The region of Murcia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain, visited every year by millions of tourists from all over the globe. Its fame as a summer destination is internationally recognized.
We present some of the most representative dishes of this beautiful Spanish region, which you cannot miss out on to delight yourself with the flavours and smells of the succulent Murcian gastronomy. Today, we will talk about the Cauldron of the Mar Menor, a delicious typical dish that you should know.
Cauldron of the Mar Menor
This is undoubtedly one of the stars of Murcian gastronomy. The Cauldron of the Mar Menor is a dish whose tradition dates back centuries. Its origin lies in the fish and rice stews that the fishermen of the Mar Menor used to prepare on the beach.
Its name comes from the cauldron where it is cooked and served – a deep pot made of cast iron that the fishermen put on the fire, suspended on a tripod made of reeds, on the very shore of the sea. For its preparation, they used some of the fish that they had not been able to sell in the market that day
The fish most used in the preparation was the so-called rock fish or "trash fish", generally very spiny. A broth was made with it. Then, after the fish was discarded and the liquid was strained, the rice was cooked.
This ancient culinary tradition is preserved to this day with some variations, incorporating other ingredients and using different types of fish. Olive oil is an essential element in its preparation.
The sauce that serves as the base for the cauldron includes garlic, tomato, parsley and “ñora”, a variety of dried pepper from the area. This is one of the fundamental ingredients of this tasty dish, whose characteristics give it a very particular flavour.
Preparation of the Cauldron of the Mar Menor
The preparation of the Cauldron of the Mar Menor is slow and laborious. Thickly sliced fish is cooked in a mixture of “sofrito” and broth and then removed. Then, in the same broth, the rice will be cooked.
The rice must be cooked over very low heat and for a long time so that it acquires a characteristic soupy consistency. A touch of saffron gives it a characteristic orange colour.
When the rice is ready, it is served accompanied by slices of previously cooked fish. Everything is usually bathed with part of the broth used in the preparation.
A companion that should not be missing from the cauldron is the “aioli”, a thick sauce, similar to mayonnaise, made by macerating garlic and gradually adding olive oil.
The Cauldron of the Mar Menor is a substantial, aromatic and extremely tasty dish. It is part of the great tradition of rice dishes that are usually prepared in the Murcian region, known for the quality and variety of its grains. It is an emblematic dish of the region and the pride of its inhabitants, who usually recommend it especially to visitors, taking great care in its preparations and competing with each other in seasonings and tastes.
The quality of the ingredients used and the excellent species of fish and rice, together with a tradition and wisdom in its preparation that are unique in the region, guarantee an exquisite delicacy that tourists must taste.