Portuguese Cuisine (Algarve)

Portuguese cuisine seems to be, among the North Mediterranean cuisines (Spanish, French, Italian and Greek)  the least well known. It could be just a matter of size (Portugal is much smaller than any of the others) or it could be because portuguese in general seem to be quite bad at “selling their product”. It can also be because Portuguese cuisine is a simple cuisine that relies mostly on quality – flavorful – products. And, let’s face it, it’s not easy to find that kind of products, at an affordable price, anywhere in the world.

I, personally, am very proud of Portuguese Cuisine – never mind if some French may say it lacks presentation – I love it! From south to north of Portugal you can find a huge variety of different flavors, typical dishes and desserts too! There’s just no end to it!! Ok, you may be fooled into thinking that, in Porto, it’s all about the Francesinha (meat and cheese toasts like you’ve never imagined them) and nothing else, but rest assured there is a lot more to taste from in every little region of this rectangle by the Atlantic ocean (plus its 11 spots in the middle of that same ocean – Madeira and Azores). In time, I’ll dedicate more posts to guide you through the different nuances of the different regions. But, for now, the obvious comes first: fish and sea food in the south and by the coast – except for Lisbon, if you ask me – in Alentejo, very very good iberian (black) pork and some lovely cheeses, a bit north (in Serra da Estrela area) there’s the delightful “buttery” cheeses and the gorgeous chouriços, when you get to northern Portugal be prepared to heavier food, such as Francesinhas, pork intestines stew, among others. Along the way, never forget to drink good wine and eat good bread with chouriço.

Since I love to cook as much as I love to eat, I’m always happy to cook to other people. Whenever I find the time, I ask my guests if they’d like me to prepare them a Portuguese meal, with Portuguese wine. Sometimes, I cook in the cataplana, a typical pan from Algarve (see image bellow), some white meat fish or some cuttlefish with potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onion, red bell pepper, prawns, parsley and bay leaf.

Cataplana and green wine, Algarve, Portugal

The pan, Cataplana, looks like a wok when open. Great to drink with it is some green (white) wine, as it is very fresh and light.

Another two old time favorites are the barbecued Chouriço and the Migas com coentros (breadcrumbs with coriander) – a traditional dish from the mountains in Algarve and the Alentejo region (north of Algarve). Very easy to prepare and it pleases (almost) everybody – except for the coriander sensitive.

Portuguese Chourizo barbecued and migas com coentros - a portuguese speciality

Portuguese Chourizo barbecued and migas com coentros – a southern portuguese speciality

Wanna try it out yourself? Follow the recipe and please leave a comment by pressing the + sign after the post and let me know how you liked it!

Migas com coentros – recipe 

Ingredients (serves 2, as a side dish):

– 2 big slices of bread (we use the bread from Algarve and Alentejo – white, with crusty crust and a bit sour dough);

– half a small onion finely chopped (you can add a garlic clove, if you like it);

– 2 tablespoons of olive oil;

– a handful of coriander leaves roughly chopped; You can try with other things instead of coriander, such as asparagus, chouriço, …

– water (about half a litter) and salt to taste;

Instructions:

Chop the onion and the coriander, while heating up the oil in the frying pan. When the oil is warm (but not burning), toss them in there. Heat up some water in the kettle and break in the slices of bread in small pieces of bread (about 3-4cm big), mixing the frying pan content from time to time. When the onion is golden, put in the bread pieces and mix for one or two minutes. Add, then, the water  and salt and keep mixing until it turns into some kind of bread pudding.

Put it on a tray or a bowl and serve it fast – while it’s still warm!

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