Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category
A confit is simply a method of slow cooking in fat or oil. The great variety of high quality Portuguese olive oil is a great excuse to try a twist on the traditional salted cod. This recipe brings together three classic ingredients of Portuguese cuisine: bacalhau, garlic and olive oil.
Inspired by Bulhão Pato’s coriander, garlic and shellfish magic, this is a flavourful and delicious approach to serving fish filets. The make or break aspect of this is to get the right flavour balance in the shell fish stock. The method works equally well with fillets of bream or bass.
The archetypal Portuguese wet rice, flavoured by a rich prawn stock is a must in any coastal restaurant. The capacity for producing a perfect arroz de camarão can make or break a chef’s reputation.
As with most prawn and shrimp dishes, the secret is to extract as much flavour as possible from the shells and heads. To cook with shelled shrimp meat is no more than a allusive reference to the unique taste of this remarkable seafood. Frozen at sea prawns are the most practical way of guaranteeing good results as sourcing fresh prawns is usually rather tricky. This recipe achieves its richness and flavour through the preparation of a stock used to cook the rice. The same stock can be used as a basis for a prawn velouté soup (creme de camarão).
Algarve Squid/Lulas à Algarvia
The Algarve region in the south of Portugal is renowned for guaranteed good weather, high levels of tourism but also excellent sea food, especially if one avoids restaurants serving chips with everything… This is an extremely simple recipe for small squid which brings out their natural salty taste and soft texture. Like with all squid cooking, timing is everything!
Serve with simple boiled potatoes and greens.
Given the ubiquitousness of salted cod (bacalhau) in Portuguese cuisine, this blog has admittedly few references to it so on to the task of remedying that with a classic dish from the centre of Portugal (Beiras region) – Bacalhau à Lagareiro. Lagar is the portuguese term for olive oil press and lagareiro referring to the worker of the press. This recipe, not surprisingly, is very much about putting the best quality olive oil (azeite) at the centre of the dish. Together with flavourful garlic and “punched potatoes”, this is one of those simple combinations of flavours and textures that is characteristically Portuguese. As with most bacalhau recipes the cod needs to be soaked beforehand. Soaked cod freezes well so you can soak a larger batch and freeze individual tranches.
Squid is an incredibly versatile food. In this recipe tubes and tentacles are used in combination with chorizo and tomatoes to end up with a rich flavorful dish. The relatively long cooking time gives the squid a tender texture and enriches the tomato sauce. Great for a slightly chillier summer evening.
This is an excellent way of using the heat from the a nice charcoal barbecue to lend a smokey flavour and crispy texture to fresh squid. This recipe is a mix between grilled squid, commonly served in skewers (espetada de lulas) and octopus salad (salada de polvo).
This dish is common across the north of Portugal and uses the octopus to provide an intense flavoured stock in which to cook a moist risotto served with long crispy strips fried in a light batter. Octopus is normally boiled before it is used in a dish such as Polvo à Lagareiro in which the octopus is grilled to achieve a crispy texture on the outside while remaining soft on the inside. Since my post on Polvo à Lagareiro the number of tips on how to properly boil an octopus has increased yet again… My favourite is to hold the octopus by its head over a boiling pot of water and dip the end of the tentacles three times (about 10 cm into the water) then finally adding the whole octopus. This is done to achieve a nice curly finish at the end of the tentacles. My new preferred tip is to use an un peeled onion to provide a richer colour and a cork from a wine bottle…
Admittedly not for everyone, moray eel is a delicacy most common in the south of Portugal and is either bought fresh or dried. Here, small portions of eel are fried until crispy and served on a bed of a tomatoey bean stew…
The trick here is to briefly brine the eel. A fisherman’s wife would gently lick a piece of eel to check whether it is salty enough. Tasting the brine before you add the eel will do just as well…