Portugal amazed me not only by its rich history and endless ocean with gorgeous golden sanded beaches but also by its simple, healthy and tasty cuisine. For me, a leisure trip to Portugal turned into a real gastronomic tour.
So, let’s see what real Portuguese dishes you need to try, definitely ?
I love soups a lot and Portugal was my best cure, to choose from a variety of soups. The weather was chilly during the end of October, which is a good time to search for the best soups. So if you’re in Portugal during this time, make sure you taste the most famous soup called Caldo Verde. It is an authentic Portuguese Soup dish, which uses traditional flavors and ingredients and is notoriously served in all restaurants and also weddings or birthdays. This soup is made from vegetables, kale cabbage, and smoked chorizo sausage which gives it a nice green color. It costs from 3 euros in restaurants to 1,5 euro in a shopping center cafe.
Fish sew or Caldeirada soup. This dish is named for the traditional pot it is cooked in. The different versions contain not only different kind of fish, but shrimp, mussels, and clams as well. It is very thick and nourishing.
Acorda is a Portuguese bread soup. It was once known as the soup of the poor, as they crumbled, “yesterday’s” bread with garlic and poured boiling water overall. Acorda is usually served in the best restaurants. The soup is a little bit spicy and rather thick.
My favorite one is Sapateira Recheada – the stuffed crab. Imagine a sweet delicate crab meat mixed in a cool creamy sauce with hints of briny tangy flavor.
Cod Croquettes pasteis de bacalhau. These croquettes are made from bacalhau, the dried-fish staple mixed with boiled potatoes and eggs and fried in oil.
Snails caracois in Portugal are really very good. Cooked in a savory broth, they are flavored with olive oil and/or butter, garlic, Portuguese chili pepper sauce known as piri-piri, and a lot of oregano. Some restaurants will add extra ingredients but this list covers the basics, which gives is a rich flavor because of their tasty sauce.
Salada de Ovas is a salad made from cod or hake roe sacs sliced and mixed with onion, tomato and bell peppers. As true representative of the maritime state, the Portuguese will eat every part of the fish, with nothing wasted.
The most simple and light is called Portuguese salad. And at first glance, he reminded me of our Greek salad but with another taste. Basic ingredients of every Portuguese Salad are peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers with chopped cilantro seasoned with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and chili paste.
Cataplana is a Portuguese seafood dish originating in the southern region of Portugal in Algarve. It uses a copper cooking device also called a Cataplana which unique to the Algarve region. This dish is a combination of different delicious kinds of seafood like prawns, littleneck clams, and chorizo sausage.
Polvo a lagareiro. There are several variants of cooking octopus in Lisbonne, but the most delicious is baked with potatoes. Dish served with vegetables and spinach.
You should try the sardines, which are considered the cultural symbol of the country. They are especially tasty in season, in summer, freshly caught and grilled.
If you a chicken lover you should definitely try the chicken in the sauce piri-piri. Piri-piri chicken is a spicy dish with roots from both Africa and Portugal. The dish was created in Angola and Mozambique, and when the Portuguese settlers arrived with chile peppers, it then became really hot and crispy.
This is the traditional dessert I wanted to try before anything else. The Pastel de Belem. This pastry dish was invented in Lisbon and then spread all over Portugal. They are small cups filled with custard, and are puffs up a bit. The traditional recipe was kept in secrecy for centuries in a unique pastry shop Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon. It’s very easy to find it as it is located near the famous Jeronimos monastery. You can actually smell it and almost taste it from outside the famous pastry shop. There are always crowds of tourists and local residents, so it is best to get there early in the morning, or you’ll find yourself in a long line wrapping around the block!
Another unique dessert worth trying is ovos moles (soft eggs). This is a sweet cream made from egg yolks and sugar, boiled and then placed in a special rice flour molds. It looks like a candy and very sweet.
WINE AND CHEESE
Alcohol in Portugal is another national pride and the most famous is Port wine. It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine, though it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties.
Vinho Verde (Green wine) is a young low-alcohol (alcohol content 9–13%) sparkling wine with a sour taste. It is made in the north-west of Portugal between the Douro and Minho valleys. It has a fruity taste and good quenches thirst.
In my opinion, Portugal’s cheeses are not inferior to French and Italian cheeses. One of my favorites is the soft cheese Serra de Estrela. The traditional and easiest way to serve them is by cutting off the top of the rind and using a spoon to scoop out the cheese. These types of cheese are perfect to spread on crusty bread or cracker.