Food in Portugal
Discover the Portuguese cuisine
The unknown cuisine
Portuguese cuisine is not as well known around the world as other Mediterranean cuisines, such as: French, Spanish, Italian, Greek or Turkish. We could compare the situation of Peruvian food, also food of an ancient and unchanged tradition that during the past 5 years has come to be considered the best cuisine in the world. None of us would have thought of trying Peruvian food before learning about it recently. If you enjoy exploring other cuisines, Portugal will be a great surprise for you. We are confident that the delicious food, the number of affordable restaurants, the good wine and beer that you will find in Portugal will not disappoint you.
We want to give you a summary and short description of some of the most popular dishes.
Portugal is one of the largest consumers of fish per capita in the world, so fish plays an important part in Portuguese cooking. Cod is by far the most popular fish for the Portuguese, and it is said that there are more than 365 different dishes made with cod. In fact, Cod is served in the traditional Portuguese Christmas dinner. Some of the most popular Cod recipes are Bacalhau à Braz, Bacalhau com natas, Bacalhau Espiritual or Bacalhau à Lagareiro. However, if you aren’t really sure which one you should try in a restaurant, we recommended you ask for the restaurant’s Cod speciality.
Apart from Cod, there are many other Portuguese fish dishes to try. During the summer, grilled Sardines with salad and bread are essential in any Portuguese gathering or popular festivity. Cooked Octopus, Polvo à Lagareiro is another delicious option; after cooking, the Octopus is seasoned with garlic, olive oil and chopped coriander and then roasted. Another delicious dish is Dourada grelhada, grilled Sea Bream, normally served with potatoes, salad and seasoned with olive oil.
Bacalhau com natas
There is no need for meat lovers to despair. Portuguese food is not just about fish. You could try Cozido à Portuguesa. This is a stew containing a mixture of beef, pork, chicken, a variety of cuts of smoked pork, sausages, and vegetables. Another choice we recommend is the Arroz de pato. a delicious combination of duck and rice, cooked and then lightly roasted to give a slightly crunchy top. The important Portuguese speciality you must not miss is Chouriço Assado (chourizo - spicy pudding).
In the Portuguese region of Alentejo Iberian black pigs range freely in the local forest. This variety of pig produces all kinds of flavoursome and traditional pork meat products, such as: cured ham (Prosciutto), a range of other traditional puddings, delicious steaks and cutlets. We recommend the traditional dish: Secretos de porco preto, grilled pork steaks. In this dish, the steak becomes really soft and the fat contained in the meat is partially melted to give it a distinctive taste.
In Porto, Francesinha (a Portuguese version of Croque-madame) is the speciality, and most of the pubs and restaurants serve their own local version. The last thing to mention is to look out for the bifana, a sandwich made with succulent pork loin slices marinated in a sauce with onion and peri-peri, and served with sweet mustard.
The traditional bifana sandwich
The most famous Portuguese dessert is Pastel de Nata, a Portuguese type of custard tart, which can be the perfect combination to eat as you drink a Portuguese espresso. In Belem-Lisbon, you should eat the original Pastel de Belém sweet, a must for any visitor to Lisbon. Pastel de Belém is an ancient and traditional variant of the pastel de nata following a secret recipe from the monastery near by (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos).
Chocolate Mousse is one more delicious traditional dessert, a mixture of melted chocolate, sugar, egg yolks and whipped egg whites that creates a special, creamy mousse. Natas do céu is another mousse-like dessert which combines egg yolks with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon, cream and cookies. All over Portugal many other traditional sweets can be found, such as: Ovos moles in Aveiro, Pastel de Tentugalnear Coimbra or Queijadas in Sintra.
Pasteis de nata
Cervejarias and marisqueiras (seafood restaurants) are the places to go when you are looking for delicious seafood dishes. Arroz de Marisco is the most famous and popular seafood speciality. It consists of seafood and rice in a creamy sauce. For starters for your seafood meal, we recommend Sapateira recheada, crab meat mixed in a creamy sauce, served with toast. Another seafood dish, Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato is a mixture of clams in a lemon and wine sauce. This should be served with many slices of bread to soak up the delicious sauce. It is a great option for a first course or as an appetizer with your beer in the esplanade next to the beach. Finally, Choco frito, a deep fried cuttlefish, is the speciality from Setubal.