Pa amb oli is one of the most traditional dishes in Mallorca. A simple recipe made of essential ingredients of the Mediterranean diet, but still delicious. Many palates enjoy this culinary preparation at home, but it’s also easy to find throughout the island.
Whether as a starter in a bar or as a main dish in a restaurant, pa amb oli has won the hearts of many diners. And for this reason, we want to pay tribute to it, explaining what exactly pa amb oli consists of and how it can be prepared.
So, which is the secret to making pa amb oli?
- The basis of a good pa amb oli.
- The best way to top it.
- Where to try it in Palma.
1. The basis of a good pa amb oli.
If you know the Mediterranean diet, you will surely know that bread has always been one of its most essential foods. In many homes, a long fermentation of the dough used to be carried out, which allowed the product to be preserved for a longer time and that way to fill the stomachs of the peasants who spent long days in the field.
At that time, the best way to top this homemade bread was a source of protein, whether it was cheese, meat, fish or eggs along with what undoubtedly enhanced any of these flavours, the extra virgin olive oil, our liquid gold. And this is how bread with oil became one of the gastronomic pillars of many corners of Spain, where today it’s possible to find this recipe with a different name and made of the local traditional bread.
Thus, by definition, pa amb oli is also ‘bread with oil’ but as expected, to make our version not just any bread or any oil is suitable. To get the best base of this Mallorcan dish, we have to use slices of our best peasant bread, which in Mallorca we know as pan moreno, as well as a high-quality extra virgin olive oil that, in general, is the key ingredient to the success of Mediterranean recipes.
However, pa amb oli is a traditional dish that has a lot more to offer. One of the keys to its success is due to how this base is complemented, that is, how this bread with oil is paired with something else. Generally, the ramallet tomato is one of the star products that we use, rubbed on the slice of bread to provide a delicious Mediterranean flavour. But, there are multiple options with which to enjoy this delicious dish:
2. The best way to top it.
In addition to ramallet tomato, we usually add one or two nutritional elements to pa amb oli. At the tables of many homes where family and friends gather, it’s traditional to see a selection of cold meats such as Iberian ham, tenderloin, salchichón, Mallorcan sobrasada, chorizo and various cheeses as special as Mahon cheese.
Grilled sardines, tuna or cuttlefish are other possible additions for fish and seafood lovers. And as with most bread preparations, it’s possible to toast it to get a crunchy bite. In addition, pa amb oli should be served with Mallorcan olives and for those who prefer it, there is only always the option of adding vegetables and a side-dish salad. Whatever the accompaniment, this recipe will be delicious if we remember that the secret lies in choosing the best bread and extra virgin olive oil, especially if it’s from Mallorca.
3. Where to try it in Palma.
As we have mentioned, pa amb oli is a traditional recipe that can be found in most bars and restaurants where Mallorcan cuisine is honoured. However, since we know that many gastronomy lovers will stroll through the streets of Palma, our capital, we have selected three places to try pa amb oli that will satisfy even the most demanding palates:
A classic place where they exist, Café Barroco has always offered a spectacular variety to accompany this traditional recipe. Mahon cheese, Iberian ham,sobrasada and other typical cold meats have been the best flavours with which pa amb oli has been served in this place.
In addition, olives, chilli peppers and othertrampó vegetables have been the differentiating element of their pa amb oli dishes. The one you choose will delight your palate and completely satisfy your appetite. It’s worth mentioning that the portions are generous, so you can share and leave room to taste the traditional homemade desserts that are also served in this cafe.
Winner of the 1st World Championship of Pà amb Oli thanks to a recipe for pa amb oli with cod, roasted peppers and sweet tomato sauce, Es Llogaret is a place where you can taste the most daring flavours of this dish. Far from being conservative, in this place, it’s possible to try sophisticated specialities that perfectly complement Mallorcan bread with its extra virgin olive oil while captivating diners.
In Es Llogaret they have been able to experiment with explosive combinations of pa amb oli such as cuttlefish with sobrasada and honey, veal with ginger and caramelized onion, monkfish with seafood sauce, red tuna with chives sauce among others… There is no doubt that its rule of not including more than five ingredients per recipe has led to excellence, in an area as privileged as S’Escorxador.
Blat al Sac.
In the pedestrian street of Blanquerna, full of restaurants and bars that can be the delight of lovers of Mediterranean cuisine, we find Blat al Sac, a restaurant that surprises diners with fusion flavours and that was the second prize of the 1st World Championship of Pà amb Oli with its recipe of cod with squid ink muslin.
With its options for all types of diet, in this place they promise to offer good service and gastronomic recipes of pa amb oli that go beyond the original cold dish, incorporating elements that combine perfectly in hot and warm elaborations and which are inspired by some other countries’ gastronomy.