Home-grown vegetables, reared meats, daily caught fish - Ibiza has it all
There is nothing easier, or more comforting for that matter, than going to your favourite restaurant and ordering the same dish time after time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but while on holiday we urge you to be slightly more adventurous when it comes to dining out on Spanish cuisine. That age old saying "you are what you eat" always brings a smile to my lips - why on earth would anyone want to be a sobrasada? Reading about how this traditional spiced sausage is made is enough to put anyone off, especially if given a description of the slaughtering of the pig at the matanza! So understandably no-one would want to call themselves a sobrasada at first glance, but after trying this delicious cured pork sausage, you may feel a little differently.
Able to be made spicy or mild, hot or cold, sobrasada is a typical Spanish meat with a broad flavour. Made by mixing ground pork and fat with pigs blood and a healthy splash of spices like paprika and cayenne pepper, the sausage is then strung up and dried in cases made of pig intestines. As they dry, the sobrasada is revealed to be a dark red - a staining from the blood - and one bite exposes how the deep flavour of this succulent meat has become infused with the zest of the spices. Is your mouth watering yet? Try adding it to your usual meals to make them more exciting -It even makes a particularly good topping for toast!
If I’ve convinced you that being a sobrasada for a while isn’t such a bad thing, how about trying some other Ibizan options in your meals at home before coming to try the real thing:
The Spanish are famous for drinking carajillos and smoking Ducados at 6am at the bar on the corner on their way to work - it could be said that the reason they are able to do this is because of the large amount of garlic they consume in almost every meal.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic that bacteria in the body has not evolved a resistance to; it relaxes blood vessels, increasing blood flow and reducing the risk of heart disease, as well as being an antioxidant.
Alioli is a garlic based mayonnaise used to "keep the customer quiet while the kitchen staff prepare the meal in the true Ibiza, laid back mañana way". It is served with bread and usually comes with olives grown right here on the island. There are a few different recipes, but simple olive oil, garlic & a pinch of salt recipe works best. Highly recommended and utterly delicious, alioli does however cause 3 minor problems:
1. It is served before the meal and you would have to be built solely of will power to be able to resist it, which means that by the time the meal arrives, between the vino and the bread & alioli, you’re going to be full.
2. This delightful mix, whilst causing you to be full, will also give you horrendous breath for the rest of the day.
3. But worst of all, it will not deter the approaches of the local men who are so used to it that they don’t even notice! Saying that, this may be a good thing depending on what sort of holiday you are hoping for!
How To Make:
The simplest way to make alioli is to peel a garlic clove, put it in a blender and carefully pour in the oil whilst still blending. The mixture will gradually thicken into a whitish/yellow substance similar to mayonnaise. Add salt and a squeeze of lemon juice to taste.
This may take a few practices to perfect, but once you get the hang of it, it’s the easiest thing in the world to make!
Frito de Pulpo
Tapas– tasters or small dishes - are perfect for quieting little hunger pangs and killing time. Many bars and restaurants have tapas available, usually in display fridges to give you more of an idea of what you are about to eat. Frito de pulpo is a popular dish, even though it may not look too tempting: it’s of pieces of octopus fried up with chunks of potatoes, red peppers, onion and garlic. As the name suggests, it is far too greasy but very tasty. The Cosmi Bar in Santa Eulalia serves a very good frito de pulpo but it is on the menu at most Spanish restaurants.
Par boil the potatoes and fry them. Then in a separate frying pan, lightly brown the onion and whole cloves of garlic. Add in some chopped peppers, chilli peppers and octopus then season. Mix it all together, add seasoning - ¡y listo!
Bullit de Peix
Bullit de Peix is easy to make but oh so good! It is really just fish & chips, but in the Ibiza style. Large chunks of potatoes and fish seasoned with fresh vegetables and of course some garlic, all cooked together. It may not sound like much but wait until you taste it! You can have this dish at almost any Spanish restaurant or tapas bar but for a truly authentic experience, we suggest Es Faralló on the road to Es Canar.
In a pan, heat some olive oil, fry up onions with chopped tomatoes & bay leaves and put in large chunks of potatoes. Add water. Just before the potatoes are cooked, add big pieces of fish then finely chop garlic & parsley, mixing them together and adding to the pan. Add saffron, salt and pepper to taste.
Pronounced pa-eh-ya (not pai-yella), paella is a bright yellow dish made up mostly of rice. It is yellow due to its saffron flavouring and is generally made with both meat and fish – although vegetarian, all meat or all fish options are available. This dish is especially good for large groups as it is made in a big pan and very rarely in individual portions. The actual making of the paella is an event in itself and definitely worth watching if you get the chance. There are quite a few places that have cooking shows, El Puntal in Santa Eulalia is a fantastic example. Many typical Spanish restaurants serve a plate of paella as the main course of a menú del día, so there is always the option to try it even if you’re alone. So what goes into paella apart from rice, meat & fish? Good question: everything from tomatoes & peppers to liver and prawns make up this tasty dish, best served with a side order of salad, bread & alioli.
There are many different ways to make this dish, but all you have to do is make sure your stock is tasty to get good results. Traditionally paella is cooked on a fire out in the open, but they work just as well on a gas ring and the paella pan, although specific, comes in all sizes. Fry up whatever meats o fish you have chosen first. After removing them from the pan then fry up the rest of the ingredients: vegetables like onions and red peppers, with parsley, garlic and a meat or vegetable stock with pre-made chopped tomatoes. Put the meat back in and then add the white rice & saffron. When the rice is done, the paella is ready!
Most dishes made here on the island are so delicious because of the fresh ingredients that are used in them. Whether that’s home-grown vegetables, reared meats or daily caught fish, Ibiza has it all – and if you are what you eat, it’s time that you tried the best. Now that you know, come and try some of our local cuisine and, by all means, tell us what you think!