Gran Canarian food and cuisine mixes influences of different cultures. The basis is Spanish mixed with Guanches (aboriginal inhabitants of the islands), Latin American and African cuisine. A variety of vegetables, especially potatoes are used (with famous mojo sauce included).
Gran Canarian cuisine uses fresh products that have a special flavor due to the volcanic soil and a specific climate. Meat and fish usually features as part of a stew, and is incredibly fresh due to the abundance of fish in the seas. Locally produced specialties are chorizo sausage, cheese and honey. A stone-ground flour called gofio forms an essential part of the Canarian diet. If you like fish, the most typical regional recipes are caldo de pescado (fish soup) and sancocho Canario. Freshly grilled sardines are also popular. Take a look below for a list of our favorite Gran Canarian food and cuisine, with recipes!
Gofio flour is made from roasted grains, mainly wheat and some varieties of sweet corn. It became an important part of the Canarian cuisine due to it being rich in essential vitamins, fiber and proteins. Nowadays it is used to thicken soups and sauces and is often stirred into children’s milk. Gofio also forms the basis of mus de gofio (gofio mousse), a popular local dessert. The taste is mildly bitter with a specific aroma of roasted grains. It can be bought in any store in Canarias.
Papas arrugadas con mojo
Gran Canaria’s most famous food dish is papas arrugadas con mojo. Literally – wrinkled potatoes with a spicy red sauce. This popular plate is made of small Canarian potatoes cooked with a large amount of sea salt (they were originally cooked in a sea water) and served with a spicy red sauce.
- 1 kg of small, quick cooking potatoes, not pealed
- ¼ cup of sea salt
Wash the potatoes well and place them in a pot. Cover with the salt and add cold water. The water should not pass over the top of the potatoes. Put over the potatoes a clean dishcloth (will create a steam cooking effect and preserve salt evaporation). Boil the potatoes until ready (about 20 minutes). Pour off the water and rest the potatoes until dry. Serve with mojo sauce.
- 1 garlic (approx 8 cloves)
- 2 hot peppers o pimienta de puta madre
- 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon of paprika (sweet or hot)
- 20 ml of vinegar
- 150 ml of extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt to taste
The perfect way to make would be to prepare the sauce with mortar and pestle, but it can also be done with blender. Put together crushed garlic cloves, cumin, hot pepper and salt, grind to a smooth paste. Add olive oil, vinegar and paprika, mix. Add salt to taste, if needed.
Potaje de berros
Potajes are soups with vegetables and sometimes meat. Their ingredients can vary, all except one – berros (watercress) is a must have. This Gran Canarian food is rich of vitamins and minerals and has specific aroma due to berros.
- 400 g berros (watercress), chopped
- 2 corn cobs, split in two
- 4 potatoes, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2-3 zucchini, chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 peace of yam, chopped
- 300 g green beans in pod, chopped
- 400 g pumpkin, chopped
- 600 g pork ribs (optional)
- Food coloring
- Olive oil
- Gofio (optional)
In a pot put some oil, onions and carrots, stir. Add berros, paprika, food coloring and stir. Add green beans, pumpkin, corns, pork ribs, potatoes, yam and water to cover. Cook 5 minutes. Add zucchini and cook for 1h.
You can add some gofio directly in potaje, to thicken it. Or you can make pella de gofio, as a side dish by mixing gofio with liquid from potaje.
Ropavieja literally means ‘old clothes’,sounds odd, but the explanation is because leftovers from other dishes are used. On The Canary Islands, ropavieja is a very popular dish and will never have the same taste twice. The dish itself consists of chicken and beef meat mixed with potatoes and chickpeas.
- 500 g chickpeas
- 500 g bovine meat
- 500 g chicken meat
- 1 kg potatoes chopped in cubes
- 3 garlic cloves grinded or finely chopped
- 1 red pepper chopped
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 tomato chopped
- 2 dl cooking wine
- 2 dl water or bouillon
- Grounded black pepper
- Olive oil
- Optional: carrots and beans
Soak chickpeas night before cooking. Next day wash them and put in a pot together with meat, salt and water (to cover), cook. When stewed, drain and flake the meat into pieces.
Put oil in a pan, fry meat and chickpeas until crispy, put aside. Then, fry onion, pepper, peeled tomato and garlic, add black pepper and clove. In a cup mix paprika, thyme, laurel, wine and bouillon and add to the half fried vegetables, cook. Add meat and chickpeas and boil for a few minutes. Fry potatoes and add before serving.
The Canarian dish is made with fish cooked whole and served with sweet potato, gofio and papas arrugadas. It’s a simple and healthy plate. Adding mojo picón is an absolute must in order to taste the contrast between sweetness, spiciness and the touch of saltiness.
- 1 kg of salted fish (grouper, corvina, pompano)
- 700 g potatoes, cut in big pieces
- 400 g sweet potato, cut in peaces
- 2 onions
- Olive oil
Soak the fish for 24h, changing water every couple of hours throughout the process. Wash well and cut in big pieces. Heat water in a pot and when boiling add fish, parsley and onion and cook for 30 min. Remove from the heat and drain, preserving a liquid. Remove the parsley and onion. In the liquid add potatoes and sweet potato and cook on a medium heat. When almost ready, add fish and continue cooking till ready. Drain well and serve with mojo picon.
Additionally, you can make pella de gofio. Preserve cooking liquid and mix it with gofio. Serve as a side dish.
Bienmesabe literally means “tastes good to me”. This almond dessert is a traditional sweet in Gran Canaria and is usually served with ice cream or pancakes.
- 300 g grounded almonds
- 300 g sugar
- 300 ml water
- 5 egg yolks
- Lemon zest
- Cinnamon stick
In a pot cook sugar, water, lemon zest and cinnamon to obtain syrup. Remove lemon zest and cinnamon and add grounded almond. Cook on a moderate heat until golden. Whisk yolks apart and add it to the pot, stirring for a couple of minutes on a moderate heat. Let it cool down and it´s ready.
Mousse de gofio
- 600 ml whipping cream
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons Gofio
- 4 tablespoons sugar
Whisk egg whites to dense foam. Add whipping cream, Gofio, sugar and whisk. Additionally can be added cinnamon, grounded almonds or lemon zest. Put in a fridge for awhile.
You can serve it with bienmesabe.
And there you have it! Gran Canarian food and cuisine is beautifully varied, simple and often healthy, so why not give them a try yourself?