TYPICALLY overshadowed by its more touristy neighbours Valencia and Andalucia, visitors to Murcia may be surprised to discover the wealth of regional gastronomic delights that can be found along this fertile stretch of Mediterranean coastline.
In fact for the second year in a row, Murcia has been nominated as the Spanish Capital of Gastronomy.
This is all down to the quality of Murcias ingredients. From fresh quality fruit and vegetables grown on the fertile lands of La Huerta de Murcia, to its own variety of Calasparra rice grown within its terraced paddy fields accompanied by copious amounts of delicious seafood, often pulled fresh from the Med that very morning.
The Olive Press takes a look at Murciano cuisine and highlights those dishes that you really won’t want to miss out on.
Pastel de Carne
This traditional dish used to be made across Spain in the medieval era however it practically vanished in the nineteenth century. Today Murcia is the only spot where you can enjoy an authentic pastel de carne. The pie uses filo pastry that is intricately fashioned into a pattern and is filled with egg, meat and chorizo. Visitors can find one at almost any bakery in town.
Named after the cauldron-like pan in which it is prepared, arroz caldero is a rice stew traditionally made by the fishermen at Mar Menor, who would use the fish that couldn’t sell at market. Ñoras (little dried peppers common in Murcia), garlic, tomatoes, saffron, and seafood from the Mar Menor are frequently used in the stew.
Zarangollo is a classic Murcian countryside dish that consists of scrambled eggs with courgette and onion and occasionally a few potatoes are added too. This dish is simple, delicious and easy to try your hand at at home
Beans are one of staple ingredients of the region, featuring in many dishes. Michirones is a tasty stew made with dried beans, meat, and a broth flavoured with ham bone. This is often served as an appetiser in restaurants.
Pulpo al Horno
This typical tapas dish from Murcia is made by baking a large octopus in the oven with garlic, bay leaf, onion and beer. Serve with a healthy squeeze of lemon and savour the juicy octopus meat with a satisfying crunch on the outside.
Often served as a starter, this simple but tasty salad is made with tomato, Cieza olives, onion, tuna and hard boiled egg. Many Murcian families have their own variations on this recipe, sometimes swapping out tuna for cod.
A marinera is a breadstick or a very thin piece of toasted bread which is then topped with russian salad (potato, tuna, and vegetables) and an anchovy resting on top. The local challenge is to try and scoff it up in three bites.
Named after its likeness to a horn this scrumptious dessert consists of a pastry cone filled with soft meringue which is toasted on the top. Perfect for those with a sweet tooth.
Pan de Calatrava
Calatrava bread pudding is one of the most popular Murcian desserts. It is a flan made with stale bread or sponge cake with caramel sauce poured on top.
A super traditional Murcian dessert is paparajotes, battered and fried lemon leaves along with ice cream. Just make sure to nibble the sweet dough casing and not the leaf itself!