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Glossary of Spanish Food Words

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Word or Term Definition
a la brasa charcoal grilled
a la marinera cooked with white wine, onions, and tomatoes
a la parilla broiled
a la plancha broiled on a hot surface, especially fish, shellfish, and meat
a la romana deep-fried in a light batter - especially calemares, hake or merluza
añadir add
aceite oil
aceite de oliva olive oil
aceite de oliva puro a processed neutral olive oil with a small amount virgin olive oil added for flavor. A basic olive oil for frying
aceite de oliva virgen extra quality cold pressed olive oil with an acidity level below .75 percent and a distinctive flavor
aceituna olive
acelga Swiss chard
adafina Sephardic dish similar to a cocido or stew.
aderezar / alinar to season or dress a salad
adobo pickling brine or marinade, usually made of oil, vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaves, and other spices
agridulce bittersweet, especially describing a type of Pimentón de la Vera
agrio sour or bitter
aguacate avocado
Aguardiente, also called orujo a potent Spanish liqueur used sparingly in cooking which is especially popular in Galicia. Similar to Italian grappa which has a lower alcohol content.
ahumado smoked
aioli or ali oli a Catalan sauce traditionally made from large amounts of fresh garlic, blended in a mortar and pestle with salt, olive oil, and optional lemon juice. Another variation includes egg yolk therby making the sauce similar to mayonnaise
ajo garlic
ajoarriero bacalao al ajoarriero, is a recipe from Navarra which includes a dish of salt cod with garlic
ajoblanco cold almond soup from Andalusia, often served with grapes
al ajillo fried with garlic, as in 'gambas al ajillo' - garlic shrimp
al horno roasted or baked in the oven
al pil-pil A Basque recipe for bacalao salt cod sauted slowly in oil with garlic. The gelatine under the skin of the fish combines with the oil to form a gelatine-like sauce
al vapor steamed
albóndiga meatball
albahaca sweet basil
albardilla batter
alboronia a summer vegetable combination similar to pesto - typical Andalucian cuisine
alcachofa artichoke
alcaparras capers
alimento(s) food
alino dressing, seasoning
almíbar syrup
almazara olive oil mill
almejas clams
almendras almonds
almuerzo brunch, hearty second breakfast
alta cocina haute cuisine
alubias beans grown for drying, can be white, red, or black
alubias negras black beans
alubias rojas kidney beans
anchoa anchovy
anise greenish-brown, licorice­flavored seeds used in Spanish cuisine. Anise is used in sweet and savory cooking, and to make anise liqueur.
aperitivo aperitif or an appetizer
apio celery
aplanar roll out
aplastar/aplanar flatten
arándano cranberry
arenque herring
arenque ahumado kipper
arroz rice
arroz a banda a saffron rice dish cooked in a paella pan, with a complex fish stock.
artesa flat-based, long wooden container for kneading bread, mixing meat for sausages, and similar tasks..
asado roast meat, roasted
asador steak house: roasting pan
atún tuna
atar tie
azúcar sugar
azúcar blanca de granulado muy fino finely granulated sugar
azúcar glace confectioner's sugar; icing sugar
azafrán the toasted stigmas of a purple crocus flower. Saffron adds a deep color and a unique pungent flavor to rice dishes. Because of the labor intensive process of harvesting the flowers, removing the stamens and toasting them it is the most expensive spice in the world. Most of the world's saffron comes from Spain, although less potent Iranian and Turkish saffron have been flooding the market under the guise of being from Spain. Economical "colorante" is a poor substitute, as it's actually turmeric, a different spice entirely.