Food Spotlight: Portugal


It may be a small country on the western edge of Europe but Portugal has had a huge influence on the world thanks in large part to its colonial history – leaving its mark through language and culture in Brazil, West and East Africa and throughout the Indian Ocean. Its former colonies have also influenced Portugal in return, in its food especially, with foreign spices and flavours like piri piri chili peppers, black pepper, cinnamon, vanilla and saffron. And although Portugal isn’t technically a Mediterranean country, it does share many basic ingredients with its Romance cousins – like olive oil, garlic and parsley.

Many cities in the US and Canada have been blessed by the influx of Portuguese immigrants in the 1960’s and 70’s who brought alongtheir distinct cuisine. Count yourself lucky to have a Portuguese churrasco restaurant in your neighbourhood. Their rotisserie chicken, rice and other dishes make for a fantastic take-out meal. And if youhave Portuguese neighbours, then you’re bound to get wafts of charcoal-grilled sardines in the summer and home-made wine in the fall.

If there’s a restaurant that specializes in Portuguese cuisine near you – or you’re adventurous and want to try cooking something up that’s guaranteed to be hearty and delicious, here are some our favourite Portuguese dishes and delicacies to discover:

Caldo Verde: Literally “green broth”, this lively green Portuguese soup is as basic as it gets – onions, potatoes, kale or collard greens, garlic and olive oil – but don’t let that fool you. It’s Portugal’s original comfort food and for good reason – it’s heavenly! For recipe, click here.

Bacalhau a bras: A seafaring nation, fish in general, and cod in particular, has been a staple here for hundreds of years. Cod, in fact, is so beloved it’s referred to as “the faithful friend”. Another delectable comfort food, this one is made from sautéed shredded cod with onions, thinly chopped fried potatoes and scrambled eggs, and garnished with parsley and olives.For recipe, click here.

Alheira de Mirandela: This savory sausage dish can be made from chicken, veal, duck or rabbit – but never pork – and is often served with a fried egg and French fries. The reason why it’s never made from pork is that Alheira sausages were invented by Portuguese Jews who were forced to convert in 1497. Those who converted continued to secretly avoid eating pork by creating these non-pork sausages. Eventually, their deliciousness became too much for Portuguese of any religion to pass up.For more on this story click here.

Pastel de nata: There are hundreds of delicious Portuguese desserts but this one towers over all others. An egg custard tart in filo dough, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar, have one bite (if you dare) and you’ll understand. For recipe, click here.

Have you tried Portuguese cuisine? What’s your favourite? Check into the Shop Talk blog community forum and share your thoughts!

Did you know: Leite Creme

In France it’s Crème Brûlée, in Spain Crema Catalana, in the UK, they call it Trinity Cream. But the Portuguese swear they make it best. (Source)

15 thoughts on “Food Spotlight: Portugal

  1. I’ve been to Portugal twice and each time I grow a little more adventurous with their food..
    Just love the open air markets.I rented a condo last time so cooked for myself.Just shopping for the food is an experience!

  2. I TRIED YOUR CUSTARD TARTS THEY WERE WONDERFUL AND I MUST SAY VERY VERY ENJOYABLE
    MY AUNT WAS A GREAT FAN OF YOUR PASTRY RIGHT UNTIL HER LAST DAYS ON EARTH. FOR HER 95TH BIRTHDAY SHE asks FOR 6 OF THEM WE GOT HER 12 SHE ATE THEM IN 3 DAYS. THANK YOU FOR MAKING HER AND ALL HER FAMILY HAPPY TO HAVE MADE THIS DELICIOUS DESSERT

  3. I’m Portuguese born in the Island of Sao Miguel Azores, I’m very blessed to know how to cook Portuguese. My Mom marinated just about everything, and I’ll tell you it makes a huge difference in taste and tenderizing meats.

  4. Portuguese tarts are my favourite, they are soooooo good!! and I love how they cook their chicken as well, we love going to the Portuguese restaurant quite a few times a year just to get the chicken, omg it’s to die for!!

  5. Omg love reading and trying delicious recipies from all over the world mouth watering when one is reading so need to get into my Canadian simple kitchen and learn some new meals for my family to enjoy

  6. My family and I have vacationed in Portugal. Indeed the food is amazing. In Toronto, we have been to Chiado Fine Dining and Positano Restaurant. The food & service in both restaurants are fantastic!!! Highly recommended!

  7. Fantastic read n Portuguese cuisine. Would you know of any good Portuguese restaurant in the Metro Vancouver area? Thanks!

  8. I am Portuguese and I love Portuguese food. I grew up on bacalhau a braz and other ways of preparing cod. I still do it in the oven, baked with potatoes, olive oil and salt.

    There are much better things than caldo verde and alheira though. The famous “cozido”, for example, a stew made with different meats, sausages and vegetables. According to the region of the country it’s prepared in, some ingredients and preparation vary. Alheira is added in the one made in Tras-os Montes, and in the Azores they cook underground using volcanic heat.
    https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/z4g38y/this-underground-stew-cooks-using-volcanic-heat

    Another favorite of mine is “Carne de Porco à Alentejana” which is a traditional recipe from the south, made with marinated pork, cubed fries, clams and lots of coriander.
    https://www.justapinch.com/recipes/main-course/pork/carne-de-porco-alentejana.html

    There is a lot of delicious Portuguese food, and it’s one of the reasons why I miss my country so much. It’s a good thing I’ve learned how to cook some of the dishes, and have found an awesome restaurant nearby that does take-out 😀

  9. Molotov cake…. it’s amazing ! beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.
    Think it’s made from egg whites,,,,,,,,,so good !

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