balance on the high coast and down at the foot of it following the natural footprints that the sea and wind have opened in the rock. Without the slightest sensation of vertigo, they wait for the low tide and they slide by the ropes until the llancar, the area where the sea beats, a space that can reach three meters in length and where marine flora and pineapples of barnacles abound.
Where it does not form insurmountable beaches or cliffs, the rugged and cobbled coast of the region dominates everywhere. They are authentic natural museums. The food cycle of the pedreros or pedrales is like a wheel that turns and the man is at the end of the chain. Llámpares, periwinkles, arcinos (oricios), barnacles, shrimps, cámbaros, andariques, cuttlefish, barbadas, congrios, xulies, goats, sea bass and, and a little further from the coast, lobsters and spider crabs.
An example of adaptation to the environment is that of lamps. In spite of its stony immobility -for it always lets itself be seen holding the rocks with vigor-, it deceives. This mollusc moves although it is difficult to see. He is a grandfather of the snails, he moves in a similar way to these; the only thing that happens is that, in his persistent attempt to be true to his style, he continues to breathe through gills and has not yet surfaced. Its shell is flat and rudimentary and therefore more ancestral, almost a legend. The feeling of "threat" barely knows her. But of course, trust has always been the first enemy of living organisms, and a man appears - preferably with license for this type of fishing - and the lamp, confused and impotent before the body to body, contemplates how his soul rock is left in the distance forever. The sociology of any habitat also extends to the popular llamparadas. Numerous coastal towns render their particular gastronomic tribute every year to one of the tastiest and most abundant mollusks of its coast. Kilograms and kilograms of "llámpares" are cooked with care, as tradition dictates and as the orality of the oldest of the place gathers. They say that this dish served to reinforce the diet in the difficult times, the postwar period that some knew. And that we do not have chroniclers to explain in all its "sign" dimension the concheros left by the Paleolithic in these lands. Everything seems to indicate, in any case, that the lamp is very good. Above all it tastes like sea and rock.
The recipe "to cider", more contemporary and own Hordes (Colunga), is a nuance of the new times that delights the faithful diners. You have to steam them, do not cook them, they get hard; the sauce is prepared separately with how many products from the garden have yielded the neighbors. The substance must be uniformly mixed onions, tomatoes, peppers, chorizo, ham, paprika ... It is made cider to taste and then stirred next to the llampares and seawater. The portentous result, according to the success on the table. The chicha is finished and everyone "dips bread" in their pots, squeezing the last throbs of a taste with denomination of origin.
The walkers or nécoras
Another queen from the nearby coast is the andarica, or nécora, which is usually presented in wide sources and in full, cooked simply to get the tooth quickly in a selection process that involves removing the shell of shell and legs, ingesting the pulp and sucking its internal juices, suitably salted. The walkers also lend themselves to seasoning more complex dishes, always marine. In this way they can be cooked for about fifteen minutes with half an onion, a clove of garlic and parsley. In another saucepan, cook over a low heat and for an hour, the fish that has been chosen -fish (monkfish) or hake-, preferably with a head so that it has more flavor, with half an onion, a garlic, tomato and carrot and a branch of parsley. After cooking, the meat of the crab is crushed patiently and then its shell is crushed as much as possible. The juice they release is added to the fish broth. Once strained, add the meat from the walkers, half a glass of brandy and half a glass of cider or white wine, add salt, add a little pepper and let it boil for another hour. The final touch is to add the beaten yolks in a bowl with a few tablespoons of broth.
The sea urchins or holes
The route of the sea urchins u «Oricios» begins in any enclave of the Asturian low coast in winter season. Many take hold of them in situ and eat them voraciously, although the oricios soon became renowned as delicatessen product and their elaborated ones abound now, like roe or caviar sold in cans. The oricios cake is another of its most chic manifestations, and the hake in oricios sauce is unparalleled, especially if accompanied with close relatives such as prawns and clams. The oricio is very good for a balanced diet, has iodine, marine salts, etc, but you have to be careful because in the wild click.
This is the seafood of Asturias, simple, sometimes shy, to consume before today's date at a rustic table without too many pretensions of protocol, other times without equal pretensions but presented without complexes in large fountains or cauldrons for a whole community that celebrates contemporary rites debtors of primitive rites. On other occasions treated with delicate affection, in a simple and almost minuscule way, to accompany, this time, a formal meal, even for innovations snobs more typical of catering.
Before consuming it, it is recommended that, preferably, the consumer in turn take a stroll along the Asturian coast to appreciate the first sauce of all, the authentic natural state of the largest pot imaginable where all the senses come to a boil and not only the of taste.Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com