Asturian cuisine refers to the typical dishes and ingredients found in the cuisine of the Asturias region of Spain. Asturias is a province in the region known as Green Spain, which includes Galicia, Asturias, the Basque Country (El Pais Vasco) and Cantabria.
Traditional gastronomical thinking would lump all these regions together and call them the “land of the sauces.” However, each area has its own culinary contributions to make, so it is best to focus on each one individually.
Where is Asturias?
Asturias is sandwiched between the regions of Galicia to the west, Cantabria to the east and Castilla-Leon to the south. Luckily, Asturias has miles of coastline on the Cantabric Sea to the north, which provides Asturian regional cuisine with high quality fish and seafood. Asturians are proud of their history, including the fact that in 722 AD, they helped Prince Pelayo fight off the Moors. For many centuries after that achievement, Asturias was looked upon as a poor region of simple farmers until the end of the 19th century, when the region experienced more prosperous times.
Traditionally, Asturians are farmers, shepherds and fishermen. Even today many shepherds allow their flocks of sheep to roam the beautiful green hillsides, and the native breeds of cattle are prized for their milk. Asturias is the land of cheese, and there are over two dozen varieties of cow, sheep and goat’s milk cheeses produced in Asturias.
Well Known Asturian Dishes
The regional cuisine of Asturias is well-known in Spain and Latin America. Here are some of the better known dishes from Asturias:
- Fabada Asturiana – Asturian Bean and Sausage Casserole : Probably one of the most famous Spanish dishes is Fabada Asturiana, a sausage and bean casserole. It is so popular that Spaniards have canned it and exported fabada all over the world. Spanish women brought their recipes with them to Latin America for centuries and so it is very popular there, as well. At present, you can find the sausage, ham and other ingredients for fabada shrink-wrapped in little packages in the meat department of Spanish supermarkets!Although Fabada Asturiana is the most famous dish using fabas or beans that are grown locally, there are many other dishes that combine the beans with rabbit, mushrooms and even salmon.
- Caldereta – Fish Stew : This fish stew contains not just fish, but lobster and crab as well. Add onion, parsley, fresh tomato and a bit of white wine and cognac and you have the most delicious fish stew you’ve ever tasted!
- Merluza a la Sidra – Hake in Cider : This main course appears on menus in most restaurants in the region. Hake or Merluza of very good quality is available in Asturias and Cantabria, the neighbouring region. Merluza a la Sidra is a delicious blend of hake fish, clams, onion, garlic, tomato, potatoes, apples and a bit of cider, cooked in a ceramic dish, then baked.
- Salmón a la Ribereña – Salmon with Cider Asturian Style : Asturias is known for salmon rivers named Nalon and Della and it is Spain’s leading salmon producing region. This dish is made with salmon, bacon, ham and cider or white wine.
- Carne Gobernada – Carne Gobernada – Asturian-Style Beef in White Wine : A typical dish from Oviedo, capital of Asturias. It is a traditional main course, prepared by very slowly cooking the chunks of beef in onions and white wine until they are tender.
Cheeses in Asturian Cuisine
Asturian cheeses, especially Cabrales, are famous throughout Spain and beyond; Cabrales is known for its pungent odour and strong flavour. Asturias is often called “the land of cheeses” (el pais de los quesos) due to the product’s diversity and quality in this region. Other famous cheeses are:
- Afuega’l pitu – An unpasteurised cow’s milk cheese from Asturias. The cheese comes in different types that are recognised by its form/shape, the ingredients added and the aging period
- Beyos cheese
- Casín cheese
- Gamonéu cheese
- La Peral cheese