Portuguese cuisine is based on their use of olive oil and spices, many from Mediterranean influences, especially saffron , garlic and chilli peppers. It’s basically a combination of spices and fish based foods, at least their characteristic dishes. Most of their recipes are minimalist compared to other European cuisines in that they rely solely on the flavors that the fish or meat bring to the dish instead of adding aiolis or pastes or sauces. The main dish is always going to be lunch time, which is served between 1-3pm and breakfast and dinner or more a breeze with less structured dishes.
Breakfast in Portugal is much simpler and light than we know in the states it basically consists of bread with butter and all sorts of jams, tea or coffee and some yogurt or cereal. The main meal would be lunch and due to its well-developed fishing industry, mostly all dishes involve some sort of seafood. The country has Europe’s highest fish consumption per capita and is among the top four in the world for this indicator. Fish is served in so many ways cooked in a variety of techniques; grilled, boiled, simmered, fried, poached, stewed, pretty much any way you can think of. The number one fish consumed would be Bacalhau or as we know it, cod.
Some of the main lunch dishes include:
–Sapateria Recheada :Stone crab is stuffed with its own roe and insides and served with a type of potato salad.
-Caracois: snails are cooked in an oregano based broth with lots of garlic, laurel and thyme. Not my favorite I have to admit, but it is very popoular in the region.
-Alehira de Mirandela: A classic among smoked sausages and chouriços (type of sausage, typically made out of pork, encased in its natural intestine skin), served with eggs and fries.
-Francesinha: a type of croque madame of the region; cheese, layers of cured meat, gravy, an egg on top of it all and accompanied by french fries.
-Ameijoas a Bulhao Pato: made of olive oil, cilantro, garlic and oftentimes white wine
-Sardihnas Asadas: charcoal-grilled sardines with a zesty lime taste
And the main desserts include:
-Pastel de Nata: Small and sweet egg tarts sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.
-Bola de Belem: you might know them as Berliner, doughnut-like desserts filled with an egg yolk-based creme with an outside that is fried and covered with sugar.
-Leite Crema: cream, eggs, and roasted sugar. Easy peasy. It’s a laid back creme brûlée basically.
This are only the most popualar and traiditonal dishes that charazterize the region but as I mentiond before, their main dish is fish and there’s many ways to prepare it so as long as you try their desserts and any of Portugal’s fish dishes you are pretty much set.
Enjoy and read more about Portugal on or previous posts, just follow the link here.