Bacalhau (salted cod fish) is renowned for its versatility. Portugal’s obsession with this cured fish has produced, some say, more than 1000 variations. Bacalhau à Braz is certainly one of the classics. Created by Mr Bráz, owner of a tavern in Lisbon’s bohemian Bairro Alto, this dish combines shredded bacalhau with eggs to create a delicious snack or quick lunch. This recipe is a ‘low carb’ variation, substituting the traditional fried potatoes with grated carrots. This makes for a lighter, more colourful dish which still honours the magic combination of bacalhau, olive oil and garlic. Bacalhau must be soaked in cold water for 3 days (changing the water twice a day) before cooking. Alternatively you can buy already soaked cod in frozen packs. The original recipe asks for the cod to be boiled before shredding. I don’t find this necessary and I believe you get a better taste and texture from using it raw straight into the pan.
Vinha d’Alhos is an ancient Portuguese meat marinade based on wine (vinho) and garlic (alho) with aromatics such as bay leaves, thyme, cloves and dried chillies (piri-piri). The magic combination of red wine and garlic makes up for a truly Portuguese flavour which has travelled the word during the 15th and 16th Century “descobrimentos” and made it to India where it became the basis of the Vindaloo.
This recipe takes the traditional marinade to cook falling off the bone pork ribs and create a deep and flavourful sauce. The ribs are served with halved boiled potatoes with skin (batatas à racha) and sautéed kale.
We use kuzu, a Japanese flavourless gluten-free starch thickener which gives the sauce a rich velvety texture.
Apples play a big role in Portuguese cuisine and a discussion on our remarkable varieties like Bravo de Esmolfe or Reineta is for another post… This dessert is seen in restaurant menus across the country all over the colder autumn and winter months. It features the quintessential Portuguese mix of sugar and cinnamon and a dash of Port wine to turn apples into an exquisite (and healthy!) dessert. Please do not feel tempted to serve this with cream or ice-cream. The sweetness of the apple with the syrupy juices formed in the tray are just right…
Sardines are a big deal in Portugal. Together with bacalhau (salted cod), the sardine has become a symbol of Portuguese food and culture recognised around the world. A visitor to Portugal will not need to search much to see sardines on a menu, printed on t-shirts, made out porcelain, on designer goods etc…
Autumn in Portugal brings lots of goods, just when you think the plentiful summer has come to an end. With the colourful harvest of the vineyards arrive the chestnuts and the magustos, open air festivities celebrating the new wine with chestnuts roasted on a bonfire. Used as compliments to roast meats or as key ingredients in soups long before the potato was introduced from the new world, the chestnut is now a delicacy usually appreciated after a meal. This is the simplest and perhaps the most rewarding way of cooking chestnuts. While traditional roast chestnuts bring out a crispy and fluffy texture, boiling them brings out their unique sweet and nutty flavour.
Read about São Martinho, the chestnut day par excellence!
Caldo Verde is perhaps the most iconic of Portuguese soups. Originating from the north of the country, it has spread across Portugal and is traditionally served as a light first course to a grilled sardine feast. This recipe is a twist on the traditional and replaces potato with a mixture of cauliflower and avocado, making it healthier, low carb and absolutely delicious. The Caldo Verde identity relies not so much on the ingredients that provide sustenance and texture to the soup (traditionally potato) but rather on the extremely thinly of cutting green cabbage (couve galega) and the obligatory olive oil and chouriça. In the absence of the traditional couve galega, Caldo Verde can be made with very thinly sliced kale.