Portuguese Cuisine

Portuguese cuisine is Mediterranean based. Some recipes have influences from the former colonies in Africa and Asia. Spices like paprika, cinnamon, cumin, pepper, cloves, chilli, nutmeg were introduced. The chilli is not used much and the food is not spicy. Most restaurants serve it separately as ‘piri-piri’ – chilli sauce in a bottle which you can sprinkle on your food.

Soups are healthy and wholesome.  In restaurants you have vegetable soup (sopa de legumes/hortaliça), carrot soup (creme de cenoura), chicken broth (canja de galinha). The traditional and well-known is the caldo verde.  It consists of potato, which is pureed, finely shredded kale greens (couve galega) and finely sliced chouriço (Portuguese sausage).

Given our coastline fish is popular in Portuguese cuisine.  Sardines are a favourite fish. Tuna, mussels, clams, squid, octopus and the imported salted codfish (bacalhau) form part of the Portuguese diet.

Olive oil is a main ingredient and used abundantly. Herbs used include parsley, coriander, bay leaf, mint, oregano, basil.

Desserts tend to be very sweet and use lots of sugar and eggs. Many recipes originated from the Monasteries. Popular puddings are pudim flan (creme caramel), arroz doce (rice pudding), chocolate mousse, leite creme (creme brulee).

You can find restaurants to fit your taste and pocket, from small back-street ‘tascas‘ (cafés) to luxury restaurants.  Portions tend to be generous.

Many restaurants serve a set price lunch menu with starter, main course, dessert, coffee and includes good house wine. Some fish and shellfish dishes are expensive.  When you see PV (preço variado) on a menu it means ‘varied price’ and it is charged by the weight.

Some of the dishes you will find in restaurants:
  • Ameijoas a bulhão pato – clams cooked in a tomato sauce.
  • Arroz de pato – rice and duck baked
  • Arroz de marisco – shellfish rice cooked in a sauce
  • Arroz de polvo – octopus cooked with rice in a sauce
  • Arroz de tamboril – rice with mokfish in a sauce
  • Bacalhau com natas – codfish baked with potatoes in a cream sauce and grilled
  • Cozido a Portuguesa – boiled meats, rice, greens, sausages
  • Carne de porco a Alentejana – cubes of seasoned pork with clams
  • Feijoada – pork with beans

An example of modern Portuguese dishes, left – vieiras a bras com trufas – scallops with mushrooms and potatoes with egg, at Sr Manuel Seafood Bar (Av. Afonso Sanches, 40 Cascais).