This traditional Portuguese way of preparing cuttle fish is common throughout the coast. Deceivingly simple, it’s a recipe that requires some skill in preparing the cuttlefish, cleaning them and keeping the ink to enrich an olive oil and garlic sauce. Why can’t we get them clean from the fish shop you may ask? It’s something you have to go through yourself to understand (and most fishmongers don’t like doing it and they won’t be subtle telling you how much they don’t like it). There are plenty of videos online on how to prepare the cuttle fish for grilling so I won’t go into this.
8 medium sized cuttle fish (with ink) 1 onion 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 cup of chopped coriander 1 lemon 3 cloves of garlic (peeled and thinly sliced) course sea salt serves four
Once the cuttle fish are clean open them in half, keeping the tentacles. Although you can grill them whole it is easier to do this flat on the griddle. Sprinkle with sea salt. Keep the ink to the side.
Grill on hot grid (charcoal preferably), make sure tentacles are well grilled and crispy.
While the cuttle fish is cooking make the dressing. Warm up the olive oil with the garlic to infuse then mix in the ink. Serve with the coriander and lemon. Great with boiled baby potatoes and some greens.
Atlantic mackerel (carapau) is by far the most popular variety of mackerel in Portugal. Its close cousin, the common mackerel (cavala) has been on the sidelines of Portuguese cooking for a number of years but is now enjoying a well deserved revival. Its health benefits together with unique taste and texture make this a prime choice for a fish meal. This recipe combines the strong taste of smoked mackerel with the sweetness of Rocha pears – the uniquely Portuguese pear variety created by the Rocha family in 1836 in Sintra.
Salted cod fritters are found everywhere in Portugal. You will encounter them in the most basic tascas (tavernas) and the poshest restaurant in Lisbon or Porto . This is a traditional way of using leftover bits of cod though this recipe offers a somewhat deluxe version with prime salted cod chunks fried in a light chick pea flour batter. With the chick pea (gram flour) replacing white flour and the olive oil replacing frying oil, this is as healthy as a fritter can get!
Portuguese families will not only revel on these wonderful snacks featuring our most precious salted fish but will also indulge in the quasi-omolette formed by frying the batter left over from coating the cod. There is inevitably a family member watching out for these…
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.
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.
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…
With barbecue season now completely established it’s time for matching a great way of cooking with delicious fresh ingredients. Monkfish Skewers are a common feature of any seaside restaurant in Portugal. They’re extremely easy to make and absolutely delicious served with a simple butter and lemon sauce. The one important thing to keep in mind with any mixed skewer is that all ingredients should be cut to more or less the same size to allow for even cooking.
Whole fish grilled over charcoal is a central focus for the 900 km of Portuguese coast. Simply prepared, seasoned with sea salt and grilled to perfection, one hardly needs anything other than a cold bottle of vinho verde! This recipe prepares the fish by opening it across the middle to allow for a larger grilled surface, hence maximising the charcoal flavour. This way of preparing fish makes it easier to grill just the right amount. As your dealing with a relatively thin piece of fish there is no danger of having a burnt skin and a raw middle! This also makes it easier to negotiate your way through the bones as they become more visible with the fish open in half.
Sea bass and other fish can be prepared in exactly the same way.
One of the popular 1001 bacalhau (salted cod) recipes, this is certainly on entry level as far as eating salted cod is concerned. The flavour of the cod infuses the creamy sauce which in the oven forms a delicious gratin crust. This dish uses flaked cod so you don’t need prime cuts however, the better the cod the better the dish. This recipe uses fried potatoes but these can be replaced by boiled potato cubes though it is important that the whole thing doesn’t turn into mash so stay away from floury potatoes!