The best seafood in the world is produced in As Rías Baixas. By boat or on foot, the seamen and seawomen of the province of Pontevedra catch the fish and harvest the shellfish daily to sell them in the fish markets of the seaside towns, from the region of O Baixo Miño to O Salnés. Then they are taken to the fish markets, restaurants, canneries and are also sold at the big national and international markets. This daily activity has been significant for the economy of the province and has been part of its identity. In addition, its products bear the seal of quality Rías Baixas.
The traditional recipes have been passed down by families and restaurant owners from generation to generation. Although the quality of the raw material produced guarantees excellent dishes, the chefs have managed to combine the traditional cuisine with innovative dishes. In As Rías Baixas there is an extensive list of restaurants where signature dishes are prepared and served. Their menus include innovative recipes without losing the traditional essence and respect for the product .
Fish, bivalve molluscs, cephalopods, crustaceans and seaweed are some of the delicacies that are served daily in the restaurants of As Rías Baixas. What better place to taste these delicacies than As Rías Baixas? The seafood caught by the artisanal small-scale Galician fleet and harvested by the shellfish gatherers spend less than 24 hours outside the water until they are offered for sale . Apart from fresh, they can be bought frozen, processed (canned) or prepared (pre-cooked). In addition, the methods used for capturing them are eco-friendly.
The brand “PescadeRías, de onde se non?” is a mark of identity to promote the seafood caught by the artisanal small-scale Galician fleet . Its products are sold in the following markets in the province of Pontevedra:
A Guarda, A Illa de Arousa, Aldán-O Hío, Arcade-Soutomaior, Baiona; inshore fish markets of Vigo, Bueu, Cambados, Campelo-Poio, Cangas, Canido-Vigo, O Carril-Vilagarcía de Arousa, Marín; seafood market of Vigo, Meira-Moaña, O Grove, Panxón-Nigrán, Portonovo-Sanxenxo, Redondela, Vilaboa, Vilanova de Arousa, and Vilaxoán-Vilagarcía de Arousa
Rías Baixas boasts a wide variety of seafood of excellent quality. The Designation of Origin ‘Mexillón de Galici’a protects the mussels cultivated in a traditional way in the Galician rías (coastal inlets). Up to 3,000 bateas (floating wooden structures with ropes) are present in the rías, and two thirds of them in the Ría de Arousa, the main production centre.
Clams and oysters are other great bivalve delicacies. Different varieties of clams can be tasted (among them, pullet carpet shell, Japanese carpet shell and grooved carpet shell) throughout As Rías Baixas, although the ones from O Carril (Vilagarcía de Arousa) are particularly famous. Oysters are cultivated mainly at the seabed of the Ría de Vigo, in the place of Arcade (Soutomaior). Variegated scallops, scallops, queen scallops, razor shells and cockles are also highly appreciated molluscs that can be found in the restaurants of the province.
Goose barnacles, shrimps, prawns, spider crabs, lobsters, lobsters, brown crabs and small crabs are part of the exclusive list of seafood in As Rías Baixas. Shellfish gatherers extract molluscs and crustaceans in various ways: on foot, on the shores at low tide, and on the rocks; afloat, by boat; scuba diving and in the bateas, in the case of mussels.
All of them, just like the previous ones, are high quality products that can be tasted in dozens of festivals, many of them of Tourist Interest. The Festa do Marisco (Seafood Festival) in O Grove, of National Tourist Interest, is the most famous. Other examples worth mentioning are the Lobster Festival, in A Guarda; the Scallop Festival, in Cambados; the Mussel Festival and Cockle Festival, in Vilanova de Arousa; the Clam Festival, in O Carril; and many more.
The sea urchin is also abundant in As Rías Baixas. Its pure sea flavour makes it a titbit that can not only be tasted in the province but is also highly appreciated in other countries.
The renowned fish from As Rías Baixas is part of the menu of every restaurant. The small-scale fleets of the fishing towns capture many varieties of fish such as sole, turbot, sea bass, hake, grouper, monkfish, sardine, red mullet, white bream, cuttlefish, plaice, ray, red porgy, mackerel or sea bass . You can find them in the markets of the province and in the restaurants of any town.
The inshore boats, which fish in the inlets and usually near the coast, use different methods depending on the species. Gillnetting, seine fishing or trawling are some of them. Very early in the morning, fishers depart and return hours later in order to sell their catches in the fish market.
Cephalopods , very tasty and part of the cuisine of the province, abound in the inlets. Octopus, traditionally cooked in the Galician style, is highly appreciated and can be tasted in different ways. Cuttlefish and squid are other high-quality species deep-rooted in As Rías Baixas.
In addition, the province has three big ports of General Interest (Vigo, Marín and Vilagarcía de Arousa) and also some important others where offshore captures are unloaded, thus increasing the seafood offer. The port of Vigo is considered the biggest port of fresh fishing in the world and has a bustling market since early in the morning.
In the last years, edible seaweeds have been incorporated to the Rías Baixas cuisine. Some of varieties that can be found in As Rías Baixas are Nori, wakame, Codium, sea noodle ( Nemalion helminthoides), k0mbu or sea lettuce. They have a peculiar flavour, a high content of mineral salts and purifying properties.
The fish-salting and canning factories
The canning sector has been very important in As Rías Baixas, with a large tradition since the 18th century. Actually, the province of Pontevedra has been one of the hallmarks for this industry. The old factory of Massó in Cangas, the biggest in Europe in its heyday, and the one of Goday, in A Illa de Arousa, the first one that became industrialized in Galicia, have been among the most noteworthy canning factories in the Galician history.
The factory of Massó has been abandoned since its closing, but its impressive building is still part of the landscape of the town of Cangas. It is worth visiting the Massó Museum in order to learn about the Massó family and its factory. It is located in the neighbouring town of Bueu, where this family owned part of its facilities. The former factory of Goday now houses an interpretation centre called `Centro de Interpretación da Conserva’.
The factories of Alfageme and Curbera are other historical examples of this activity in the province of Pontevedra.
The tradition of canning marine food date back to ancient times. The settlement of A Lanzada (Sanxenxo), by the sea, used to house a fish salting factory. The centre Salinae, in Vigo, is the perfect place to discover the history of this industry. There, it is located the only preserved solar evaporation salt mine dating from the Roman Empire.
The salt mines of Ulló, in the town of Vilaboa, are also worth visiting. They were created by the Jesuits in the 17th century and are situated in a beautiful natural spot, perfect to spend some leisure time.