Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Conquest of Galicia's Bounty of Seafood

During my five days travelling in Galicia, I made sure to taste as much of the region’s varied seafood as possible.

Everything was fresh and local, thanks to the abundance of fishermen, shellfish and fish along the region’s long Atlantic coastline. For the most part, pr
eparation (quick sauté or grilled) and seasonings (butter or olive oil, sea salt) were kept simple, allowing the flavors of the ocean to shine. Outside of one mushy plate of octopus, everything I ate was delicious.

The highlight was Tira do Cordel, a restaurant in Fisterra. We started with razor clams (navajas, photo above right), smaller scallops (zamburiñas, photo below left), larger scallops (vieiras) and barnacles (percebes). The scallops had different flavors, the barnacles were a treat, but the meaty razor clams were my favorite.

Following that we ordered sea bass (lubina), which was the second best piece of fish I’ve eaten in my life. It was c
ooked perfectly (delicate meat, crispy skin) and its flavor was superb.

The best piece of
fish of my life came the next night when we returned to Tira do Cordel. As we were leaving after our first dinner there, I saw a fisherman walk in and show a bucket of lubina to the owner, who said “tan grande” (so big).

The next night th
e owner explained that bigger lubina taste better. I never doubted him and the slightly larger fish had a noticeably richer flavor.

Other seafood I ate (all of it first-rate) included cockles, squid, baby and adult octopus, sardines, shrimp, cod, hake and monkfish. And I guess I have to mention the handful of Galician empanadas—filled with tuna or sardines—that I devoured.

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