Algarve is known for its amazing beaches, warm people, and safety, among others. But what about gastronomy? This year, become the #foodie you deserve to be, and enjoy Algarve’s flavors!
ARROZ DE TAMBORIL
The monkfish is definitely a one-of-a-kind creature. It has a disproportionately large head, a huge mouth, and pointed teeth. Not very pretty, still very tasty.
Monkfish Rice is a very traditional dish in Portugal. You cut the fish into cubes, make a sautéed with shrimp and other sorts of seafood, tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic. Don’t forget to finish the plate with fresh coriander (our local obsession), et voilà…
AMÊIJOAS À BULHÃO PATO
A true ode to the most elementary ingredients of Algarve’s cuisine, and the freshest seafood. “Bulhão Pato” Clams can be found in any restaurant, and it is said that its name is a tribute to the Portuguese poet Raimundo António de Bulhão Pato, after he mentioned it in his writings.
“Bulhão Pato” Clams were one of the final candidates for the 7 Wonders of Portuguese Gastronomy.
FRANGO DA GUIA
Also known as Chicken Piri-Piri. The most popular recipe is made with garlic, olive oil, salt, lemon juice, and of course piri-piri chilies. Cooking it in a BBQ, instead of an oven, adds extra flavor to the dish.
The chillies used in piri-piri chicken aren’t native to Portugal: they originated in South America. The portuguese brought chili seeds from South America to Africa, and locals began to mixing the chilies with other ingredients, to create a sauce. The dish evolved and evolved until it became the popular piri-piri chicken dish we know today.
Grilled sardines can be found in all popular festivities, in Algarve, during Summer. We often refer to it as “sardinhada”, and a portion usually includes a hand full of small boiled potatoes, green pepper salad, and some bread. The sardine is kind of a national diva, and is also the protagonist of the iconic portuguese fish cans, which was the base of Algarve’s industry during a big part of the 20th century.
Don’t forget to visit Festival da Sardinha, in Portimão. It takes place in the old town, along the river.
A “cataplana” is an item of cookware used to prepare Portuguese seafood dishes, very popular in the Algarve region. The cataplana is traditionally made of copper and shaped like two clamshells, that can be sealed using a clamp on each side. The vessel functions as a crude pressure cooker.
Cataplanas can also be made of aluminum, and be found as a decorative object in every portuguese kitchen.
AÇORDA DE MARISCO
The portuguese word “açorda” comes from the dialectal form of the Andalusian Arabic, spoken in the Iberian Peninsula — thurda / çurda or thorda / çorda — the latter being the closest etymological link to the current portuguese term. Like many other traditional dishes, it is believed that its origin comes from the poor, and their need to be creative with the ingredients they had.
The “açorda” is made out of bread, garlic, coriander, and water. In its seafood version, the bread soaks in seafood broth and is finished with an egg yolk.
Xerém can be made out of anything that gives you a kind of broth or sauce. The main ingredient is corn flour, and the broth is used to cook it, while you keep this non-stop movement with a wooden spoon, making circles in a pot.
Any kind of shell can be used, when preparing Xerém. In some regions, you can also find inside small pieces of bacon or chorizo.
It’s made of almond paste, sugar, and eggs — filled with egg yarn, and it’s wonderfully modeled and painted by hand.
These little sweets will immediately catch your attention. The most common shapes are miniatures of fruits and vegetables or maritime items, decorated with matching colors. The almond paste, one of its main ingredients, is very typical in the Algarve. “Doce Fino” is considered a true work of art in the region.
TARTE DE AMÊNDOA
Another serious case of making the most out of local products. Tarte de Amêndoa is on every portuguese menu, in the dessert section, and if you find a “made with love” one, you will never forget it.
Algarve is very proud of its ancient traditions and myths. There is one called “The Tale of the Blossomed Almond Trees” and it tells the story of a princess from the North living in the Algarve. One day she gets very nostalgic of the snowy landscapes of her beloved home country. So the king Ibn-Almundim orders almond trees to be planted throughout the kingdom. Since then, every spring, princess Gilda waits for the blossomed almond trees to feel home again.
CHOQUINHOS À ALGARVIA
Get ready for a sea explosion in your mouth. Cuttlefish with Ink is soft and delicious, and also quite feared, because of its black color. Like the monkfish, never judge a book by its cover. It’s served with small potatoes, lots of persil, and olive oil.
Don’t forget to wash your mouth when you’re done 🙂
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