This blog post was originally posted on March 5, 2015, and was updated on October 11, 2017.
Dreaming of that perfect Spanish kitchen? Make sure you stock it with the essentials!
Spanish cuisine is based on simple, fresh ingredients, some of its best signature dishes employing something as basic as an egg and making a culinary masterpiece out of it. But of course, no Spanish cocina would be complete without some staple kitchenware items, from traditional utensils that pass through the generations to modern appliances that have become a must while cooking.
Mortar and Pestle
One of the most rudimentary utensils out there, the mortar and pestle hold an important place in the Spanish kitchen. So many dishes start here, and it’s really where the flavor begins. Known as the almirez or mortero in Spanish, it can come in many shapes and sizes and made with different materials, from olive wood to brass.
Different regions use it for different things, such as romesco sauce in Catalonia or ajo blanco in Andalusia. Even today, despite the presence of electric mixers and the like, most would agree that nothing can get the job done quite like the mortar and pestle.
Everyone in Spain has one of these, therefore, so should every Spanish kitchen! How else are you going to make a mess-free gazpacho on a daily basis during the summer? Furthermore, even those who don’t have the first notion about cooking have one of these guys in their kitchen.
Cazuelas, the terracotta ramekins so typical of Spain, could, by and large, be the most versatile piece of equipment in your kitchen. Use them in the oven, directly on the gas burner, or even on the barbecue. We use them to make anything from chili garlic gambas to a heavenly dessert of crema catalana.
The earthenware holds a slow and steady heat, allowing food to cook thoroughly and evenly. They come in a variety of sizes but will always be shallow. They also have that rustic look of unglazed, porous clay on the outside. Stack them up and use them often!
Did you know that the famous rice dish of Spain is actually named after the recipient in which it’s made, the paella? In Catalan, the word paella literally means frying pan? Many Spanish kitchens will have various sized paelleras hanging up and oiled, ready for their next use. Because there are so many different rice dishes in Spain, unless it’s made in a paellera, it’s not actually a paella!
Local’s Tip: Of course, if you would like to take a trip to enjoy a delicious authentic paella—cooked for you, have a look at this great video for some top tips to enjoy the most authentic one around.
What kitchen, no matter the nationality, doesn’t have a pressure cooker? This is one of man’s greatest modern inventions, speaking in culinary terms at least! In Spain, the pressure cooker gets a good amount of use for anything from traditional stews to Spanish lentejas.
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