ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

15 Popular Spanish Tapas Dishes You Need to Try!

Updated on February 9, 2014
Tapas bar in Barcelona
Tapas bar in Barcelona | Source

Definition of Tapas

I don't recall exactly when I first tried tapas. It must've been in DC's Bodega Restaurant because I got hooked when I lived in our nation's capital. In any case, I do remember always loving tapas. I love the whole concept of eating small delicious dishes while socializing and drinking. It's perfect.

Tapas are essentially small plates of simple yet delicious Spanish delicacies. They're supposed to work up your appetite between lunch and dinner, since dinner is generally eaten between 9pm and 11pm in Spain (so late!). So after work, Spaniards "Ir de tapas" (go bar hopping), drinking and eating tapas. Tapas are similar to hors d'œuvres, except it's much easier to spell, let alone pronounce. And taps can be either served cold or hot.

I asked my good friend Carlos, a Spaniard, what the most popular and his favorite dishes are and I was quite surprised with his answers because I had never heard of either and have been to Spain maybe a dozen times. He mentioned pan tumaca and a really original tapa dish from the city of Valladolid called "Obama en la Casa Blanca", which is served in a custom-made "white-dome" pottery bowl, and the meal consists of Porcino mushrooms, poached egg, a crust of puff pastry filled with dehydrated potato in squid sauce. Sounds delicious!

Source

Tapas in Madrid

I've been lucky enough to have visited Madrid a bunch of times and love the fact that some bars actually serve a free tapa with a drink. This custom evidently stems all the way from the time of Felipe the 3rd who was king from 1598 until 1621 and passed a law that stated that bars must serve a small portion of food to patrons who order an alcoholic drink. A snack to be places on top of the mug (thus the name tapas, which means "cover"). It was an effort to curb drunkenness!

Pinchos or tapas?

A pincho, which literally means "spike" in Spanish, also referred to as pintxo in Basque country is related to tapas. The difference between the two is that pinchos are typically eaten individually, whereas tapas are shared.

La Tortilla Espanola

La tortilla espanola has been referred to as the national dish of Spain. What is it? Well it's an omelet but not the kind of Spanish omelet that we're familiar with in the US. This omelet is made of (obviously) eggs, potatoes, and onions. It's served either warm or cold.

Gambas al Ajillo

Gambas are prawns and as tapas, they come sauteed in garlic (al ajillo), in chopped chili peppers (pil-pil), or in peppercorn sauce (salsa negra).

Gambas rojas
Gambas rojas | Source

Croquetas de Jamon

Croquetas de Jamon are ham croquettes. You know, those small, lightly breaded fritters which are deep fried. Ham croquettes can also come with mashed potatoes and those are called croquetas de patatas y jamon. Another popular croquette fillings is cocido which is a stew of meat, chickpeas and veggies.

Boquerones

Boquerones are anchovies. When ordered at a tapas bar, boquerones refers to marinated anchovies. There's also boquerones fritos which are fried anchovies, smothered in sea salt.

Croquetas
Croquetas | Source

Pan con Tumaca

Pan con tumaca, also referred to as pan tumaca or pan con tomate is toasted country-style bread smeared with tomato, garlic and olive oil and then topped with cured meats.

Pimientos de Padrón

Pimientos de Padrón are my personal favorites! I like to refer to these peppers from Padron as the Russian roulette of food because although most are mild, you might get one that's fiery hot. They're usually fried in olive oil and are served with lots of sea salt.

Pimientos de Padrón
Pimientos de Padrón | Source
Olives
Olives | Source

Bacalao

Bacalao is salted cod fish and it comes as the main ingredient on many tapa dishes.

Aceitunas

Aceitunas means "olives" in Spanish and in Spain, they're served as a tapa dish and come filled with anchovies, carrots, or peppers.

Calamares Fritos

You might already be familiar with calamares fritos as I was by the dish's Italian name "fried calamari". Known as calamares in Spanish, or rabas, calamares is "squid" and fritos mean "fried". Calamares fritos are lightly breaded and friend squid rings.

There's also tiny squid served as tapas and they're called chopitos, and are also referred to as puntillitas.

Tosta de Jamón
Tosta de Jamón | Source

Chorizo al Vino

Chorizo is a type of pork sausage (it's called chouriço in Portuguese). It's a popular tapa dish and comes braised in different liquids. I like it cooked in wine (vino in Spanish), hence the name chorizo al vino. It can also be cooked in cider, and is known as chorizo a la sidra. And another one of my favorites is chorizo with mushrooms, smothered in spicy sauce - it's called chorizo a la plancha.

Empanadas

Empanadas, also called empanadillas (cute way of saying small empanadas) are essentially turnovers with an option of different fillings, either vegetable or meat.

Salpicón de Mariscos
Salpicón de Mariscos | Source

Jamón Ibérico y Huevo de Codorniz

Jamón ibérico y huevo de codorniz is Ibérico ham and quail egg. I love it! Iberico ham is also served on a toast and is called Tosta de Jamón and it can also come with a tomato. When served with a tomato, it's called tosta de jamón y tomate.

Salpicón de Marisco

Salpicón de Marisco is like a seafood salad, or more like a vinaigrette of every time of seafood imaginable. It's awesome on a hot summer day and I love to sprinkle lots of lemon on it!

Tapa de sardinas en tomate
Tapa de sardinas en tomate | Source

Sardinas en Tomate

Sardinas en tomate are preserved sardines served over a crusty bread with tomato.

Queso con membrillo

Queso is cheese in Spanish and one of my personal favorite ways to eat it is with marmalade. It's called Queso con membrillo in Spanish. The cheese that's usually used is Manchego cheese. I love the combination of sweet and savory. Another amazing cheese dish is Bocaditos de Cabrales, which means "Cabrales cheese bites", with Cabrales being a type of cheese. There's also queso do cabra, which is "goat cheese".

Are you itching yet to host a tapas dinner party? I know I am after writing about so many tasty goodies!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 4 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Delicioso este hub. Wonderful. In Andalucia we had lots of jamon y queso de cabra - on toast, bread, - and other delights too many to mention. These great images and words are tapas in themselves, a mini feast.

      Cheese and marmalade yes! It's all good stuff. Un abrazo.

    • sarahmoose profile image

      Sarah Chewings 4 years ago from Nottingham, England

      Wonderful hub! I love tapas, but find it never tastes as good when eating it at home. My favourite has to be the tortilla, although I really love all the dishes!

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 4 years ago from India

      Mouth watering!! awesome hub. Good read, gained knowledge as well about the foods i am not familiar with. Thanks for sharing :)

    • DaveysRecipeRead profile image

      DaveysRecipeRead 4 years ago

      Quite yummy! Never been to Madrid (always ended up in southwest of Spain when I vacationed there) but now I'd sure like to. Thanks for the well researched information.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 4 years ago from Northern, California

      I have to try Pan con tumaca! Anything slathered in good olive oil and garlic is "tapas" on my list! Fantastic list of yummy selection GC! Voted way up and FB shared!

      HubHugs~

    • Global-Chica profile image
      Author

      Anna 4 years ago from New York, NY

      Chef-de-jour - awesome that you got to taste lots of tapas on your trip. Un abrazo back at ya!

      Sarahmoose - I totally agree with you that it never tastes quite as good at home when you make tapas. It's probably the awesome atmosphere when you're at a tapas place that makes the whole package!

      Dilipchandra12 - Really glad you enjoyed the hub :D

      DaveysRecipeRead - Happy to hear that my hub spurred your interest in Madrid. I was also pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the city.

      K9keystrokes - You have to let me know what you think of the pan com tumaca when you give it a try! Thanks so much for sharing! HubHugs to you too!

    Click to Rate This Article