Summer gastronomy in Galicia: dishes that taste like summer

It is not difficult to find dishes with a Galician summer flavour. You just have to take a look at the calendar of gastronomic festivals of the season: sardines, barnacles, empanadas, octopus, clams, Norway lobster, tuna… Although, to celebrate it, there are even ham and tripe festivals in the middle of July. What summer dishes have is that they are very comfortable to eat and even cook outdoors, and eating with your hands, it seems that what is eaten like this still tastes better.

Hmm… What does the beginning of summer smell like…? To the sardines! “For San Juan, the sardine wets the bread” and, if it is made from corn, better than better, or rye. The most, accompanied by cachelos (potato pieces) with peel. How good is a good sardiñada by the light of the bonfires, on the shortest night and the longest party, ending with a queimada, another classic of the Galician summer end of the festival. Nowadays they also opt for the chourizada and the barbecue, but their thing in San Juan is the sardiñada. And what a delicacy the smaller ones, which depending on the area we call xoubas, xoubiñas, parrochas, parrochiñas. The most common is to cook them in a pan. They are also very tasty in empanadas.

The empanada, that perfect invention. It is drunk all year round, but in summer it is very popular. The most common is trio flour dough, although depending on the area they are also made from corn, especially fish and shellfish, or rye. To the classic meat, tuna, cod with or without raisins, scallops… in summer they add cuttlefish, very much from the Rías Baixas, so black and tasty. And there are still people in Pontedeume who make a kind of pie with several floors, called costrada, very “light”…

The cuttlefish and all the relatives: squid, baby squid… are common in the summer season. There is no terrace that does not smell of fried squid or baby squid. Potas and baby squid are very given to stews. And cuttlefish in its ink with rice, the typical dish of Redondela. In summer there is also a scent of pepper in the air…

Since the end of May we can find Padrón peppers, those that “some are hot and others are not”. At their frying point and with grains of coarse salt on top, they are unconditional of the season, and they go well alone or with others, it can be said that they go with everything. Let’s not forget the country’s bread and wine to ease the sweat of those who itch… The A Arnoia pepper is also green but larger, and it doesn’t itch. It admits several preparations: fried, roasted, stuffed…

Returning to the sea, the barnacle also lives here, attached to the most dangerous rocks. With how small it is, it becomes the king of the market, for its flavor and its price. Although March is a good time, towards the end of summer it is another classic, especially in places like Corme or Cedeira. Just by eating one we already have the taste of the ocean in our mouths; after a barnacle, be careful not to drown…

The polbo (octopus) is available practically all year round, except in the closed season, of course. The polbo á feira has always been a party dish, cooked by the pulpeiras in enormous copper pots. As they went from fair to fair, this is how the name of the most typical recipe has remained: cooked and with olive oil and paprika, which is also called Galician. It is also taken with cachelos. Although it is eaten all year round, it is essential in summer, when it also receives tributes in Carballiño or Mugardos, where it is traditional to take it in a stew, mugardesa style. Ons is also very famous. In summer the octopus salad is very refreshing.

It seems that we did not leave the sea, but it is inevitable, with the wealth that it offers us. The mussels are delicious in summer. So exquisite, simply steamed and if not, with extra decorations: vinaigrettes, stews, batter… Cigala real (crayfish) and lumbrigante (lobster) are also summery. The latter, which spreads flavor in a good rice, has become common in beach areas.

Burela tuna, grilled, battered or cooked, and Celeiro hake, especially Galician, are Cantabrian specialties that we cannot forget, at their peak in mid-July, with the patron saint festivities.

And not everything is going to be fish… How about Galician veal, pork, lamb, capon…? Well, summer also tastes like churrasco (barbecue), either on the grill, or on the same embers, with some good chorizos. It is usually accompanied by potatoes or salad. And, very importantly, the Galician sauce for this dish, based on oil, vinegar, aromatic herbs and paprika. If we don’t have a place to make the churrasco, we have many grills for public use in the picnic areas of many mountains throughout Galicia.

And for dessert? Well, the Santiago cake, the larpeira, the melindres or the bica, for example, are ideal to take with you.

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