The best food in Portugal is simple and wholesome. Looking for fresh seafood, tender local meat and invigorating spices? You’ve chosen the right place. Here are five great dishes to look out for on your next Portugal holiday.
Pasteis de Nata
You’ll instantly fall in love with this dish. These rich, aromatic custard tarts are a sweet, nourishing snack dusted in cinnamon and powdered sugar. They’re a Portuguese classic and you’ll find them all over the country, but to experience the genuine article head to the Antiga Confeitaria de Belem on the western edge of Lisbon. There they’ve been making Pasteis de Belem for 200 years. It goes terrific with a coffee.
No two Cataplana are the same, so you’ll have to get your skates on and visit a few places to try and find your favorite variation. This surf and turf dish is a mixture of clams, sausage, ham, onions, chilies and tomatoes finished with various spices. The ingredients are sautéed in wine before a slow-cook producing a very satisfying result. The dish gets its name from the pan in which it is traditionally cooked and served in.
They say you should never judge a book by its cover and never has that phrase been so applicable. This traditional bread and soup dish may not look much but it tastes absolutely delicious. Again there are variations on this dish (notably the Açorda Alentejana version) but the idea is that shrimps, bread, eggs, olive oil, garlic and coriander are all mashed up together. Honestly, this one’s a winner.
This traditional dish is a throwback to the era of Portugal’s sea voyages and its maritime history. It’s basically dried salt-cod served with whatever vegetables are lying around (usually onions, peppers and olives). Back in the good old days, sailors would preserve cod in salt for long voyages and a fondness for salty cod seems to have prevailed throughout the ages.
This green soup could almost be called Portugal’s national dish. It’s a broth of cabbage, onions and potatoes — sometimes served with local sausage. You’ll find this served all over the country — even, somewhat bizarrely, in nightclubs as an accompaniment to traditional Portuguese Fado music.
Portuguese food is tremendously tasty. Now all you need to find out is the Portuguese for “Bon Appetit” and impress the locals while you explore the country and the cuisine on your Portugal holidays.
Written by Sarah Thompson