Are you wondering what foods are considered tapas? Well, continue reading this article to the end to learn that. Tapas are Spain’s signature snacks or small meals that are essential to Spanish culture. The word Tapa is a Spanish name for a snack or appetizer. They have an appealing aroma and are often eaten before or between meals alongside a drink which, in most cases alcoholic. In this article, we will discuss What tapas are, the three types of tapas and the 13 most popular Spanish tapas you can find in tapas menu.
What are tapas?
Tapa is a food style that originated in Spain but is now present in almost every country. And since tapas refers to a way of eating food and does not imply one given dish, tapas can be just anything as long as it is shared and in small portions. However, because tapas have been around for several decades, hundreds of healthy and delicious recipes are available on almost every tapas menu. Tapas comprises a wide variety of small dishes and snacks.
In Spain, tapas are prepared in large quantities but divided into small plates of food. They are essentially bar snacks served warm or cold alongside alcoholic beverages.
What are the 3 types of tapas?
There are three main types of tapas grouped according to how easy they are to eat, including
The 3 most important tapas in Spain.
Pinchos are one of the popular types of tapas. It usually consists of sliced bread topped with different toppings, such as Spanish ham, fish, or tortilla spiked with a toothpick. This type of tapas is originally from Northern Spain. There is plenty of Pinchos bar in cities like Sebastian and Bilbao. Whenever you are in Spain, make sure you take a bite of delicious pinchos!
2. Finger food: Cocas de picar
Cocas de picaris a Spanish name that means “things to nibble.” This category of tapas refers to finger foods like nuts and olives.
3. Little dishes: Cazuelas
Cazuelas is a Spanish name that means little dishes. Cazuelas are tapas that are served in small portions of dishes that usually come in a sauce.
The 13 Most Popular Spanish Tapas
Tapas are snacks and appetizers of Spanish cuisines that are taken in small servings. Most of the tapas are traditional and forms part of Spanish food culture. Cold or hot drinks can also be tapas in Spain.
If you want fresh food and a good atmosphere for tapas in Spain, visit during the traditional Spanish Tapas time between 1:30 and 3 PM. You can also take mid-morning Tapas between 8:30 to 10:30 AM.
Below are the 13 best Spanish tapas dishes to try out when you visit Spain.
1. IBERIAN/CURED HAM
It is one of the most expensive traditional tapas you should try out. Iberian ham is a cured pig’s fatty piece of meat, mostly the leg. More fat allows for more curing to improve flavor and sweetness.
Iberian Ham is very nutritious and helpful to your body as it contains high iron levels. This tapa is not cooked but served as paper-thin slices in combination with bread. A slight warming, however, activates the flavor. Rubbing the bread with some tomato and garlic makes it a more satisfying mouth feel.
2. PATATA BRAVAS
Patatas Bravas, alias spicy potatoes, is one of the typical appetizers in Spain, owing to the easy preparation method. Potatoes are put to boil in salted water for minutes before they fry.
The fried potatoes are then served in spicy sauce. Spices to prepare the sauce include hot paprika, onion, garlic, vinegar, and tomatoes. Patata bravas can be served with fried fish or baked chicken. It is mainly enjoyed in bars, where is best accompanied by a glass of white wine.
3. CALAMARES A LA ROMANA
It is also commonly known as calamares fritos. This particular Spanish snack is made of fried squid rings. It is effortless to prepare even at home. Squid rings are just bread and fried. A simple recipe for fast food used as a morning and evening snack.
The crispy squid rings are then served with pieces of lemon for flavor or a touch of mayonnaise. It is most common in Madrid as a fast-food dish. It has an attractive aroma that will spice up your day.
4. BREAD WITH TOMATO
In Spain, it’s popularly known as Pan Con Tomate. This dish is a perfect appetizer during celebrations and dinner. It has a simple and quick recipe.
Bread is toasted, then sliced or crushed tomato spread on top. Olive oil, salt, and garlic are added for a spicy flavor.
Bread with tomato can also be served with sausages, ham, and cheese.
5. BOQUERONES EN VINAGREE
It is a well-known delicious appetizer in Spain. It takes about 9 hours to prepare this type of tapas. The main ingredient is boquerones, well known as fresh anchovies. Anchovies are hand-picked fillets from the Cantabrian Sea.
Boquerones en Vinagre is prepared by separately marinating the fresh anchovies in salty water and vinegar.
It is soaked in salty water for 3 hours and 6 hours in vinegar before being drained. After draining, salt, olive oil, garlic, and parsley marination and seasoning are done to improve taste and flavor. Due to its bitter taste, it is best taken alongside your favourite drink, white wine.
This snack is almost similar to Gambas Al Ajillo (garlic prawn. The only difference is that garlic prawns are cooked in a clay pot before frying in garlic and persley with olive oil.
6. TORTILLA ESPANOLA
It is an omelette of Spanish nature. Some essential ingredients to prepare Tortilla Espanola include eggs, potatoes, salt, onions, and olive oil.
Salt retains eggs moisture when preparing eggs, and plenty of olive oil gives the omelette a soft, perfect texture.
It is tasty traditional tapas to eat as a mid-morning snack, appetizer, or main meal. It is best served warm to maintain the taste and flavor.
7. ESPINACOS CON GARBANZOS
This is a tapa that is most common in Sevilla, Spain. The main ingredients, spinach, and chickpeas, give the snack a vegan touch. Cod is soaked in salt for a day and then prepared with chickpeas, white beans, and spinach.
Spicing is made using garlic, oil, paprika, and onions. Espanacos Con Garbanzos is a perfect snack and appetizer during winter and is served in all local Spanish restaurants.
Another popular type of tapa you can find in a tapas bar. Ham croquettes are the traditional type of croquettes, but you can also find them made up of king crab, wild mushrooms, prawns, squid, and strong cheese such as cabrale. Croquettes are tasty, with a crispy exterior and a soft inside. Besides, they are a sure hit as an afternoon snack or a tapa with a glass of wine or beer.
9. Garlic prawns (Gambas al Ajillo)
Suppose you are looking for a tasty tapa or afternoon snack; try garlic prawns, also known as Gambas al ajillo. It is one of the most typical and popular tapas in Central and Southern Spain, especially in Madrid. Garlic Prawns are easy to prepare and are usually served with red or white wine in bars. The dish is prepared by cooking prawns in a clay pot. Once they are ready, fry them with garlic and parsley in olive.
10. Albondigas en Salsa
Albondigas en Salsa is one of the quintessential tapas dishes in Spain. It consists of pork and beef meatballs cooked in a spiced tomato sauce. This dish usually has an appetizing aroma due to the added spices making you want to eat them repeatedly.
11. Gilda Pintxo
La Gilda is one of the most popular and best-known tapas or pintxos. It is a super healthy low, calories snack. This dish was first created in the Basque region of Spain more than 65 years ago. Gilda pintxo is fast to prepare; it will take you around a minute to prepare it. Also, it hardly requires any cooking skills to master it. This delicious snack consists of hot pepper, olive, and anchovy skewers. For water mothering Gilda Pintxo visit San Sebastian city and check in on any of the tapas bars along the neighbourhoods.
Mussel is a classical tapa in Northern Spain. It has a unique and very rich flavour. Mussels are mainly steamed and best served with a lemon or mixed with finely chopped onion, tomato and pepper. Besides marinating, the mussels make a great appetizer.
13. Ensaladilla Rusa
Ensaladilla Rusa, or Spanish potato salad, is a traditional Russian dish that is an excellent complement to tapas from Southern Spain. This delicious tapa is made with a base of egg, potato, mayonnaise and carrots. Others bump up the flavour of ensaladilla with peas, fresh parsley or tuna. The Spanish potato salad is best served cold.
Conclusion on Spanish tapas
All the above-highlighted best Spanish tapas are part of Spanish cuisine. You can always go right with the aromatic tapas, even during celebrations. The recipes are straightforward, so you comfortably prepare them at home.
If you want to enjoy good tapas and economical I highly recommend you visit the city of Granada where you can get a free tapa ordering a drink, in southern Spain is very popular and is usually cheaper than the big cities of Spain, also in southern Spain are the cheapest cities in Spain to live.