A quick guide to Portuguese cuisine

Portuguese cuise

Portuguese cuisine is as underrated as the country as the touristic destination itself.
If you have never heard anything about it, don’t worry, you are not alone. I haven’t either until I went there on vacation. Portuguese food is simple, hearty and delicious. You will love it if you are not vegetarian, vegan or have other specific food restrictions. And the best part – you don’t need to go to fancy restaurants. In fact, the best dining we had was in the cheapest places. Look what Portugal can offer for:

Fish lovers

bacalau a bras
Bacalhau a bras

The most popular fish is Bacalhau (dried, salted codfish). Portuguese swear that there are more than 300 recipes to cook bacalhau, one for every day of the year, and I can believe its true. If you look at the menu in a Portuguese restaurant, you will notice how often the word “bacalhau” comes across. Some cod dishes that you will find everywhere: Bacalhau a bras, Pasteis de bacalhau (cod fishcakes) and Bacalhau com natas (cod baked in cream)My favorite one is Bacalhau a bras – a dish made from fried potatoes, shredded cod, onions and scrambled eggs.

Grilled salmon with potatoes
Grilled salmon with potatoes

Sardines and salmon are also popular. Fish is usually served with potatoes, rice or salad. Note that servings are big, so better order half size if you are not really hungry.
Apart from fish, there are lots of seafood dishes that I hope to try next time.

Meat lovers 

The are also many Portuguese meat dishes, so if you like fish, seafood and meat, you might have hard times choosing what to eat. Pork and ham cooked in different variations seem to be especially loved here, I don’t even remember seeing chicken on the menu.

Francensinha

Worth mentioning is a famous crazy Porto dish Francensinha.You might be a little shocked to hear what it is made of: two slices of bread, steak, ham and sausage covered with melted cheese and a secret tomato and beer sauce, sometimes with an egg on top and served with French fries.

If you are trying it for the first time, I would recommend you to order one and share, because the chances you will be able to finish it are low and you will feel sorry to leave this delicious food on the plate. Besides you will still have some space for a dessert, because this is what you have to try in Portugal, no matter what your diet plan is.

Sweet tooth

Ovos moles de Aveiro, Salame de Chocolate and other sweets
Ovos moles de Aveiro, Salame de Chocolate and other sweets

Pastel de nata (custard tarts) can be found in every bakery and coffee shop and taste the best when they are warm. Tip: sprinkle it with cinnamon! I was wondering all time what was this cinnamon on the tables for. Unfortunately, we got to know it only on the last day in Portugal.

Salame de Chocolate looks really like salami but is made from dark chocolate, eggs, butter, nuts and broken  cookies and then cut in slices.

Sweets from Aveiro (Ovos moles de Aveiro) are made of egg yolks and sugar and wrapped in a thin crust.

If you happen to be in Sintra, do not miss Queijadas de Sintra – fresh cheese egg pastries. They are also a great souvenir to take back home because they can stay fresh up to two weeks.

After eating delicious local food for a week I realized this is one of the reasons I want to come back to Portugal again.

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