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Food: A selection of typical Portuguese dishes

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Food: A selection of typical Portuguese dishes


Written by  Laurinda Seabra
Tuesday, 15 August 2017 00:44

Gastronomy involves discovering, tasting, experiencing and understanding food and drink, alone or in the company of friends and family. In the Algarve, you will find a wide range of restaurants, snack bars and typical “tavernas” where you can do just that, or if you are the more adventurous type you can try many of the typical Portuguese recipes in your own kitchen in the comfort of your home.


The basics.

The Portuguese cuisine is characterized by rich, filling and full-flavored dishes. The use of spices is an integral part of our cuisine. These spices include piri piri (small, fiery chili peppers), paprika and black pepper, as well cinnamon, vanilla and saffron. Olive oil is one of the bases of Portuguese cuisine both for cooking and flavouring meals. Garlic and ginger are widely used, as are herbs such as, basil, thyme, coriander and parsley.

  • Breakfast is traditionally just coffee and a bread roll with butter, jam, cheese or ham.
  • Lunch, tends to be the principal meal of the day and often lasts over an hour. It is served between noon and 2 o'clock or between 1 and 3 o'clock, and dinner is generally served late, around or 8 or 9 o'clock.
  • Lunch and dinner usually include three main courses including soup. A common soup is caldo verde, made with potato, shredded kale, and chunks of chouriço sausage.
  • Among fish recipes, bacalhau (cod) dishes are pervasive. If you are a meat lover, then most of the typical meat dishes include chicken, pork or veal, with pork being a real favourite.
  • The most typical desserts are rice pudding (decorated with cinnamon) and caramel custard, but they also often include a variety of cheeses. The most common varieties are made from sheep or goat's milk, and include the queijo da serra from the region of Serra da Estrela.
  • A popular pastry is the "pastel de nata", a small custard tart sprinkled with cinnamon.


List of typical dishes


The traditional starter in Portugal is soup. You can find it in many different recipes

  • Caldo Verde - meaning "Green Soup", it is made of potatoes, fried onions and thinly sliced cabbage (kale), served with slices of "chouriço" (cured spiced sausage).
  • Canja - is a chicken and rice soup.
  • Sopa da Pedra - This soup is a very rich soup made with any vegetable or meat that a chef can find.
  • Sopa Portuguesa- "Portuguese soup", is a soup that contains kale, beans, broccoli, carrots and turnips.


Bacalhau: Cod, salted and dried under the sun, it is said that there are over 1000 ways to prepare cod in Portugal. Here's some of the most typical cod dishes:

  • Bacalhau Cozido - Boiled Cod with vegetables.
  • Bacalhau Assado - Roasted cod.
  • Bacalhau Assado na Brasa - Char-grilled cod.
  • Bacalhau à Brás - A dish with cod, onions and thin slices of potato, scrambled eggs, black olives and parsley

Other very common main dishes in Portugal are:

  • Caracóis - Snails. Prepared in different ways, although a favorite is a stew.
  • Cozido à Portuguesa - A traditional stew, which is now found all over the country.
  • Carne de Porco à Alentejana - A typical dish from Algarve although most people think it is from the Alentejo region. This consists of pork fillets cooked with garlic, spices, lard and clams. This dish is also sometimes made with ham.
  • Sardinhas Assadas - Char grilled fresh sardines. (not out of a tin)
  • Febras Assadas - Char grilled pork steaks.
  • Bitoque - is Pan fried marinated thin beef steak served with french fries and egg.
  • Bife - Pan fried marinated lean beef steak served with golden fried french fries, lean ham and egg.
  • Arroz de Marisco - Seafood rice.
  • Feijoada - Bean stew with different kinds of meat, potatoes and legumes.
  • Açorda de Marisco - Bread and shellfish stew.
  • Caldeirada de Peixe - Fish stew.
  • Frango no Churrasco - Charcoal roasted chicken.


  • Arroz Doce - Sweet rice, is basically a rice pudding, generally covered with cinnamon.
  • Leite Creme- A sweet made from milk, eggs and covered in roasted sugar. Its name means cream milk.
  • Baba de Camelo- A dessert made with condensed milk.
  • Pastéis de Nata- A kind of round custard tart in a flaky pastry case sprinkled with cinnamon.
  • Bolo de Bolacha- A cake made with butter or Marie biscuits and condensed milk.
  • Mousse de Chocolate- Chocolate mousse.
  • Pudim de Ovos - Egg Flan.
  • Pudim Molotof - Egg whites pudding baked in caramel sauce, that simply melts in your mouth.


The most famous drinks in Portugal are:

  • Coffee - Drunk normally in cafes as expressos.
  • Beer - Sagres and Super Bock being the most famous.
  • Aguardente de Medronho - (A type of a schnaps made from a wild berry)


Portugal is a big wine producer and offers a very broad range of both whites and reds.

A Portuguese speciality: Vinho Verde. The name “Green Wine” indicates that the wine is young and its fermentation short, giving a low-alcohol, light, sparkling, fruity and slightly acidic wine. But Portugal’s most famous wine is Port, a sweet and syrupy drink, which can be either red or white, and is drunk as an aperitif or after a meal. The Port we know today has been made since the 1830s.

  • Dão Wine: grown on the granite slopes of the Dão valley, two wines are produced, a fresh white wine and a very soft, velvet-smooth red wine with a rich aroma, similar to Burgundy.
  • Bairrada: This traditional wine-growing region produces a robust and highly aromatic red wine.
  • Colares: a dry white wine from the Serra de Sintra, near Lisbon. A world-famous wine produced since the 13th century.
  • Moscatel: a sweet golden white wine from the Serra d'Arrábida, south of Lisbon. Usually drunk as an aperitif.

We trust that this article will assist you getting started in experiencing some of the most common Portuguese dishes, wines and treats.





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