Image credit: Spain Tourism

Although they share different names such as piqueos, pintxos or tapas according to the region they originate from, these small plates have a few things in common: they represent an important part of the Spanish culinary culture and have finally received the recognition they deserve. This year, Spain has declared that the third Thursday in June will be World Tapas Day — and the inaugural celebration takes place 16th June.

From luscious prawns cooked in garlic and chilli sauce to impeccably-cured meats such as jamón ibérico, Quotient invites you to tuck into some classic mouthwatering tapas in Spain!

Patatas bravas

These crisp potatoes blanketed in tomato sauce and mayonnaise are Spain’s stopgap to a late-night dinner. Image credit: CC BY 2.0 (Krista, 2009)

Patatas bravas
Easily the most recognisable of all tapas, the oft-ordered patatas bravas may seem ordinary at first but they actually hold a high place in the local gastronomic lore attracting everyone from foodies to professional chefs.

Their secret lies in the way they are cooked: thickly cut and fried-to-perfection cubes of potatoes piled high, crunchy on the outside, mellow on the inside, spud in tomato sauce and topped off with delicious allioli sauce — this classic delicacy will easily have you hooked. Although it originates from Madrid and you can find it in eateries throughout the country, the best cities to get it are Barcelona and Zaragoza.

Gambas al ajillo

Gambas al ajillo is a typical tapa that can also be served as a main. Image credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 (stu_spivack, 2014)

Gambas al ajillo
Gambas al ajillo are fresh prawns cooked in sizzling olive oil with garlic and chilli peppers and served in a cazuela or ramekin. Usually, the shrimp comes piping hot and is served with a side of crusty bread.

Jamon iberico display

Restaurants and shops around Spain are known for their displays of jamón ibérico. Image credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 (Adam Jones, 2010)

Jamón ibérico
Ibérico pigs are native to Spain and make the most delectable and finest ham in the world, cured in salt and hung to absorb the mountain air in a process that takes anywhere from 2 to 35 years! The most desirable meat comes from Ibérico pigs maintained on a strictly acorn diet, referred to as jamón ibérico de bellota.

As the most revered cured meat in Spain, jamón ibérico has a unparalleled crisp, nutty flavour. To sample different types of jamón ibérico and learn more about the curing process, you can check out the Jamón Ibérico Museum located right off Las Ramblas in Barcelona.

Croquetas

Croquetas are breadcrumbed and fried rolls bound with bechamel sauce or mashed potatoes. Image credit: CC BY 2.0 (Jonathan Pincas, 2012)

Croquetas
Spain’s elegant answer to the French croquette definitely reaches perfection in the hands of chefs all around the country. Made of thick béchamel, flecks of Serrano ham and coated in crumbs and deep fried, these delicious bites are addictive in any eatery you pop into.

Gazpacho
Known as Andalusia’s trademark, gazpacho is more of a drink than a soup, and is served in frosted glasses or chilled tumblers. It is the perfect dish to dig into when the weather is too hot and you simply need a refreshing meal!

Gazpacho, Taberna La Carmencita, Madrid

Originally from Andalusia, gazpacho is a cold, refreshing soup perfect for hot summer months. Image credit: CC BY-ND 2.0 (James Blick, 2013)