Like all traditional cuisine, Gijón’s rich (and tasty) culinary offerings follow the seasons. Although flagship dishes such as fabada or hake in cider sauce are nowadays served up all year round, the true gourmet seeks out what each season offers. The following suggestions are just a few of the delicacies you can enjoy at different times of the year in Gijón
Menestra is a mixed vegetable and meat stew offering a variety of textures and mouth-watering flavours. The recipe usually includes most (or all) of the following ingredients: onions, red and green peppers, carrots, green beans, white asparagus, artichokes and potatoes fresh from the market gardens along with cuts of veal, chicken and cured ham, all stewed in a savoury broth seasoned with garlic and parsley and topped with halved boiled eggs . Just the job to delight the palate and warm your belly on a breezy spring day!
Bonito or albacore or longfin tuna (Thunnus alalunga) reigns in Gijón during the summer months. The local residents eagerly await the bonito-fishing season (costera de bonito), popularly marked by the festivity of St Peter and St Paul at the end of June. Time to enjoy this tuna species in all its traditional preparations: griddled steaks (bonito a la plancha) with freshly-made tomato and onion sauce, baked belly (ventresca), fish loaf (rollo de bonito) or diced and sautéed (tacos), to name just the most popular dishes. Long may the bonito reign over the Bay of Biscay!
This season sees the harvesting of the star product of Asturias’ market gardens, fabes, a Protected Designation of Origin variety of large white beans that form the basis of two of the region’s emblematic stews, fabada and pote asturiano. However, these protein-packed beans can also be “paired” with other ingredients, especially the wild mushrooms (setas) that are fervently “hunted” in autumn in Asturias’ verdant hills and mountains, or game such as wild boar and venison for the more carnivorous. Not to mention delicious combinations with different varieties of Bay of Biscay shellfish that also begin to be “harvested” at this time of year!
However, probably the most eagerly awaited seasonal product of the year in Gijón comprises purple sea urchins (oricios), or more specifically their roe or corals. Eaten raw by their most fervent devotees though usually served up steaming after a rapid boil, this delicacy that simply melts on the tongue may not boast the prestige of caviar, but certainly encapsulates all the flavour of the Atlantic. The roe is also bursting with the beneficial pluses of the iodine that lends it its distinctive orange colour. For the less adventuresome, the roe can also be savoured in sauces, scrambled eggs or omelettes. If you get a taste for oricios, there is a growing local canning industry that allows you to take this delicatessen home with you!