It’s sad to say that sometimes the beautiful country of Portugal can be overshadowed by its neighbor on the Iberian Peninsula, Spain. Although Spain is a gorgeous country full of a rich culture, history and tradition, we must remind ourselves that Portugal also has its many foods for us to uncover. From the picturesque beaches that perfectly depict paradise to the historical port cities such as “Porto” which is said to be the oldest inhabited city in the west, Portugal is nothing short of a shimmering culinary gem waiting to be explored. Check out more Portuguese foods here.
With its abundance of port cities and seemingly endless supply of fresh seafood, it is almost a given that it’s relatively easy to get used to Portuguese cuisine. Since cuisine depends on produce and environment of a certain region, Lisbon, Porto and other beach towns capitalize on seafood as a primary source of their diet.
One interesting national dish, “cozido à portuguesa,” is a thick stew of vegetables with various kinds of meat. Another dish famous in northern Portugal is suckling pig (“leitão assado”) which is similar to the Spanish lechon. Typical of Porto is tripe with haricot beans, which may not seem particularly enticing, but it is even popular among tourists that visit the city and Porto’s most famous dish since Henry the Navigator sent a vessel to conquer Ceuta in Morocco.
Similar to tapas in Spain, it is typical for Portuguese locals across the country to often order a few snacks they can munch on while enjoying a beer during their night on the town. Unlike the French escargots, caracois à portuguesa (below) are around the size of a dime and are slow-cooked in a flavorful broth of olive oil, garlic, onion, oregano, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Although simple in cooking style and their uses of fresh ingredients, this dish is nothing short of delicious.
A classic dish all over Portgual, they often make Açorda de Gambas, where the bread is heavily soaked and mushed up, then cooked with shrimp. This version of bread soup varies depending on the region in Portugal and in northern Lisbon and its surrounding areas, shrimp is used as the base of the soup. Only a hot broth of garlic, olive oil and tons of fresh cilantro is poured over it and topped with a poached egg.