From Sardines to Sausages: Exploring Portuguese Cuisine

ES guest writer Faith brings us the food travel lowdown on the savory land that is Portugal.

From freshly caught grilled sardines and salted dried cod dishes to hearty smoked sausage stews and the famous piri-piri chicken, Portugal has some seriously flavorful food. Paprika, garlic, bay leaves, chili and olive oil are popular additions to many Portuguese dishes, and the resulting flavors will leave you coming back for more. These popular dishes make this a culinary destination that deserves to be better known.

1. Pasteis de Nata – Portuguese Egg Custard Tarts

Pasteis de nata

The Pasteis de Nata is a creamy, flaky, egg custard tart, topped with sugar and cinnamon. The tart originated in Lisbon in the 18th century at a bakery in the Santa Maria de Belem parish, and the bakery itself has now become a popular tourist attraction, serving over 10,000 tarts a day. Lines are inevitable, but it’s well worth the wait to try this distinctive treat from its original source.

2. Pão – Bread

Traditionally, Portuguese meals were served on a slab of crusty bread to soak up all the juices and to provide a filling meal. Today, plates have replaced this method of serving food, but bread is still an integral part of most meals. Bread also varies widely from region to region, with each having its own speciality. Pão de Centeio is predominantly found in the North—this is a rye bread, which is dark and dense. The sweet Bolo de Ferradura loaf can be found in the Ribatejo region, combining unusual flavors such as star anise and lemon. It is often horseshoe-shaped and served at weddings to bring good luck. Pão com Chouriço is the Portuguese substitute for the American hotdog, but more delicious as it is made with Portuguese smoked sausage and fresh dough.

3. Chicharros – Grilled Sardines

Grilled Sardines

The Portuguese love their seafood, and one of the simplest yet most delicious dishes is grilled sardines, served with potatoes and salad. Caught in the morning and served for supper Slik sorger du for a alltid ha oversikt over de hotteste og nyeste spilleautomatene pa nett. in the evening, they are delectable and just need a squeeze of lemon. There are hundreds of small fishing villages along the Portuguese coastline, especially in the beautiful southern Algarve region. Portimão in the Algarve even hosts an annual sardine festival in August. Held on the Portimão riverfront, not only does the festival serve copious amounts of barbequed sardines and Portuguese tapas, there are also live music and market stalls dotted around.

4. Bacalhau – Salted Cod

Bacalhau - Dried salted cod

This staple is inherent throughout Portuguese history and has even been nicknamed fiel amigo; faithful friend in English. Salting has long been an effective form of preservation, and the process allowed sailors to travel for months at a time, discover new countries, new foods and subsequently open up new trade routes into Portugal. Traditionally the fish was boiled and served in a broth with vegetables, but today, there are 365 ways to cook the cod – a new recipe for every day of the year. However the most popular way of serving the fish is either to bake it with cream, olives, eggs and potatoes or make it into tasty fishcakes. These dishes used to be extremely cheap as there was an abundance of cod in the Atlantic waters, however overfishing has meant the price has risen in recent years.

5. Cozido à Portuguesa – Smoked Sausage Stew

Pork is a popular meat in Portugal and chouriças (smoked sausages infused with sweet parprika) are a firm favorite. The sausage, which is similar to the Spanish chorizo, gives any dish an injection of intense flavor and color. The Cozido à Portuguesa stew consists of potatoes, beans, vegetables, spices and plenty of chourico, though sometimes other meats are added too. There is even a festival of chouriças which is also known as the festival of St. Luís, the patron saint of animals, held in Querença, near the popular area of Albufeira every January.

6. Piri Piri Chicken

Piri piri chicken


The Portuguese discovered and imported the piri-piri chilli from Angola and Mozambique in South Africa. Chicken marinated in piri-piri sauce has now been adopted as typical Portuguese cuisine and can be found throughout the country, but the dish is most prevalent in the Algarve region. Restaurant Ramires in the Algarve is one of the oldest and best eateries in which to try this delicious chicken dish.

Portions in Portugal are known for being large, so ask for meia dose (half portion)if you don’t have a huge appetite.!

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