Tapas tips

A la plancha - Out of a tin - With a potato - Over the counter - Out of the frying pan
Out of a bottle

Links - Enlaces

Ground rules

tapas are appetisers - small portions, variety of tastes
, with a glass or two of wine or dry sherry, an hour or so before a meal [so-called 'Tapas bars' in the UK usually serve larger portions - known as raciones in Spain - 3 or 4 of which make a reasonable meal]
most cooked dishes will need seasoning - salt and pepper nearly always, garlic and parsley usually; some will appreciate a touch of lemon
use olive oil only - preferably extra virgin

A la plancha

Couldn't be simpler - just season, maybe marinate, and cook rapidly on a hot hot-plate or Spanish-style corrugated pan, or a dry frying pan - no oil.

calabacines courgettes sliced thin; maybe salt, leave to stand, then dry off excess water first
berengenas aubergines as above
pimientos asados peppers green or red, as above; very tasty!
espárragos asparagus fresh green ones; cut off any woody stalks, brush with olive oil, marinade for a while
pollo al aire libre chicken breast our camping favourite (our name as well!): chicken (or turkey) breast - slice in thin strips, brush with oil, leave to marinate; also works with pork, lamb, steak - but chicken's cheaper

Out of a tin

Even simpler than above. Needs tin opener.

aceitunas olives stuffed with anchovies; and/or whole - marinate in jar with water, garlic, salt, pepper and a few snips of red chili pepper; or marinate in a little olive oil plus seasoning
alcachofas artichoke hearts drain off liquid, maybe coat in mayonnaise

Things to do with a potato

Or two.

tortilla española Spanish omelette slice potato very thin to nearly fill pan, add oil to cover, and fry slowly with onion and garlic until soft, add beaten egg (less than you thought, just enough to bind potato and add flavour - say 2 eggs in standard frying pan for 12 tapas portions), salt and pepper; cook on slightly higher heat until underside firm, turn onto plate then slide back into pan to cook other side; magnificent cold
patatas bravas spicy potatoes boil potatoes, or maybe parboil, then fry or roast; coat (or maybe cook) in thin sauce of tomato, onion, garlic and warm/hot spice such as paprika or cayenne

Over the counter

Your deli should have it.

jamón serrano cured ham sliced thin; the best melts in the mouth
chorizo spicy cold sausage thick one sliced thin, or thin one sliced thick
queso manchego cheese from La Mancha in a supermarket near you; accept no substitutes

Out of the frying pan

… and straight onto the plate.

pescaíto frito fried mini-fish eg whitebait: coat in egg (maybe) and flour, fry rapidly in hot oil; outdoor cooking recommended - only to be risked indoors if you don't have to live in the house afterwards
gambas al ajillo prawns in garlic heat sliced garlic in oil until browned, then discard; fry prawns (in shells) rapidly; there is a knack to shelling them that some of us haven't quite got, so provide plentiful supply of tissues or - better still - enjoy licking fingers
champiñones al ajillo mushrooms in garlic flavour oil with garlic as above, then fry mushrooms medium to fast for 2 minutes max. until firm but beginning to soften; definitely sprinkle with parsley, possibly also lemon

Out of a bottle

Wet the appetite. Whet it as well.

fino dry sherry or manzanilla; nothing else will do
tinto red wine medium range Spanish, don't break the bank
tinto de verano summer red red wine and lemonade, 50/50 - yes 50/50, this is to drink, not to get drunk on; ice; use cheaper Spanish - Valencia, La Mancha
sangría sangria, as we say in English as tinto de verano above with bits of sliced fresh fruit - peaches (classic - soaks up the wine), also oranges, maybe grapes, try others to taste; maybe squeeze a lemon; secret ingredients: small glass of coñac (Spanish brandy) and teaspoon of cinnamon powder per 2 or 3 litres
agua de Valencia Valencian water ...with a difference cava (Catalan bubbly) and fresh orange juice, 50/50; add a dash of coñac for extra effect

Tapas links

Sites with recipes in English. There must be more.

El mundo de las tapas recipes, history; also in Spanish


Sitios con recetas en español. ¿Hay más?

¡A Tapear! Tapas de cocina historia, sitios, links, consejos, recetario - más de 200 auténticas tapas

photos © Michael Shade, not to be used for commercial purposes without permission

Spain here and there

Updated: 16 June, 2002
comments & suggestions to: m.shade@btinternet.com