Four renowned chefs: Nieves Barragán, Ángel Zapata, Nacho del Campo and Owen Morgan unveil their favorite 'tapas'
Spain undoubtedly has an incredibly rich range of traditional culinary dishes, foods, and wines, with a heritage and local know-how which makes dishes such as paella so popular across the world. However, there is a plethora of lesser-known dishes that are innovative and exciting and offer a twist on the classics or offer something completely new altogether.
We thought there could be no better way to demonstrate this than to ask some of the UK’s best Spanish chefs to give their top tips on innovative Spanish tapas dishes that you may never have heard of but, once you try them, will go back to again and again.
Michelin star winning chef Nieves Barragán Mohacho from Sabor shares her top tapas dish for the summer as well as a bespoke tapas wine pairing suggestion: Her tapa of choice is the tuna steak parpatana, with spiced sweet piquillo pepper and potato. The parpatana is a premium cut of tuna from under the jaw. “I fell in love with this dish when I visited Cadiz. Of course, the Andalusian coast is the very best for blue fin tuna and this dish shows it off so well. I wanted to treat the tuna like a steak. It deserves to be treated this way. I would have a glass of Fino en Rama with this dish, made in the same area, it's the perfect partner.”
Ángel Zapata Martín, Chef Director at Barrafina, also chose to share his top fish tapas dish: “Esqueixada de serviola, which as a concept is something similar to ceviche. A very traditional dish with its origin is in Catalunya on the Mediterranean coast. “It’s basically a fish marinated in olive oil and sherry vinegar where there are a few more elements such as: fresh tomatoes, anchovies, olives, pickled chillies or piparras, fresh onions, frisee lettuce o escarole and, at Barrafina and Parrillan, we add some oranges too. “It's this kind of dish that I love it because originally it was executed basically with trimmings or leftovers from salted cod at the Bacaladerías (Salt Cod Shops). I tend to love those dishes which don’t use premium cuts. “I would easily pair this with a wine called Can Sumoi, a dry white wine from Xarel.lo grapes, DO Penedes.”
Executive chef at Camino London, Nacho del Campo also gave away his secret tapas dish winner: “For me, a tapa that is under the radar but will be a great discovery for the summer is a gilda. The dish is made with little pickled chillies called piparras, anchovies from the Cantabrian Sea and olives (we use gordal ones in Camino). I love these little snacks from my motherland with a glass of txakoli or a glass from Tío Pepe en rama.
Owen Morgan, founder and owner at Bar 44 and the 44 Group, said he was transported back to nostalgic summers on the Iberian coastline when asked about his top summer tapas dish: “I have gone with a true favourite, that traditionally may not be summery, but you can really use as a blank canvas and get creative with in terms of real seasonality and top-level ingredients. “Asturias is the land of cheeses, great dairy produce, beautiful beef and stunning seafood. Its climate, coastline and countryside remind us very much of Wales and the Southwest of England. “Tortos – circles of cornmeal-based dough rolled out thinly and fried until crisp – are a classic snack from this region. They are often served with picadillo (chorizo mince) and a fried egg, or with anything Cabrales cheese related. Not particularly summery you may think. In our restaurants though we love to make the ‘torto dough’ throughout the year, cook them fresh to order and top them with stunning seasonal Spanish as well as local produce. We get creative and have some fun with it, but always with impeccable produce. “In spring and summer for example – top with local courgettes (as a raw sliced salad dressed in an Asturian cider vinegar), fresh Quesos y Besos goats’ cheese from Jaén, and garnished with Bona Mel organic mountain honey from the Cebollera Natural Park in Soria. “And for the best Spanish wine to pair with it, depending on the topping, with the courgette and goats’ cheese, I would go with a Ribeiro Godello or Treixadura.”
With sociable summer evenings finally just around the corner, tapas offer the ideal dining dishes with Spain’s top quality food products able to surprise and delight in equal measure. Perfectly partnered with one of Spain’s DO wines, which are incredibly varied offering red, white, rosé, and sparkling wines to suit any occasion – Spain has summer all wrapped up!