Understand Spanish menus ..   

On this page..........
Look for  :  Primeros platos / starters
Secundos platos / main courses Desserts

A short Spanish-English glossary of  essential food terms.  
Translations of the main expressions found on Spanish menus. Depending on the restaurant, some dishes shown below as "primeros platos" may (also) appear as "secondos platos", and vice-versa..
Note:  Jamon, litterally "ham" is an ingredient in many dishes. Jamon is normally cured ham (i.e. uncooked), not cooked ham. Cooked ham is commonly referred to as Jamon de York.

Primeros platos / first course

Look for  :  Soups (hot or cold)
Vegetable dishes Other dishes
Fish and seafood Descriptive terms


Gazpacho : classic cold tomato and cucumber soup

Salmorejo  : a delicious cold creamy tomato and almond soup

Sopa castillana : a tomato and vegetable soup with bread and sometimes an egg in it.

Sopa de....   Soup of...

Vegetable dishes (cold or hot)

Alcachofas : artichokes

Espárragos, or trigueros : Asparagus

Ensalada rusa : Russian salad (mayonnaise based)

Ensalada verde : Green salad (lettuce based) 

Ensalada de tomate y cebolla con huevo : Tomato and garlic salad, with egg

Fabada: white beans in tomato sauce with chorizo (hot)

Garbanzos : Chick peas

Guisantes con jamón : Green peas with ham

Judías verdes con jamón : Green beans with ham (hot)

Lentejas con chorizo : lentils with sausage

Setas : mushrooms

Other dishes:

Croquetas : Croquettes, rissoles

Embutidos : charcuterie, cold ham and sausages,

Espaguetis : Spagetti, pasta

Huevos : eggs

Jamon ibérico : the finest Spanish cured ham

Migas (extremeñas) : Croutons with pieces of chorizo

Paella : Paella (rice with pieces of meat or shellfish)

Tortilla : Spanish omelette

Fish dishes:

Gambas : prawns

Merluza : hake, whitefish

Pulpo : octopus

Descriptive adjectives / expressions:

Casero(s) /- a(s) : home made, "of the house"

Del dia : of the day

Revuelto(s) /- a(s) : scrambled, stirred, stir-fried

Salteado(s) /- a(s) : sautéd

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Secundos platos / Main courses :

Look for  :  Fish and seafood
Types of meat  Methods of preparation

a) Fish & seafood:

Atun : tuna fish

Bacalao : cod

Calamares : squid

Corvina, lubina : sea bass

Dorada :  sea bream

Espada : sword-fish

Merluza : hake, whitefish

Paella valenciana : Paella with fish and shellfish

Salmonete : red mullet

Trucha : trout

Salmón : salmon

b) Meat:

Cabrito : kid

Cerdo : pork

Conejo : rabbit

Cordero : lamb

Cordoniz : quail

Ternera, buey : beef

Pato : duck

Pollo: chicken

Perdiz: partridge

Venado : venison

Methods of serving ...

 ... and describing:
These terms can be applied to various meats or fish dishes.

A la plancha :  grilled

Albondigas de... :  Meatballs of

Asado : grilled, char-grilled, barbecued

Solomillo de...  Surloin

Empanado :  Breaded

Escalope de, Filete de  ...  Fillet of

Estofado (de)  : stew, stewed

Guiso de: stew

Ibérico : (pork cuts)  From top quality free-range animals

Lomo de... Loin of , tenderloin

Relleno de... : Stuffed

Con arroz : with rice

Con (su) guarnicon :  with garnish (vegetables and/or potatoes)

Con patatas : with potatoes

Desserts / Postres:

Arroz con leche : rice pudding

Flan : caramel custard

Frutas : Fruit

(Fresas : strawberries - manzanas: apples - narancas ; oranges - uvas: grapes)

Helados : ice cream

Natillas:  custard, blancmange

Queso : Cheese

Tarta de... : ... tart

And see also: Menu guide for France

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