If you have ever been to Portugal, you would have realised that food is at the forefront of any Portuguese debate or discussion. They usually take place around a dinner table with friends and family talking about politics or football whilst devouring one of the many delicious dishes of seafood, bacalhau, or pork.
Portuguese cuisine is unique with its ingredients and flavours that you do not find in other countries. When it comes to codfish, this country has its own way of curing and cooking it. It is salted and dried so that it lasts forever and takes 2 to 3 days to desalt it again so you can cook it.
Though once it is cooked, it tastes amazing with its flaky flesh and succulent juices!!
I have been living in Portugal for years now. I have a full understanding of the many Portuguese foods and recipes available here. If you’re new to Lisbon or Portugal in general and need some ideas on what to try and how to make some of these Portuguese dishes, I will enlighten you with some of the best dishes you can find and cook at home for yourself.
Portuguese dishes with bacalhau
Bacalhau à brás
This is probably the most famous of all the cod fish dishes, and you can find it in almost all restaurants around Portugal. Made with cod fish, mixed eggs, crispy shreds of potatoes, garlic, olives and olive oil, it is the ultimate comfort food.
Bacalhau a Gomes de Sá
Also another popular Portuguese dish you will find in most households on a Friday (as Friday is fish day in Portugal). When this recipe is made with fresh ingredients, it is super-duper tasty.
Bacalhau com Natas
A winter traditional Portuguese recipe that is the ULTIMATE comfort food. Made with cream and layer upon layer of potatoes, onions, and codfish. It is baked in the oven and served with a glass of good white wine.
Bacalhau Assado com Batata a Murro
Also known as bacalhau à Lagareiro in central Portugal. This dish can be prepared in two ways, one where the cod fish is grilled (A brasa) and then served with potatoes and a healthy drizzle of olive oil, or baked in the oven. Both taste amazing and loved by the Portuguese people.
Thousand ways to cook bacalhau
There are many variations of bacalhau dishes in Portugal, and nearly all of them consist of the same ingredients, olive oil, potatoes, olives, onion, parsley, and garlic.
Looking at it from a funny sense, it seems as though every farmer grew the same crops and had chickens. Then they decided to compete with how they cooked these ingredients and gave their dish a different name. Whether its fact or fiction, there is no denying that each dish is special with its flavours and that they are all delicious.
Portugal traditional food
Traditional Portuguese cuisine is not really known worldwide and goes under the radar a bit. The many Portuguese dishes you can try in Portugal will delight any food lover and give them a reason to take a trip to Portugal.
From sweet pastries to different meat dishes, and a selection of vegetarian recipes. Portugal has something for everyone.
Bucho & Maranho – Now this recipe is EXQUISITE. Not even the Portuguese people of Lisbon have heard of it. It originated from the small but beautiful town of Sertã in central Portugal. They have a festival of this famous Portuguese dish every year in July. Maranho is a mixture of goat meat, rice, chouriço, mint, and Bucho is a mixture of pork and chicken meat that is baked in pork skin.
Pastel de nata – Is by far the most famous of pastries in the country and tastes like a small custard tart. Originally known as Pastéis de Belém, they originated from Belém in Lisbon and have a factory there where they produce them by the thousand. These little beauties go perfectly with a morning coffee!!
Polvo à lagareiro – If you’re a fan of octopus, then you should try this dish! It is made with enough garlic to kill a vampire or stop your partner from kissing you for the rest of the day and accompanied by the usual suspects of potatoes.
Cozido à portuguesa – Popular in restaurants and is a national treasure. This flavourful dish is made with a host of garden veggies and a selection of meats that is a must-try when visiting Portugal.
Grilled sardines – Are another one of Portugal’s national treasures. Sardines are sold and cooked by the bucket load. You can smell them all over the place in the summertime when barbecue season starts, and they taste amazing when accompanied by a Sagres or SuperBock beer.
Arroz de Pato – Translated means duck rice. Though it may seem a bit bland, it is very flavoursome and consists of many ingredients that give this dish its unique taste.
Bitoque and fried egg – Next on the list is basically a thin garlic marinated steak with chips and a fried egg. What makes this dish special is that it is a BUDGET-FRIENDLY dish that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and is the perfect Portuguese food to eat when you are unsure of what to eat in a restaurant.
Francesinha – Lastly on our list of traditional Portuguese dishes is the Francesinha Sandwich. Created in the city of Porto, it has a secret recipe sauce that consists of many ingredients, including beer and spicy tomato that covers a tall meaty sandwich with melted cheese on top.
Easy traditional Portuguese food recipes to make at home
Caldo verde is a healthy veggie soup perfect for any starter and easily prepared.
1 onion. 2 garlic gloves. 4 potatoes. a bag of kale (around 200 grams). 4 Portuguese sausages (either
Linguica or Chourigo). 500ml veg stock. salt and pepper to taste.
1 – Finely chop the onion and garlic. then sauté in a pan until brown.2 • Peel and chop the potatoes and add them to the pan
3 – Add veg stock so it covers the potatoes and boil for 30 minutes until soft.
4 -Then blend ingredients into a pulp. add salt and pepper. and additional stock so it becomes a thinner consistency
S – Chop the Portuguese sausage into small pieces and sauté until cooked
6 – Chop the kale into thin strips and add it to the soup as well as the cooked sausage.
7 – cook for an extra 10 minutes until it has combined wel and serve.
Pastéis de bacalhau
Pasteis de bacalhau is a quick and easy recipe to prepare for parties or as a small appetizer.
250g cod fish, 400g potatoes, 1 onion, a bunch of parsley, 3 eggs, and Vegetable or canola oil for
1 – Boil the potatoes whole with the skin for about 30 mins or until cooked.
2 – Peel the skin off the potatoes and mash them up.
3 – Boil the cod fish for 20 minutes and remove any bones and skin.
4 – Strip the bacalhau into pieces and mix with the mashed potatoes.
5 – Finely chop the onion and parsley. Then mix into mashed potatoes.
6 – Add the eggs 1 at a time into mixture until it is well combined and the mixture is firm.
7 – shape the mixture into balls by hands or with a spoon and fry them in hot oil.
8 – When the bacalhau balls are golden brown in colour, take them out of the fryer and serve.
This is one of the Portuguese dishes everyone can make at home as it involves basic ingredients.
1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water, 2 cups of whole milk, 2 egg yolks, 1 cup of sugar, a few drops of vanilla
essence, the rind of 1 lemon,
and cinnamon for finishing.
1 – Boil the water and add the rice to it. Cover it and turn on low heat for 20 mins.
2 – Add the milk, vanilla essence, lemon rind and sugar to the rice.
3 – keep boiling on low and string occasionally until it gets thicker.
4 – Beat the egg yolks and it to the rice.
5 – The rice should be very soft and the mixture consistency should be thick and yellow in colour.
6 – Pour onto a plate removing the lemon rind. Flatten and smooth it out, then leave to cool.
7 – Once it’s cold you can add the cinnamon on top and serve.
Bacalhau à brás
A quick and absolutely delicious dish.
1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 potatoes, 25g olives, bunch of parsley, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 5
eggs, 500g codfish, frying oil
1 – Sauté the minced onion and garlic in a pan with olive oil until until soft.
2 – Add the codfish to the pan until it breaks up and becomes soft.
3 – Slice the potatoes into thin long pieces (like French fries). Then fry them in hot oil until golden
4 – Add the thin fries to the codfish mixture and combine well (the fries will become soft).
5 – Mix the eggs together and then add them to the pan mixing constantly to not get lumps.
6 – Once the egg is completely mixed in the mixture will become thick.
7 – Add mixture to a plate and serve with olives and chopped parsley.
Delicious Portuguese dishes with funny names
peixinhos da horta – Little fishes of the garden. It is a typical petisco (tapas) in Portugal that is made with green beans and not fish. The reason it is called peixinhos ( little fishes) is that when the beans are fried, they resemble small colourful fish.
Sopa de pedra – Stone soup – Also, a very popular soup that does not represent its name. It is a garden vegetable soup that was made a long time ago where some guy had a bet that he could make a soup with a stone. The legend has it that he added the stone to a pan of water, and added lots of vegetables to it and called it stone soup.
Bacalhau Assado com Batata a Murro – Baked codfish with punch potatoes. They are called punch potatoes because they are punched with a fork to squash them after being baked.
Pica-Pau – woodpecker – This meaty beef dish is found throughout Portugal and was created in the Ribatejo region. (does not contain woodpecker)
Arroz de pica no chão – Pricked rice on the ground. The name is very misleading here. It is a stewed chicken dish with flavoursome rice. This is one of the renowned Portuguese dishes you must try.
Popular Portuguese desserts
Without going through the whole selection of sweets you can find here, I have selected some of the most common desserts you will find in most restaurants.
Arroz doce – A sweet rice pudding that is eaten cold and flavoured with cinnamon. The rice is boiled with milk, sugar, cream, for hours and left to go cold before sprinkling cinnamon on top. Simple and delicious!
Serradura – A very typical dessert you can find anywhere. It is my personal favourite of all Portuguese desserts and consists of crushed biscuits, whipped cream, condensed milk and cinnamon.
Bolo de bolacha – This and Serradura are my two favs hands down. This one is a slightly heavier dessert and is rather high on the calorie scale, but still tastes amazing. It’s a Buttercream coffee dessert with biscuits.
Baba de Camelo – Think of baked condensed milk, and you will not be far off from what this is. Caramel lovers should hit this up. It’s smooth, silky and very Moorish.
Doce da Casa – This recipe may vary depending on which place you try it, but it is mainly a vanilla custard dessert in a glass that hides a biscuit inside and topped with whipped cream and some chocolate sprinkles.
Is Portuguese salted cod fish healthy
Cod fish is healthy when cooked and contains lots of nutrients that contribute to a healthy immune system. As the Portuguese codfish is dried and salted, you would need to desalt it properly to reduce the sodium intake, otherwise your blood pressure will fly through the roof.
My name is David Greenhalgh, I am 32 years young and I am married and have a beautiful daughter.
I am a professional chef, a writer, and a full time super-dad. My main passions are cooking and football, but now I have found a new love for content writing.
Your explanation about Portuguese cuisine is just Amazing. Thank you for your knowledge David, and please, keep spreading the word about the beautiful things Portugal has to offer. Great job. All the best David, for you and your family. Kind regards, your friend Nelson Francisco.