Catalan cuisine

Catalan Cuisine

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Pa-amb Tomaquet Catalan Tomato Bread

Pa-amb Tomaquet Catalan Tomato Bread

Catalan cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine from Catalonia. It may also refer to the shared cuisine of Roussillon and Andorra, which has a similar cuisine to the Alt Urgell and Cerdanya comarques, often referred to as “Catalan mountain cuisine”. It is considered a part of western Mediterranean cuisine.

Basic Ingredients

It relies heavily on ingredients popular along the Mediterranean coast, including fresh vegetables (especially tomato, garlic, eggplant , capsicum, and artichoke), wheat products (bread, pasta), Arbequina olive oils, wines, legumes (beans, chickpeas), mushrooms, all sorts of pork preparations (sausage, ham), all sorts of cheese, poultry, lamb, and many types of fish like sardine, anchovy, tuna, and cod.

The traditional Catalan cuisine is quite diverse, ranging from pork-intensive dishes cooked in the inland part of the region (Catalonia is one of the main producers of swine products in Spain) to fish-based recipes along the coast.

Coques, a kind of pizza

Coques, a kind of pizza

The cuisine includes many preparations that mix sweet and savoury and stews with sauces based upon Botifarra (pork sausage) and the characteristic Picada (ground almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, etc. sometimes with garlic, herbs, biscuits).

Savoury Dishes

  • Catalan-style cod – With raisins and pine nuts
  • Escalivada – A typical preparation of Catalan cuisine that consists of several types of grilled vegetables, such as eggplants, sweet red peppers, red tomatoes, and sweet onions. Once well cooked on the grill, those vegetables are peeled and sliced in strips, the seeds removed, and seasoned with olive oil and salt, and sometimes with garlic as well.
  • Escudella – A stew, it may served as soup with pasta and minced meats and vegetables, or as the soup first and then the rest
  • Ollada – Meat and vegetable stew
  • Esqueixada – Salted cod salad with tomato and onion
  • Mongetes ambbotifarra – Beans and pork sausage
  • Pa amb tomàquet – Bread smeared with tomato and oil, and sometimes garlic
  • Tonyina en escabetx – Tuna escabeche
  • Suquet de peix – A Catalan fish soup that can be made with any type of fish or seafood.
  • Savoury Coca –
  • Mar i Muntanya (“Sea and Mountain”) dishes – Combine meat and seafood
  • Embotits – A generic name for different kinds of cured pork meat, including Fuet (a characteristic type of dried sausage) and Salchichón or Llonganissa (salami).
  • Calçot – Specially cultivated onion, grilled and served as a “Calçotada”
  • Cargols a la llauna – Cooked snails
  • Sonsos

Sauces and Condiments

Calçots with Romesco sauce for dipping

Calçots with Romesco sauce for dipping

  • Allioli – A thick sauce made of garlic and olive oil, used with grilled meats or vegetables, and some dishes. Allioli means garlic (all) and (i) oil (oli) in Catalan.
  • Samfaina, also called tomacat or pebrots amb tomàquet – A variety of Occitan ratatouille or Spanish Pisto.
  • Salvitxada – Made from almonds, hazelnuts, garlic, bread, vinegar, tomatoes, olive oil and dried red peppers.
  • Xató – A typical Catalan sauce made with almonds, hazelnuts, breadcrumbs, vinegar, garlic, olive oil, salt, and the nyora pepper. Xató is often served with an endive salad prepared with anchovy, tuna and salted cod (bacallà).
A crema catalana

A crema catalana

Sweets and Desserts

  • Crema catalana – Crème brûlée also known as burnt cream, crema catalana, or Trinity cream is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. It is normally served at room temperature.
  • Mató de Pedralbes or mató de monja – Another kind of Catalan cream, similar to crema catalana, originated in Barcelona.
  • Menjablanc or menjar blanc – Typical of Reus but eaten all over Catalonia, is a kind of white cream made with almonds, of which we obtain first a sort of milk, and after we make with this a cream which will be eaten with a small spoon.
  • Peres de Lleida – A typical dessert originated in Lleida composed by peeled pears cooked in a kind of lighter crema catalana and served cold, covered by meringue and decorated with cherries.
  • Xuixos – Are fried pastries created in Girona and stuffed with crema catalana.
  • Mel i mató – A dessert of mató cheese with honey
  • Pastissets, or casquetes, de cabell d’àngel – Sweet half-circle shaped pastries stuffed with cabell d’àngel (a sort of marrow jam) and covered with white crystal sugar which are eaten at coffee time
  • Carquinyolis – Little almond crunchy biscuits often eaten at coffee time.
  • Catànies – Catalan marcona almonds covered by white chocolate and powdered black chocolate to eat with the coffee.
  • Pets de monja – Small nipple-shaped and sized biscuits also eaten at coffee time. At first they were called pits de monja (nuns’ nipples) but time has changed their name to current pets de monja (nuns’ farts).
  • Sweet coques – Were at first eaten only in holidays. Catalans have at least on type of traditional coca for each holy-day and feast day of the year.
  • Orelletes – Thin fried pastries covered with sugar and eaten during carnival. They also exist in nearby regions in Spain or France.
  • Sweet bunyols as bunyols de vent, bunyols stuffed with crema catalana or bunyols de l’Empordà – Typically done and eaten on Wednesdays and Fridays during lent.
  • Mona de Pasqua – A pastry richly covered with almonds, yolk jam, chocolate eggs (or currently big chocolate sculptures) and coloured decoration that the godfather and godmother give as a present, every year, to their godchildren in Easter (Pasqua). It is a very old tradition that existed before Christianity and which marked the passage from childhood to the adult’s world. At first, it has one egg for each year of the children’s age and that stopped at twelve, as at thirteen they were no longer considered children.
  • Panellets – Small pastries made of pine nuts, almonds and sugar with different shapes and flavours, eaten during la Castanyada, that Catalans celebrate on 1 November instead of Halloween. Their origin is Jewish, before the Middle Ages, but the tradition of castanyada is very much older.
  • Tortell – Also called torta or roscó in northern and southern dialects. It is round, it can be made of puff pastry or a mixture similar as lionesas and palos, stuffed with trufa (a mixture of cacao, chocolate and cream) or with crema catalana. It is typically bought and eaten after Sunday’s lunch, in family or with friends. It is also typical, as an alternative, the braç de gitano, that in Catalonia is always covered with yolk jam.
  • Tortell de reis – A specific tortell is in fact a special coca that Catalan only eat the day of the Three Kings (6 January) which is called “tortell de reis”, or galeta de reis in French Catalonia, a typical ring-shaped pastry stuffed with marzipan or Catalan cream (crema catalana) and topped with glazed fruit and nuts.
  • Torró – A Christmas sweet made with almonds with DAO of Agramunt (Lleida).
  • Neules – Also eaten on Christmas in Catalonia. They are dipped in cava (Catalan champagne). They have the same origin as Waffles and Belgian Goffres.

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