A truth needs to be told about the land: in Portugal, you eat well. Portuguese gastronomy offers rich sweets, abundant seafood, delicious wines, an immense variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as meats of all shapes and tastes.
For those who are good at cooking and would like to try these flavors up close, follow in our article today which are some of the main typical dishes of Portuguese gastronomy and learn to study gastronomy in Lusitanian lands.
The main examples of Portuguese gastronomy
Ready to experience this parade of delights? It is so much good that after reading it, you will feel the urge to travel to Lusitanian lands just to taste all that is best in Portuguese gastronomy!
Portuguese conventual sweets
Convent sweets are recipes made by nuns in convents. They have a large amount of egg yolks and sugar, as well as flour and, eventually, almonds.
Conventual sweets as we know them today became part of Portuguese gastronomy in the 15th century, when sugar began to be introduced in recipes. At that time, the country was the largest egg producer in Europe, but it exported egg whites for ironing clothes or for wine production. With that, there was a surplus of gems that was wasted.
When sugar began to invade Portugal other Portuguese territories, such as Madeira Island and Brazil itself, he and the egg yolks were added to the production of sweets. In each part of the Portuguese territory, different recipes were created with the same elements, making each region still have its typical conventual sweet.
Pastel de Belém or pastel de nata: what's the difference?
The best known name of Portuguese gastronomy internationally (in terms of sweets, of course) confuses tourists today! After all, is it pastel de nata or Belém?
The pastel de Belém was a sweet invented by the monks of the Jerónimos Monastery, in Lisbon, a famous local tourist spot. To raise money for his survival one of the monks took his pastries to a store near the monastery to sell.
Shortly thereafter, in 1837, this store started to manufacture the Belém pastries and became the custodian of the recipe, which today is only known to 8 people in the world. Today, the establishment is called Pastéis de Belém and repeats every day the same recipe centuries ago.
But… What about the custard tarts?
The pastéis de nata are the result of recipes created to try to copy the pastel de Belém. Therefore, no pastel de nata will be a pastel de Belém, since it is not produced in the same factory or with the same recipe.
And, as each place creates its pastel de nata, you end up finding different flavors and textures for it, in the different establishments. This, of course, does not mean that the custard tarts are not delicious either.
The bacon the sky looks like a kind of low cake and very moist dough, originating in the north of the country (the cities that are most famous for this sweet are Guimarães, Murça and Trás-os-Montes).
It is made with pearl sugar, ground almonds and many yolks, as always. The name “toucinho” came the fact that, originally, he also had lard in the composition.
Sintra is a region very close to Lisbon that houses castles, gardens, beautiful landscapes and a village beyond pleasant. There, the conventual sweets won the famous name of Travesseiros de Sintra, a delight of puff pastry covered in sugar and filled with egg cream with almonds.
This sweet is a spongy and tall cake, with a softer and creamier interior. In Portugal, the most famous city for this recipe is Ovar.
In Brazil, it is known as the famous ‘dream’. It is an original recipe Germany that changed when it arrived in Portugal: the filling of red fruits was replaced by egg cream. This is a sweet that the Portuguese love to enjoy on the beach sand.
A superb sweet of eggs and almonds that is very similar to our Brazilian quindim. Don't leave Portugal without trying a Breeze!
Rice in every way
Rice in the gastronomy of Portugal accompanies many dishes and appears in very different presentations.
In duck rice, for example, it appears more dry, cooked in the oven along with pieces of shredded duck breast and very thin slices of chorizo slices.
As for bean rice (no, it's not beans with rice!), The accompaniment works like a kind of bean risotto, more creamy and wet. In tomato rice, on the other hand, rice is practically the ingredient of a soup, very full of broth and with a lot of tomato flavor.
Very different the Brazilian feijoada, which is traditionally made with black beans, the Portuguese can be made with red or even white beans. It is a kind of stew that mixes different meats, including pieces of pork and sausages, but without farofa and cabbage (a pity!).
And it is also possible to find seafood feijoadas, such as Feijoada de Choco. This one has mollusc as its main ingredient, which can be considered a middle ground between the octopus and the squid.
In one of the most famous songs in Portugal, the lyrics say: “in a Portuguese house there is plenty of bread and wine on the table. And if someone humbly knocks at the door, he sits at the table with us. ”
By the letter, you can already feel that in Portuguese lands, bread is a tradition. It is part of the Portuguese ritual of eating and accompanies all meals.
Here, breads vary widely region to region, whether in color, texture or flavor. The bolo do caco, for example, originates in Madeira Island and is made on tile or plate. This fluffy bread looks a lot like the eastern baos buns or the breads of the Middle East.
Alentejo bread is much larger and denser, often used to eat with soups. The mafra bread is soft on the inside and with a hard shell on the outside, while the god bread looks like a Brazilian sweet bread with coconut shavings. There is no shortage of options!
Sardines and cod
Seafood is abundant in Portugal due to the country's privileged position on the Atlantic.
Here, the Portuguese are very fond of preparing sardines, almost a tradition of homemade Portuguese cuisine. They are made on the grill, usually served whole and accompanied by roasted potatoes, peppers or corn bread.
The famous cod, on the other hand, is the most consumed fish in the country and gains infinite forms of preparation, cod to Brás, with cream to the spiritual, Gomes de Sá to Florentine. Any traditional tavern offers dishes with this fish, which also receives the most varied side dishes.
The most famous of the recipes for Brazilians is cod a brás, which is prepared with olives, potatoes and eggs.
Sausages are what sausages are called in Portuguese gastronomy. There, the meats take a bath treatment in red wine, in addition to spices with garlic, peppers and salt.
Among the most common varieties are chorizo, alheira (made poultry meat, bread, olive oil, lard and garlic) and farinheira (flour, pepper, wine and, currently, pork fat). These last two were created by Portuguese Jews at the time of the inquisition, to simulate the consumption of pork, since they had to pretend to be Christians.
Portuguese stew can actually be several different stews. This is because it can be made with several different mixtures of chicken, beef, pork parts or sausages. You can also take beans, potatoes, carrots, cabbages, rice and various other vegetables in the broth.
That is, the options are endless to assemble your own Portuguese stew.
It is not only in French cuisine that cheeses gain great prominence! It is almost impossible to believe how such a small country manages to have a multitude of different cheeses, with lighter or more striking flavors, more creamy or denser, with more or less curing time.
Try the fresh goat cheese, the Serra da Estrela cream cheese, the Azeitão cheese. Trasmontano, São Jorge cheese, which comes the island of the same name in the Azores and the very famous Serra da Estrela cheese.
The latter is a delicacy of Portuguese cuisine with a buttery texture and made sheep's milk. This cheese is absolutely creamy and, therefore, to eat it you need to cut its top and pass it on toast or bread as a spatula, as if it were melted.
In fact, a lot of Lusitanian cheeses are made with goat and sheep milk, instead of cow, which also gives a lot of variety to the flavor.
The impressive variety of grapes grown in the soil of Portugal makes the country one of the main producers and exporters of good wines around the world. The country is also the largest consumer per capita of wines, which means that the drink can never be lacking in Portuguese homes!
The highlight goes to the producing regions of Douro, Alentejo and, of course, to Port wine, internationally known for its more sweet taste and slightly liqueur texture.