Types of shellfish in Spain likely to be served as tapas
Eating shellfish types of tapas can be really adventurous if you don’t know what you are ordering. And the truth is that in Barcelona the best marisquerías and seafood restaurants offer a large variety of Spanish seafood that you absolutely should try.
When I walk my guests around the Boqueria Market, they are always amazed at how many different shellfish types do they sell, and they often mention they would be lost if they tried to order them. That’s why today we’ve created this easy guide of Spanish seafood so you can order safely next time you go to your favorite tapas bar.
This is our top list of shellfish:
Spanish mussels. Probably one of the most famous types of Spanish seafood. While French mussels are yellowish, Spanish ones tend to be orange (the color actually depends on the kind of algae they eat). The best way to taste all their flavor is eating them steamed. But don’t hesitate to try them if instead you are offered them cooked “a la marinera“: a light sauce made basically with onion, garlic, white wine, tomato and parsley. Yum!
Cockles. Known as “berberechos” in Spanish and “escopinyes” in Catalan. They are served canned without the shell in bars as an aperitif, sprinkled with lemon, red pepper and/or vinegar sauce. In seafood restaurants they are served with their shell, steamed or sautée.
Clams. “Almejas” in Spanish or “cloïsses” in Catalan. They are a bit bigger than cockles, and their shell is less curved and less rough. They can be served in many ways, but again the most popular one is “a la marinera“. They are common ingredients of paella and other Spanish seafood dish specialties.
Razor clams. In Spanish “navajas“, in Catalan “navalles“. Their shells are thin and fragile, and they can measure up to 23cm, although the most common size is 12 and 15cm (around 5 inches). These long and narrow clams, together with cockles, are some of the favorite canned Spanish seafood to order during the vermouth time. If you prefer them fresh, they are best grilled or sautée.
Tellins. Called “coquinas” in Spanish and “tellines” or “tellerines” in Catalan. You’ll recognize them for being small, flat and with a smooth surface. They are very common in the South of Catalonia, where they are protected inside the Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park. Order them sautée with chopped garlic and parsley, and pair them with a glass of white wine.
AND BONUS! Are you curious to know what’s the weirdest types of shellfish in Spain?
Barnacles. Would you ever have thought we ate them? Of course we don’t eat those that grow under boats, but the wild ones growing on the rocks of the Atlantic coast where the waves crash. Catching them is actually dangerous and you need to be licensed to do it, that’s why their price is similar to that of lobster (sometimes even higher). It is served boiled and you need to crack them to remove the skin and eat the inside, which has a delicate seawater flavor. In Spain they are called “percebes“.
So what about you? Head to the comments below and tells us: What’s your favorite type of Spanish seafood?