Portugal is one of my very favorite countries. Not only is it gorgeous, but the food and wine (port, anyone?) are to die for. The culinary variety of the Portuguese is as varied as the landscape of the country. The dishes rely heavily on fresh produce from the mountains in the north, the plains in the south and the long shoreline. The Portuguese also love their traditional recipes, though one dish can be done in a hundred ways.
Caldeirada de Enguias
If you are a fan of seafood head to the Aveiro region which is located between Porto and Coimbra for very their seafood, particularly eel. The fishermen of this region have perfected a trick in making eel stew. The eel is seasoned with saffron and bell peppers. This dish is best taken with a glass of sparkling white wine, which is plentiful in this area.
Alheira de Mirandela
This is a fowl sausage with a very interesting history. It was made by Jews who were forced to display their conversion to Catholicism in the early 1500s by making pork sausage. However, instead of using pork, they used fowl instead. This threw off their persecutors who believed that by eating sausages, the Jews were no longer Kosher. Today, this is a popular dish in the country.
Making this sandwich perfectly requires 24 hours. The roasted pork loin that is used is cured for that long in a mix of wine, garlic, rosemary, tomatoes, and chilli peppers. Smoked ham also goes into the sandwich. The meats are then covered with double buns to make a juicy sandwich. Have it with red wine for a culinary delight that’s just heavenly.
Cod fish is a staple in Portugal. They call it ‘the faithful friend.’ There are hundreds of recipes for cod. Bacalhau a Bras is one of the more popular cod dishes. It is a combination of eggs, parsley, onions, chips, olives, and cod. This dish has a national following and is a feature in Portuguese homes on Christmas Eve.
Cataplana de Marisco
This is a popular dish from the Algarve region. It is stewed seafood prepared in a heavy copper double pan. It is served with chips or rice.
Arroz de Tamboril
Tamboril is monkfish. It is the second most popular fish in Portuguese cuisine after cod and is used in a variety of dishes. The arroz is prepared by cooking the monkfish in a laurel with tomato stew and garlic. It is then served with rice. They say the best you can get is in Cacarola, a seaside village which is 10 miles from Coimbra.
Cecina de Vaca Maturada
This is cured beef steak. It literally translates into aged cow steak. The aging gives the steak a very vivid colour and an unforgettable taste.