What you have to try in Portugal
Originally published at www.traveltipssharing.com on January 13, 2017.
Portuguese traditional food carries all the aspects that categorize the Mediterranean food: seafood, meat, salad, olive oil, bread and cheese. It doesn’t mean, anyway, that Portuguese gastronomy limits to these ingredients.
Historically influenced by hundreds of cultures, since the Arabic dominion until 1145 and afterwards with the maritime exploring around the world, Portuguese culinary imported spices, vegetables and gastronomic practices from the people who they traded.
To salt the bacalhau (codfish), for example, is a practice learned with the Carthaginians to preserve the meat in the lack of fridge during the Medieval times. More details about seafood you can find going down this post.
Pork is the most consumed meat in Portugal, so we can also talk of roast suckling pig on spit (Leitao), pork pata negra (preto porco), pig’s feet with pilantros (Pezinhos of Coentrada), and also pork sausages like chouriço or mourcela (spicy, salty or smoked), the alheira (more typical of the northern region of Portugal).
And back in the old times, all parts of the animals used to be eaten, which still remains present in Portuguese gastronomy, for example, as the Dobrada.
Porco à alentejana: Combines pork and clams with pepper, potato and coriander. As the name indicates, it’s original from Alentejo region.
Dobrada: This is a dish made on the basis of parts of the stomach of cattle and is popular in the north (Tripe Porto). Serve with white beans.
Favas à portuguesa: combines broad beans with sausage and chopped pork ribs. It’s part of Lisboan culinary identity.
Iscas: pork liver sauteed with garlic and white wine called “Isca com elas” sometimes finds a version with onion. Usually served with fries or baked potato.
Moelas: Typical Portuguese delicacy and that has at its base a stew of onions and tomatoes, to which are added the chicken gizzards and duck.
Torresmos: The torresmo is made by pigskin base with fat cut into small pieces and fry until crisp. But before that could be just a snack enjoyed in taverns, today is a trendy food much appreciated by athletes as a new source of protein election.
Chouriço assado: It works or as “first meal” before the arrival of the beam of sardines, or as a meal together with a bowl-Green broth. Serve with slices of bread.
Bifanas: It is always the alternative for those who do not enjoy grilled sardines. Bifanas are the salvation of the night for when hunger comes and no tasquinha not roasted pork fillets is open, with mustard to accompany.
Sandes de courato: the courato is the thick skin of grilled pork on the grill. It is a snack which can also be found in more traditional markets.
Seafood in Portugal
The main ingredients are squid (lula), cuttlefish (choco), octopus (powder), sea bass (bass), bream (dourada), sardines (Sardinha), the ubiquitous bacalhau (codfish) and shellfish such as oysters and clams (ameijoas ). The river fish is less common.
The “bacalhau” is the star ingredient in Portugal, is cooked in a huge variety of dishes. We can take it to the plate, sauce, croquettes, creams … The “pastéis de bacalhau” are salted cod croquettes that can be taken hot or cold. The “Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá” is a salted cod with a layer of potato and onion which is usually accompanied by a side dish of egg and olives.
An important fact in the Portuguese culinary history — when fishermen found as salting and preserving the bacalhau during their travels from the Nordic seas to Lisbon.
One classic meal with codfish is Bacalhau à Brás with onion, potato sticks, scrambled eggs, parsley and black olives. The “Meia Desfeita”, with cod and chips grain is a healthier option like to prove.
The “grilled sardines” fresh sardines grilled on charcoal. From June is the perfect time to enjoy them. Their height, not grow on trees, but arrive in our fat and coast and, consequently, the tastiest. There is no science to succeed in a beautiful sardines — just a good hot, fresh sardines, rock salt and something to drink while the succulent aromas spread through the air.
The “caracóis de Lisboa” (snails) are undoubtedly something to prove. You find doses of various sizes in various petisqueiras, small family restaurants and some cafes for a reasonable price. Awesome to have with a beer, a sangria or wine.
Ovos verdes: literally, it means “green eggs”. A vegetarian snack with boiled eggs, cut in half, stuffed, breaded and fried. The traditional recipe consists of emulsified yolk with olive oil, vinegar, spices and parsley.
Peixinhos da horta: another vegetarian snack, nothing more nothing less than green beans breaded and fried. The name says it all — a “pretend that we eat fish” straight from the garden who had no money to buy fresh fish.
Portuguese cheeses from goat’s milk and sheep are outstanding, and there are many varieties, from the mildest (fresh cheese) to the cured spicy touches. The most famous is the buttery “serra”, “Queijo da Serra”, made with sheep’s milk. Other varieties are Saloio, Palhais, Alavao or fresh whined. It is a good souvenir that we can bring back home from any supermarket.
Pastéis de nata
The famous “pastéis de Belém”, made since 1837 in Belem, a must if travel to Lisbon. In the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém we can buy these little gems boxes with cinnamon and cream, or taste them right there. Similar cakes lusas found in other cities with the generic name of “pastéis de nata”.
Hope you enjoyed these tips as I did! The food is one the aspects that make me feel at home in Portugal!