Perhaps, its famous fish stew is the most emblematic of its dishes. Its recipe combines fine rock fish with a wide variety of seafood. Also important is the cider, used to cook its most fresh fish: hake, king fish, red bream ... But we do not forget grilled sardines, fried anchovies, small sardines ("parrochas", Spanish name) that form the wide variety of tapas that Gijón offers in all bars, restaurants, and cider bars.
Photo by Kike Llamas.
In the Asturian kitchen, the city of Gijón occupies a central place. It is probably due to its famous cooks or by the fact that it uses a lot of products from its sea to cook the most traditional dishes of this Principality. With no doubt, the local gastronomy finds its source of inspiration in the Bay of Biscay that bathes its coasts.
When we sit at the table of its restaurants, with a nice tablecloth and a professionalized service (years of experience), we then have a look to the menu and we can check the presence of the natural products of this city, fresh fish and seafood. Fried hake and codfish, fish and seafood soup, little octopus cooked on low flame or the small cuttlefish ready-cooked. But there are other exquisite varieties such as the scorpion fish or the "golondru", fish made in a cooking pot, or the well known fresh tuna, a summer dish that has its origin in the neighborhood of Cimadevilla. Other appetizing summer dishes are the squids captured with hook, monkfish cooked with lobster and red mullets fried or grilled. Seafood is also a dominant ingredient such as clams or small edible crabs with the most basic seasoning: garlic, onion, olive oil, parsley, paprika and white wine. Seafood can be also tasteful only with a good cooking: prawns, crawfish, goose barnacle, razor-shells, spider crabs, limpets and the famous sea urchins, one of the best gastronomic pleasures that Gijón has degusted since ever.
We are mouth-watering when we smell the tasteful air coming out from the kitchen bars. Fry, stew, blanch and crystallize are the steps to follow in order to prepare a delicious dish in this city. This is a vocabulary born on the kitchen fires. This city creates its own dialect to refer to its own way of cooking, really famous in the country. But apart from the products from the sea, this kitchen also includes products from the land and air. We can find them in classic pots, mixed vegetables, rice with beans, recipes of red meat and Asturian desserts. Among its desserts we may mention the famous "Charlota" a cake made with a base of sponge, chocolate and crystallized cherries. The local cake "Tarta Gijonesa" is made with a mixture of almonds and the traditional candy eaten at Christmas. Also delicious is the Asturian rice pudding, apple cakes, small local cakes and hazelnut cakes.
In these days the local gastronomy has been enriched by a new way of enjoying the meals. Groups of people go to these restaurants in order to have a delicious meal and enjoy a fun time. These events are the essence of the Asturian culture. "The espichas", parties or celebrations, are characterized by the eating of snacks, starters and drinking a lot of local cider. Fried food, sausages, omelettes, cold meat, boiled eggs are put in long tables in big places full of big barrels, like if we were in a winery. In the proximities of the Local University, near the Botanic Garden, between the areas known as the "Magdalene" and the "Maizales", there are numerous picnic areas, several cider factories and bars. In the parishes of Cabueñes, Cefontes or Castiello where the landscape is completely rural, full of fruit trees, we find the biggest density of local bars and restaurants.
In the shapes of the local gastronomy of Gijón we may include the avant-garde kitchen, really enjoyed by gourmets looking for new textures and flavors of author. Numerous restaurants of this kind are spread along this region, enjoying several Michelin stars and also with the regional brand of Tables of Asturias. We are talking about new dishes, with new names: cocktail of boiled eggs, brick of sausages with gel of cider, small glass of small edible crabs to culinary reinterpretation, with a distinctive touch in order to please the most demanding palates that go to Gijón , because they know that it is really worthy to sit at the table in the capital of the Green Coast.
Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com