Portugal, a country known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture, is also a gastronomic paradise. Portuguese cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavours, influenced by Mediterranean and Atlantic traditions, making it unique and utterly delicious. In this article, we will take you on a culinary journey through Portugal, highlighting the 5 best Portuguese foods and dishes that you must try when visiting this enchanting country.
In this article, we will take you on a culinary journey to explore the 5 best Portuguese foods and dishes that are not only mouthwateringly delicious but also steeped in tradition and flavour. So, get ready to savour the best Portuguese food has to offer!
1. Bacalhau à Brás
Our journey through Portuguese cuisine begins with one of the most iconic dishes - Bacalhau à Brás. "Bacalhau" is Portuguese for codfish, and this dish is a testament to Portugal's love affair with this salted fish. The dish is a harmonious blend of flavours and textures that will tantalize your taste buds.
Bacalhau à Brás is made by shredding salted codfish into small pieces, then sautéing it with finely chopped onions and straw fries. The mixture is then bound together with beaten eggs, seasoned with parsley and garlic, and cooked until the eggs are creamy. It's a symphony of savoury, salty, and creamy goodness that's bound to leave you craving for more.
This dish is often served with a side of olives and a refreshing salad, making it a wholesome and satisfying meal. When in Portugal, trying Bacalhau à Brás is a must for any food lover, and it undoubtedly deserves its place among the best Portuguese foods.
To truly savour this dish like a local, try it at a traditional tasca (a small, local eatery). Pair it with a glass of Vinho Verde, a crisp and refreshing Portuguese white wine, to enhance the flavours.
2. Pastéis de Nata
No discussion of the best Portuguese food would be complete without mentioning Pastéis de Nata. These sweet, custard-filled pastries are an absolute delight and a staple in Portuguese bakeries.
Pastéis de Nata, also known as Portuguese custard tarts, consist of a flaky, buttery pastry shell filled with a luscious, creamy custard. The custard is usually flavoured with hints of vanilla and cinnamon, giving it a warm and inviting aroma. These tarts are then baked to perfection, resulting in a crispy, caramelized top that beautifully complements the silky custard inside.
The history of Pastéis de Nata dates back to the 18th century when they were created by Catholic monks in Lisbon. Today, they are enjoyed throughout Portugal and around the world, with each bakery putting its unique spin on the classic recipe. Whether you enjoy them warm or at room temperature, these custard tarts are an absolute must-try when exploring Portuguese cuisine.
Head to the historic Antiga Confeitaria de Belém in Lisbon, where you can savor these iconic tarts in the very place where they were first created. Don't forget to dust them with cinnamon for an extra layer of flavour.
Next up on our list of the best Portuguese foods is Francesinha. Often dubbed as the "Portuguese sandwich," this hearty and indulgent dish hails from the beautiful city of Porto. If you're a fan of sandwiches and spicy flavours, you're in for a treat.
A Francesinha is essentially a sandwich filled with layers of cured meats, such as ham and linguiça (a type of smoked sausage), and topped with a thick layer of melted cheese. What makes it truly special is the spicy tomato and beer sauce that smothers the sandwich, adding a fiery kick to the creamy and cheesy goodness. It's then typically served with a side of crispy French fries, creating a perfect balance of flavors and textures.
The name "Francesinha" means "little Frenchie" in Portuguese, possibly a nod to its French-inspired sandwich concept. However, it's distinctly Portuguese in its execution, with that spicy sauce setting it apart. When visiting Porto, make sure to sample this unique and delicious creation, and you'll understand why it's one of the best Portuguese foods.
Pair your Francesinha with a cold glass of Super Bock, a popular Portuguese beer, to balance the heat of the sauce and enhance the overall experience.
4. Arroz de Marisco
Our culinary journey through Portugal wouldn't be complete without exploring its seafood offerings, and Arroz de Marisco, or seafood rice, is a shining example of Portuguese seafood cuisine at its finest.
This dish combines the bounty of the sea with the rich flavours of Portuguese rice and aromatic spices. The star ingredients of Arroz de Marisco can vary but often include a selection of seafood such as prawns, clams, mussels, and sometimes even lobster or crab. These seafood treasures are gently simmered with rice, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and an array of herbs and spices, including saffron for that characteristic golden hue.
The result is a flavourful and hearty rice dish that's brimming with the essence of the ocean. The seafood is perfectly cooked, and the rice absorbs all the delicious flavours of the broth, creating a symphony of tastes and textures that will transport your taste buds to the Portuguese coast.
Arroz de Marisco is a favourite among locals and visitors alike, especially in coastal regions where fresh seafood is abundant. If you're a seafood enthusiast, this dish is a must-try when exploring the best Portuguese food options.
Visit a coastal town like Cascais or Nazaré for the freshest seafood dishes. Enjoy your Arroz de Marisco with a glass of Vinho Verde or a crisp Alvarinho wine for the perfect pairing.
5. Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato
If you're a seafood enthusiast, Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato should be on your must-try list. This dish features tender clams cooked in a heavenly garlic and cilantro-infused olive oil sauce. The flavours are fresh, fragrant, and incredibly moreish. You'll find this seafood delight at coastal towns and seafood-focused restaurants, particularly in the Algarve region.
Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato are prepared by sautéing fresh clams in olive oil, garlic, and a generous sprinkling of chopped cilantro and parsley. A splash of white wine adds depth to the broth, while a squeeze of zesty lemon juice completes this aromatic masterpiece. Served with crusty bread for soaking up the flavorful sauce, this dish is a true taste of Portugal's coastal treasures.
Order some crusty Portuguese bread to mop up the delicious sauce – it's a game-changer.
Portuguese cuisine is a delightful blend of flavours, history, and tradition, and these 5 best Portuguese foods and dishes represent just a small taste of what this culinary wonderland has to offer. From the iconic Bacalhau à Brás to the sweet indulgence of Pastéis de Nata, each dish tells a unique story of Portugal's rich culinary heritage.
So, when you find yourself in Portugal, don't miss the opportunity to savour these delectable dishes and explore the diverse world of Portuguese cuisine. Whether you're a fan of seafood, savoury stews, or sweet pastries, Portugal's food scene has something to satisfy every palate. Indulge in the best Portuguese food and experience the delicious charm of this gastronomic gem.