From picturesque whitewashed villages to stunning beaches Algarve has it all. However, with so much on offer, it is easy to overlook the area’s mouth-watering delicacies. Whether you are visiting or live in the region and just need to be reminded, here are some of Algarve’s top culinary specialties.
Cataplana de Marisco
Let’s face it, we are not all blessed with fresh seafood on our doorsteps. Most European countries - be it Germany, Austria or Poland - feature areas that are far from the ocean. Being a coastal region, Algarve is definitely not one of these places - a status reflected in its numerous seafood dishes.
Cataplana de Marisco is a mix of clams, squid, prawns and any other fresh seafood that is on hand at the time. The ingredients are fried with white wine, tomatoes and herbs to create a simple yet flavorful dish. The name of this popular Portuguese specialty references the cataplana, a copper cooking pot unique to Algarve.
Conquilhas à Algarvia
Fresh and succulent clams take center stage in this Algarve specialty. The dish usually comes with fried garlic, onion and Portuguese sausage. The delicious concoction is often also sprinkled with coriander or parsley.
“Shellfish are not only delicious but are a great source of zinc, protein and healthy fats,” says nutrition expert from the website www.FitForBeach.de. “This can both improve your immune system and aid weight loss - something to think about if you want to get in shape for the summer.”
One of Portugal’s most satisfying treats, leitão, or suckling pig, can be found in many restaurants across Algarve. The dish is made with a piglet that is less than two months old.
The meat is usually smothered in herbs and roasted over a wood fire. The process can take up to 24 hours, which leaves the piglet tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. While not the healthiest of dishes, leitão more than makes up for this with its taste.
While frango piri-piri, or piri-piri chicken, is usually associated with Guia, a small town near Albufeira, it can be found across the region. As simple as it is delicious, the dish has no set recipe with most restaurants laying claim to secret ingredients that make their offering the best in town.
The star ingredient of frango piri-piri is whole chicken that has been marinated in a concoction of ingredients such as olive oil, garlic, pepper and lemon juice. While frango piri-piri is often grilled in an oven, the best version of the dish is made over coal. This is great news for the health-conscious since fat gets extracted from the meat during the grilling process, which means more bad stuff in the grill pit and less in your belly.
Portugal is not the only country that looks at feijoada as its national dish. The stew is also very popular in Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and even Macau. Hearty and filling, the dish is usually made with beans, pork, beef and vegetables (sometimes even pig trotters and ears are also used). Herbs are often added to taste.
The dish usually comes with rice and sausages such as morcela, or blood sausage. The sausage is either served on the side or cooked in the stew.