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The beginner’s guide to tapas


Tapas bars and restaurants are carving out a niche in the nightlife of many Asian cities. Originating from Spain, these small but delicious dishes are usually served up to accompany drinks.

To the newcomer however, the sheer variety of tapas dishes on offer – many of them with Spanish names – can be a little daunting. Here are some basics to get you prepared for your next tapas experience.

What is tapas?

Tapas are traditionally small plates of food meant to accompany drinks. The size of the dish, not what’s in it, qualifies it as a tapa.

By topsynette

Each bar and region has its own tapas specialties.

Tapas are usually eaten before lunch or dinner to keep the person going till the next meal. These nibbles are meant to be shared with company, so a wide variety can be sampled at once. This makes tapas ideal food not just for nights out at the bar, but for entertaining guests at home.

What are some common tapas dishes?

There isn’t really a dish called tapa. You’ll find that every bar and region will have their own set of specialties. They can range from light nibbles like olives to hearty dishes like rabbit stew, depending on the diner’s appetite.

Some tapas may be called banderillas or pintxos, and have a toothpick to keep the food in place. Pintxos differ from banderillas in that there is usually a slice of bread forming a base upon which the ingredients are placed.

By agirregabiria
Pintxos are tapas that are held together by toothpicks and uses a slice of bread as a base.


With appliances like the Electrolux Brio hob that features a Perforated Diffuser offering precise heat control together with an even and stable flame, you can fry, boil and simmer your way to restaurant-level tapas at home. Here are some common tapas dishes that can be found in many tapas bars – and are easy to prepare at home too.

Boquerones: fresh anchovies marinated in vinegar, seasoned with garlic and parsley

Calamares a la romana: fried calamari

Chorizo a la sidra: chorizo sausage cooked in cider

Gambas al ajillo: fried prawns with garlic

Patatas bravas: fried potatoes with spicy sauce

Pimientos de Padrón: small green pepers fried in olive oil

Pulpo a la gallega: boiled octopus seasoned with olive oil paprika powder

What if I need something more filling?

If there’s a particular tapas dish that you’ve really enjoyed, you can ask for a racion (portion) or plato (plate) instead of a tapa. These are usually double the portion served in a tapa. Ordering a plato may also come in useful when eating with a large group.

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