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.
The pungent aroma of garlic makes its way into most Portuguese dishes. From thin raw slices to slow fried minced pieces, this keystone of Southern European cuisine is remarkably versatile in its use. This recipe takes garlic in its most sweet and nutty character to flavour a delicate creamy soup. The recipe is inspired by 18th century Portuguese techniques which provide substance and body to broths by using ground almonds. The ground almonds not only thicken the broth but provide extra flavour. Chia seeds are included as an optional ingredient of their superfood status and to add consistence and texture to the soup. This is a quick and simple yet sophisticated soup you can prepare while making the rest of your meal.
The legendary Portuguese sardines are known for their depth of flavour. Even in their canned state, these are little gems of Portuguese flavour. This recipe uses sardines to enhance a traditional salad of black eye beans, onion, parsley and olive oil.
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.
“Empadas” (pies) are a common snack in cafes all over Portugal and part of portuguese culinary tradition for centuries (royal chef Domingos Rodrigues dedicates 41 recipes to empadas in his “Arte de Cozinha” from 1680, the first Portuguese cookbook). Today, you are mostly likely to find them filled with chicken, roast piglet or perhaps salted cod. This is a recipe that takes advantage of the dense taste of pheasant to provide an absolutely moorish filing for this exquisite finger food. Shortcrust pastry is ideal for this as it is light enough to let the filling shine but you could experiment with puff pastry as well. Perfect as a snack, light lunch or for a picnic. Can be served hot or cold but much, much better hot out of the oven…
This extremely versatile milk product is delicious on its own, in salads, sauces and deserts with honey, pumpkin compote. Pictured here is a slice of requeijão dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Requeijão is a form of ricotta, and made out of sheep, cow or goat’s milk whey during the production of cheese. Made in baskets which give it its traditional shape and texture, requeijão is the result of compressing the coagulated whey into a creamy white paste.
This recipe is based on the Portuguese classic way of serving sapateira (crab), a defining presence in any seafood restaurant throughout the coast. As with any shellfish it must be bought alive. There is some intricate work involved and some of the tasks are admittedly not for the squeamish. The work is well worth it though as this presents the meatier parts of the crab in their natural state accompanied with a flavorful sauce made out of the smaller bits. If you live in a country with relatively cheap fresh crabs such as the UK or Ireland this can easily become a regular feature and you’ll soon get used to the cleaning routine! This way of serving crab is great as a starter to share and keeps for one day in the fridge.
This is a great way of preserving left over mussels cooked à Bulhão Pato or a Mariniere. The mussels marinate for one day in the fridge and are served cold in their shells. Delicious as an appetizer with fresh bread.
It is surprising that this south american way of serving fish is not common in Portugal. Fresh fish bought in the market or straight from fishermen is begging to be prepared like this! This is a light citrus marinade of raw fish which makes a tangy, light dish which makes an ideal starter for a richer fish dish or a main meat course. Ceviche is not worth considering unless you’re convinced the fish you’re using is absolutely fresh (i.e pre packed fillets do not qualify). You can ask your fish monger to de-bone/fillet a piece and you’re only left with thinly slicing or chopping it in small cubes. The photograph is a basic ceviche of “cherne” (a much appreciated large white fish in Portugal but constantly mistranslated – if you do know of a good equivalent in English, please let me know). It can be substituted by any meaty fish such as monkfish or tuna.