Portuguese food: a guide to seafood and green wine
What do you think of when someone mentions Portuguese food? Probably not a lot. Many European countries conjure up images of paella, snails, waffles or pizzas but Portugal, on the face of it, doesn't have that signature dish. Time therefore to have a quick guide to seafood from Portugal to help tempt your taste buds.
While Portugal might not be an immediately obvious destination stop for the foodie traveller, there's still plenty gastronomical adventures to be had. With the highest fish consumption per capita in Europe, seafood lovers will rejoice at the wide variety of fish dishes while wine lovers can tick a unique Portuguese variety off their list. Travelling taste-buds are still in for a treat when visiting the most western country of Europe.
This Portuguese favourite is simply known as cod in English, or more specifically dried and salted cod. This is a staple in Portugal so much so that there is said to be over 365 recipes containing the fish and it's even part of the traditional Christmas dinner in some parts of the country.
Seafood, in general
Portugal is a haven for seafood lovers, so even if salted cod isn't your dish of choice you'll surely find something else fresh from the ocean. The country's Atlantic coastline has seaside fishing towns dotted along it with seafront restaurants serving fish that was sometimes caught that day. The list of seafood you can order in Portugal is lengthy but sardines, octopus, lobster, clams, oysters, mussels and other varieties can all be found when eating out. Canned seafood is also very commonly eaten in Portugal.
Pastel de nata
For sweet-toothed tourists visiting the country, this egg tart pastry should do the trick. Made from egg-yolks, the dish goes back to the 18th Century when egg-whites were still commonly used for cleaning and the remaining egg became used in cooking. The original recipe hasn't been altered much over the years, and while tarts have cinnamon or icing powder dusted on them or have been on purposefully given a rustic texture, the original tart hasn't changed much.
Direct translation: green wine. The name of this drink might be a bit confusing as the wine is not actually green but can be a red, white or rosé. The name actually originates from the production method: green wines are younger and the grapes aren't allowed to ferment as long as other wine varieties. It produces a very delicate taste, and most green wines have a gentle fizz to them.
Dairy isn't something typically included in traditional Portuguese recipes, but there's still a wide variety of native cheeses to be eaten as an extra course. There are twelve cheeses in Portugal that have Protected Designation of Origin labels, and which one you get to try on your trip will depend on which part of the country you're in (or even the time of year you visit – some cheese are only produced seasonally).
If you're planning on visiting any bars in Portugal, this is what you should order. A cherry liqueur, it's typically served as a shot with a piece of fruit at the bottom. There's even tiny bars in the cities – mainly Lisbon – which specialise in serving ginjinha. Some regions of Portugal have their own version of the liquer too.
This isn't a type of dish on offer in Portugal, but the name of a renowned celebrity chef. He has six restaurants in Portugal – one in Oporto and five in Lisbon – which offer a contemporary taste of traditional Portuguese cuisine. The menu will put you back a penny but his restaurants are hailed as some of the best in Portugal and are well worth stopping by if you're after high cuisine.