Vieiras, the Galician way |
There are 2 things that immediately make you think of the Camino when you see them: flechas amarillas (yellow arrows) and conchas de vieira (scallop shells). They are the most recognisable symbols of the Camino and the ones you start noticing everywhere once you decide to do a Camino.
Yellow arrows on the Camino are a recent development (keep reading to learn more about them). But scallop shells have always been a symbol of the Camino. They say that pilgrims who reached Santiago were given one as proof that they had completed their pilgrimage and also to differentiate those on their way to Santiago from those on their way back home (remember, back in the day pilgrims had to walk from home and back).
The use of the scallop shell as a symbol of the Camino is documented since the beginnings of the pilgrimage to Santiago and there are several theories as to why it is a scallop shell and not something else. But that’s not what we’re discussing here today.
Scallops are also one of Galicia’s signature dishes. But, unlike the humble caldo gallego and pimientos de Padrón, vieiras are eaten on special occasions. And they are usually always prepared the same way, the Galician way. Let’s learn how to do it.
How to prepare vieiras, the Galician way
Disclaimer: I’ll tell you the way we always prepare vieiras in my family. Many of the recipes I’ve found online include ham and a small amount of tomato sauce. We don’t use those 2 ingredients but feel free to add them if you wish.
So, what do you need?
Of course, you’ll need vieiras (scallops), plus the shells to present them. We normally calculate 2 vieiras per person.
Let’s say you’re preparing 8 scallops. You’ll also need 2 medium cebollas (onions), 200 ml vino blanco (white wine), a teaspoon of pimentón (paprika), pan rallado (breadcrumbs), aceite (oil, preferably olive oil) and sal (salt).
And how do you prepare them?
Depending on what kind of scallops you get, you may have to do different things, like opening them or not. In any case, you need to make sure both your scallops and shells are clean.
Chop the onions finely and cook them over a medium heat in a frying pan with some olive oil.
Add the paprika and the wine and mix well. Season to taste. I like to add the scallops too and let them cook in this sauce for a couple of minutes (see picture on the left).
Organise the shells on an oven tray. Put one scallop on each shell and distribute the sauce evenly among them (see picture on the right).
Then, cover the scallops with some breadcrumbs and put them in a hot oven until they look golden.
And you have your vieiras, the Galician way, ready to eat! Easy, right? Yet still delicious.
Are you going to give them a try?
Las flechas amarillas
As promised, here’s more on the popular yellow arrows that show us the way. By the 20th century, the Camino the Santiago had almost disappeared into oblivion; the routes were not signposted and some stretches were not even passable.
D. Elías Valiña (1929-1989), párroco (parish priest) of O Cebreiro, was always very interested in the Camino and wanted to revive this ancient pilgrimage route, the Camino Francés in particular. He had a vision to bring the Camino back to its former glory and managed to convince other people (local authorities, other priests, Camino associations) to get involved.
Apparently, D. Elías travelled across Spain, from Roncesvalles, stopping to paint yellow arrows where he thought pilgrims might get lost. One of the stories about why he chose that yellow colour for the arrows is because he was able to purchase some yellow paint that had been left over from road words at a discounted price.
Today’s words of Spanish for the Camino