Traditional Food of Portugal – Part 4 The Algarve

The Algarve

Grilled fish and seafood, as described in Part 3 Lisbon, provide the aroma of grilling fish that pervades the Algarve. Makes me hungry just thinking about it!

Fish Market Lagos
Fish Market Lagos

Peixe Grilhado is mixed grilled fish. As in Lisbon fresh fish abounds on the Algarve coast. This dish is usually served with boiled potatoes or fries and a salad. The typical Algarve salad is made up of fresh tomato, green pepper, onion, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and dried oregano. Sometimes grated carrots are served in addition or on top of the salad.

Sardinhas Assadas or Grelhada Sardinha are grilled sardines served with the same accompaniments as other grilled fish.

Cataplana is prepared in a cataplana pan, a copper pan with a hinged lid. Cataplana is a combination of fish, seafood, chorico and vegetables steamed together with seasonings. The vegetables usually include potatoes and tomatoes. Some restaurants offer seafood cataplana, others fish cataplana, while others serve a combination dish of both seafood and fish. It is difficult to find this dish prepared for one, and the serving for two can feed three or four people! Order it with at least one other person or bring along a to go container (restaurants do not always have them for large amounts of soupy leftovers) and take the rest back to your lodgings to enjoy for lunch or dinner the next day.

Arroz de Marisco translates as seafood rice. It is actually a seafood stew that includes shrimps, clams and other seafood in a tomato and white wine broth cooked in a clay pot.

Carne de porco à alentejana is a dish of fried pork with clams. It is more appealing than it sounds. It originated on the Algarve but can be found throughout the south and in Lisbon.

Frango Piri Piri or Frango Grilhado is scrumptious grilled chicken served with a hot piri piri sauce, the origins of which are African. In theory frango grilhado is plain grilled chicken and frango piri piri is with the sauce. However, it is not always so clear so ask to be sure what you are getting. Some restaurants consider the piri piri sauce a part of frango grilhado. In recent years some restaurants do not put the piri piri sauce on the frango piri piri while they grill it because tourists think it is too hot. I find this absurd and wonder why the tourists order a local dish if they don’t want to eat it!

Clay pot stews are delicious stews that replace the roasts more popular in northern Portugal. My favorite is lamb.

My favorite Algarve meal (well I actually have a lot of favorites) is Ameijoas Bolhão Pato, clams  steamed with olive oil, garlic, white wine, coriander and lemon.  Enjoy seaside with a glass of Vinho Verde and plenty of crusty Portuguese bread to soak up the garlicky broth.  Finish with a Pastel de Nata, served warm sprinkled with cinnamon, and a cup of tea for the complete Portuguese dining experience.

Kathy Stafford
Kathy Stafford

Kathy Stafford is a writer, publisher and editor. She was a contributing author to "Sasha Cohen Fire on Ice". She has been a contributing editor to several publications including, "Discover Balboa Park: A Complete Guide". Kathy was publisher and editor of "Skating Sketches", reporting on figure skating worldwide, for over ten years. She was a credentialed journalist as a figure skating specialist for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. She has covered international skating events in Switzerland, France, Finland, England, Canada and the United States with published articles in Canada, Japan, and the United States. Although she never accepted an assignment, she was on the list of approved Lonely Planet authors for three years. She is currently combining her love of travel, and her background as a writer and editor, as a publisher and author of travel related journalism. In addition, she blogs about her search for her family roots at

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