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Picada (Catalan pronunciation: [piˈkaðə]) is one of the characteristic sauces and culinary techniques essential to Spanish cuisine. The technique is typically found in the Spanish region of Catalonia and Valencia and subsequently Catalan cuisine and Valencian cuisine. It is not an autonomous sauce like mayonnaise or romesco, but it is added as a seasoning during the cooking of a recipe.
Often the preparation of a concoction begins with another essential sauce, like the sofregit, and ends with the final adding of the picada some minutes before the cooking termination. Picada is used to blend and thicken juices, to provide an excellent finishing touch to a multitude of recipes: meats, fish, rice, soups, legumes, vegetables. There are many variants for the rest of ingredients. The most common ones are garlic (so often it is considered almost essential), saffron (considered essential too by many cooks), and / or parsley (yet another regular appearance too). Other possible ingredients used more rarely are cinnamon, cooked liver (of chicken or rabbit), chocolate, cummin, herbs and other spices.
The picada is prepared in the mortar and must contain a basic triad: almond, bread and some liquid. Almonds are toasted and can be replaced by another nut like hazelnut, pinenut, walnut, or some combination of those. Hard, dry bread is crushed in the mortar, that is, toasted or stale, or bread crust, or fried in oil on the pan, or even some sort of sweet biscuit or cookie. The liquid used is usually the cooking juice but stock or hot water can be used as well.
Historical background and in other countries
Historically, picada of almonds is documented in Catalan cuisine from its very beginning. It is already present in the oldest medieval treatises. Other neighboring Mediterranean cuisines, as Occitan or Italian ones have essentially similar sauces such as pesto.
In Argentina "Picada" is a presentation of cold cuts such as ham, cured ham, pepperoni, sausages, Pates; several types of cheeses such as blue cheese, pecorino, parmiggiano and more. Normally served with dips, bread, olives and nuts.
- Colman Andrews, Catalan cuisine: vivid flavors from Spain's Mediterranean coast
- Jaume Fàbrega, La Cuina Gironina, Barcelona, 1985. Graffiti Ed., ISBN 84-7222-748-0
- Jaume Fàbrega, La Cuina Catalana II: Per cuinar i acompanyar, Barcelona, 1995. Ed. La Magrana, ISBN 84-7410-806-3
- Josep Lladonosa i Giro, El llibre dels guisats i les picades, Barcelona, 2003, Ed. Empúries, ISBN 84-7596-474-5
- Ramon Parellada Garrell, El llibre de les picades, Barcelona, 2007, Ed. RBA, ISBN 84-7871-856-7