Portuguese food

The food of Portugal is rich, & has a depth of intensity just like its people.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dried Cod Fish with potatoes & eggs - Bacalhau a Bras

Merry Christmas everyone.
My apologies for not posting in so long, but now that I'm feeling better I'm less home bound & seem to have less time to blog.
During Christmas the Portuguese generally eat Bacalhau (Codfish,dried), as it's really the national food & is very much loved by the Portuguese.

It's made from shreds of codfish, fried potatoes, caramelised onions, scrambled eggs & garnished with black olives & parsley.This has to be one of my favorite meals ever, I love the saltiness of the codfish & the creaminess of the eggs.

It's a simple & easy dish to prepare, it's usually eaten at lunch or dinner.


  • 3 medium onions, peeled & sliced thinly
  • 8 garlic cloves,peeled & chopped
  • 200ml olive oil
  • 5 large potatoes, peeled & cut into french fried batons
  • 1lt oil for frying
  • 400g dried codfish
  • 10 eggs large size
  • 100ml milk
  • 3 tea salt
  • 2 tab parsley chopped
  • 1 tab parsley chopped, extra for garnish
  • 15 black olives 

1. Soak the codfish over night in cold water changing the water 2 or 3 times to remove the salt.
One the salt has been removed pull the codfish apart into shreds using your hands.

2.  In a large fry pan heat the olive oil on medium heat add the onions & fry for 3 min then add the garlic cook the onions till there soft but don't have too much colour.
Then add the codfish shreds & the parsley cook for 3 min, once this is done leave it to the side off the heat until the potatoes are fried.

3. Fry the potatoes in small batches  in hot oil till golden brown.As the potatoes cook drain them on absorbent paper.

4. In a bowl break your eggs then mix them with a fork then add the milk & the salt.

5. Put the onion & codfish mix back on the stove on high heat, add the potatoes giving a quick stir, than add the egg mix stirring with a wooden spoon.
Scramble the eggs till there cooked ( I like it slightly runny).
Sprinkle the dish with chopped parsley & garnish with black olives on top.

  • Adding a bit of milk makes the eggs mixture lighter
  • No need to over cook the codfish as this will make it dry, so just cook it for the suggested time as it will cook again once you add the egg mixture.
  • I haven't included a lot of salt as codfish can be quite salty so feel free to add extra if you like.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Braised Pork & Chickpeas - Porco com Grao de Bico

I sometimes sit around trying to deciding what I can make for dinner, like many of you I'm sure. Having this blog makes it twice as hard as I don't want to show case things I've made before,  I want to show the best of what Portuguese food has to offer.
So during the week I make lots of different type of food Italian, French, Middle eastern & lots of Asian dishes, but since I started this blog, I try to cook at least 2 Portuguese meals a week.

The food I grew up with, is like most peasant food, the taste is unbelievably good but visually it can sometimes look unappealing especially when you want to take a photo.
Since starting this blog I've learnt to tweak a recipe here & there or totally modernise it, to the Australian palette.
A few are totally original where I've kept it totally authentic, others I've had to reduce the amount of oil or reduce the cooking time, changing cooking methods to bring out the best of the ingredients or omit ingredients that I dislike such as pigs ears, pigs feet, intestines.

This dish falls into the changing category, traditionally this dish has pigs ears, the meat is boiled with aromatics & potatoes.
I changed the dish by using pork scotch as it requires less cooking time & needs to just be lightly braised. The marbling in the meat gives it a rich flavour. I've also added capsicum paste to add depth  giving it a robust flavour, as well as making it visually appealing.
It has all the ingredients the Portuguese love pork & chickpeas.

Serves 6- 8 people

  • 1.3kg scotch pork
  • 2 tab capsicum paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 375g dry chickpeas
  • 200ml olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 chorizo, sliced in half then cut into chunks
  • 1 red capsicum, cut into chunks
  • 1 tea smokey paprika
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 tab parsley, chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tab salt
  • 2 tab parsley chopped extra for garnish

1. Cut the meat into cubes, then add the capsicum paste, garlic, stir the ingredients until well combined in a bowl adding the wine at the end. Allow the meat to marinate overnight.
Place the chickpeas in a large bowl, then cover with double the amount of water & soak over night.

2. Drain the chickpeas & place them into a pot covering them in water, then bring to the boil cooking them till there tender, then drain. Put them aside till needed.
In a deep casserole pot, heat oil on a medium heat, add the onions, garlic cook for 3 min then adding the chorizo & cook till the onion is soft & the chorizo brown.Then add the capsicum cook a further 1 min.
Add the paprika cook for 1min then add the tomatoes, white wine, parsley, bay leaves, water, chickpeas, salt. Cook on medium heat for 20min.

3. In a fry pan add more oil to fry pan, heat the pan on high heat then add the pork in small batches, cook for 4 min or until the pork is browned on all sides. Place the pork in bowl until all the meat has been fried.

4. Place all the pork into the stewed chickpeas & simmer on med/high for 10- 12min, sprinkle 1 tab of chopped parsley on top.
Serve the dish with boiled potatoes.

  • Make sure that when you cook the chickpeas no salt is added to the beans otherwise the beans won't become soft
  • Check to make sure the capsicum is soft before you add the pork
  • Don't over cook the pork other wise it will become dry & tough, so after 10 minutes check to see if the meat is cooked. It's tender enough that it doesn't need a long cooking time

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shopping Trip to Petersham

Once every 3 months I take a pilgrimage to Petersham, the home of Portuguese food, restaurants & cafes.
My trip usually starts at Charlie's deli where I pick up imported food from Portugal. I'm a massive believer in buying local & do so very often, but I just can't resist buying good imported food that  can't be found here in Australia, especially when it brings back memories of my visits to Portugal over the years.
Then I go to the pastry shops & pick up a few custard tarts & other Portuguese delicacies.
On this day I bought dried codfish that's been de boned (sacrilege to codfish purists), capsicum paste, calamari with ink, peach fruit juice & passion fruit soft drink called Sumol.
I always have a giggle when I buy this drink, I reminisce about the time when I was 8 & was in Portugal for the first time.
We arrived in Lisbon Portugal that day, my father decided to show us Portugal so we disembarked in Lisbon & caught a taxi ( which in those days was cheap) to the south of Portugal, a 5- 6 hour trip in those days, with the new highway it only takes 3 today.
On the way to the Algarve (the south) we stopped at a road side cafe to have some lunch.
My father asked my younger sister & I if we'd like to drink a Sumol (small) & my sister & I said in unison "no, we want a large."

After a day of shopping I decided to use some of these goodies & had a casual dinner.

I bought this coconut cake (Pao de Deus, which translated means bread of God).
My sister in law once told me how much she missed eating this cake or bread so when I saw that it was available at the bakery I snapped it up. It's a bit like a sweet bun with coconut on top. I think it's Portugal's version of a finger bun (sweet bun with pink icing on top).
My sister in law said she used to buy hers at school just as I'm sure a lot of you may have bought your finger bun at.

I bought this doughnut for me at La Patisserie. When I was in Portugal I honestly become addicted to these, they are called Bola de Berlim which when translated means ball of Berlin.
Unfortunately you can't get them exactly like they are in Portugal.
The Portuguese version has a thick yellow custard, delicious. This one featured, unfortunately can't compare to the original.

 These are what you get in Portugal. This photo is not from my private collection,I found this photo on the net.

As the weather is warming up here I decided to make us a simple, no fuss dinner.
Delicious garlicky chorizo.

Just a plain omelet made with fried garlic & parsley

 Prosciutto (Prosunto) & Italian sopressa

Most Portuguese have a garden where they grow there own fruit & vegetables.
At the moment were growing tomatoes, rocket & several herbs.

Charlie's Deli
37 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham
Ph: 9560 4037

La Patisserie
45 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham
02 9569 1107

Friday, November 19, 2010

Octopus with Potatoes - Polvo Lagareiro

I think octopus is one of those foods you either love or hate (maybe squirm at).
In Australia as in most western countries,octopus is as foreign & unknown to the Australian palette as Vegemite would be to the Portuguese.
When I was travelling around Portugal, octopus was everywhere & is much loved by the Portuguese.
When I was in Portugal, I had a memorable dish called polvo lagareiro, it was so delicious that I had to try & find the recipe & recreate it.
We found this nice small cafe/restaurant in the middle of Lisbon, it looked like nothing special, in fact it seemed a little bit touristy. Which are the type of places I stay well clear of.That old saying of you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover was definitely true in this situation. 

Braising the octopus makes it really really tender.I've heard & read people say that octopus is quite difficult to cook,you need to add a cork to tenderise it or you have to freeze it,then cook it, as fresh is too difficult to work with, but they all couldn't be further from the truth.
The truth is, all that's needed is a bit of TLC.

Lagareiro is a a style of cooking that's usually used on seafood,the dish is baked in the oven with flavors & then is grilled or BBQ  then drizzled with large amounts of olive oil.
I think this style of cooking is similar to the french style on confit.
I've modernised the dish slightly, & have used less olive oil to dress the dish.
If you've never tried octopus then I encourage you to try it.It's a dish that can be put in a roasting pan or pot & braised slowly with any ingredients you fancy. It's my version of a pot roast.

  • 2 kg large whole octopus
  • 4 cups olive oil
  • 2 cups whits wine
  • 1 bunch parsley chopped
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 large potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1 tab salt

1. Clean the octopus by cutting the tentacles into pieces, then remove the eyes.

2. In a large deep baking dish, lay all the octopus on the bottom of the dish, then pour the olive oil, the white wine, bay leaves, half the parsley & salt onto the octopus, cover with foil.
Bake in a medium oven 170 degrees for 45 min.

3. After 45min remove the octopus from the liquid, leaving it to one side.
Make sure the octopus is tender, if not cook a further 20 min or until the octopus is tender.
Add the potatoes to the liquid & bake for 30 min, uncovered or till the potatoes are tender.

4. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a fry pan on medium heat, add add a bit of olive oil to a fry pan.
Once the oil is hot add the octopus & fry the octopus on both sides till they are golden brown & crispy.

5. Once the potatoes are cooked, sprinkle the rest of  the chopped parsley over the potatoes.  Once the octopus is fried, assemble the dish.
Put 3 pieces of potatoes on a plate the add the octopus placing it on top of the potatoes.
Pour the liquid from the baking dish on top of the octopus & serve.
Serve the dish with either a green salad or cooked green beans.

  • If you find the liquid is going dry add 1/2 a cup of water to the dish
  • You can either pan fry the octopus or BBQ the pieces. 

This is the octopus dish I had in the cafe/restaurant in Portugal. Check out the amount of oil.
The octopus was beautifully tender.



Monday, October 25, 2010

Review of Portuguese Custard Tarts - Pastel de Nata

Thank you to one of my readers for the suggestion of this blog post, I hope you like it.
When I was in my 20's the humble Portuguese tart wasn't really known outside the Portuguese community,  & the only place you could buy them was at the Portuguese bakeries in Petersham, where they cost 0.60c each, yes you heard me right they cost less than a dollar. I can't believe the cost of them these days $3 each.Ok enough winging, I sound like one of those old people talking about the good old days when things where so cheap.
Now the Portuguese tart is everywhere, & most I have to say aren't very good. The only place I'll buy them at is in Petershem, Sydney.

There are 3 Portuguese bakerie shops in Petersham, they all offer coffee & a variation of Portuguese & Australian sweets.
I had the help of my husband & sister in law who where both taste testers & gave me their opinion on each tart.

The first place is Honeymoon, we all agreed the custard tarts here where nice.
The pastry was crispy, the custard was nice, not too sweet & not bland.
I know it may seem strange to say you don't want a sweet tart, but if they are too sweet the flavour of the custard can be spoilt. What your looking for is a tart that has just the right balance.
Price was $1.70 each

Honeymoon Patisserie
45 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham
02 9564 2389

The 2nd patisserie was La Patisserie.
The tarts here I found to be not very good.
The pastry we all found to be stale & rubbery, not very pleasant to eat.
The custard was too sweet & floury, which made the custard thick & dense.

Price: $2 each

La Patisserie
45 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham
02 9569 1107

The 3rd was Sweet Belem.
The pasrty on these tarts were the crispiest & the flakiest out of all of the tarts we tried.
The custard was very nice, & was just right in sweetness. It  was velvety, creamy & soft, not too thich & not runny.
The tarts here come with cinnamon which I really like. They are also very similar to the tarts you can get in the Belem distict of Portugal.
They are the most expensive out of the 3, but also different to what is out there.
Price:$3 each

Sweet Belem
35B New Canterbury Rd, Petersham
02 9572 6685

Overall I found Sweet Belem's tart to be the best, their pastry was the best, very very crispy. I don't think there is any where in Sydney that has the cripiest pastry.At $3 ea they are the most expensive out of the 3, but when you compare what's to out there, these are worth it. Most cafe's aroundSydney sell them at $3 & aren't as good.

My second pick is Honeymoon
The pastry was nice & the custard was great as well. At $1.70 they are probably the cheapest tarts in Sydney, & well worth it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pork with Clams,potatoes & coriander - Porco a Alentejana

As you all know after a very long illness, I am slowly coming out of it, for the first time in over a year I entertained, something I love doing.
Friends were invited over, the special plates come out & the Portuguese food was on show.
The dish I made was my friends favorite dish as well as mine, something he orders at every Portuguese restaurant.

Porco à Alentejana is one of the most traditional and popular pork dishes of Portuguese cuisine. It is typical from the Alentejo region, in Portugal, hence the word Alentejana (from Alentejo) in its name. It is a combination of pork and clams with fried potatoes and coriander.

Serves  4 - 6

  • 1 kg pork shoulder or loin, cut into cubes
  • 4 garlic cloves cut into slivers
  • 2 tab massa de pimenta ( capsicum paste )
  • 1 tab sweet paprika 
  • 1 tea chili paste (optional)
  • 500ml dry white wine
  • 1 tab salt
  • 1 tea white pepper
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1300 kg diced potato
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 1 kg clams
  • 1 bunch coriander,chopped ( leave 1 tab for decoration)
  • deep frying oil

1. Cut the pork shoulder into cubes. In a bowl add the garlic, capsicum paste, salt, bay leaves,paprika, chili paste  & combine thoroughly, then add the white wine & leave to marinate a minimum 2 hours or over night.

2. Once the meat has marinated, drain the meat in a colander, keeping a bowl under neath so 
the liquid is reserved.

3. Fry the potatoes in clean hot oil. Fry the potatoes in batches. Leave the potatoes to the side, until your ready to finish them off.


4. In a fry pan heat a bit of oil. Once the oil is hot add the pork in batches, adding the garlic, & fry for 3 min, stirring the pork, half way through add a bit of the reserved liquid allowing it to reduce for 3 min.
Remove the pork from the pan & set it aside in a bowl.
Then repeat the process until all the pork  is cooked & the liquid is used up.

5. Reheat the deep frying oil & recook the potatoes, until crispy.

6. Add all the pork back into the pan, & on high heat add the clams, tossing them threw the meat.
Once the clams are opened add the coriander & half the the potatoes, tossing it all together.Taste for seasoning, add extra salt if it needs it.

7. Place the dish into a large serving platter & add the rest of the crispy potatoes on top, sprinkle a bit of extra coriander on top & serve.

Serve with a garden salad.

  • I used the imported capsicum paste, but you can use any, I blogged about capsicum paste last month, so look it up.
  • Fry the meat in batches, leaving it slightly pink so as no to over cook it & dry it out. Once you reheat it, cook it a bit longer to cook it through.
  • The reason I recook the potatoes is so that they crisp up & don't go soggy. It's called blanching.
  • Any clams that don't open throw them out & don't eat them.
  • Fry the meat in small batches otherwise the meat will stew & become tough.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Creme Brulee - Tijelada


I love all things custard ever since I went to Portugal 2 years ago. Custards are everywhere in Portugal, first there's Leite de creme ( which translated means milk cream), Tigelada ( Brulee ), creme caramel, & numerous other eggy type custard that are placed in cakes or doughnuts.

For my recent birthday I received two great gifts, 1 was a mini blow torch that I'd been wanting for ages & the other was these great little pots that had the cutest colours.
I decided to make Creme brulee,which in Portugal is called Tijelada.
I used the recipe from the Masterchef site as it looked great, & make one of  the best brulee's ever.


Recipe ( Makes 6 large pots )

  • 1,200lt cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half & scraped of seeds or 2 tea vanilla essence
  • 12 egg yolks
  •  1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 240g demarura sugar or caster sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees

2. Place cream, vanilla bean & seeds in a saucepan over medium heat & bring to scalding point, then remove from the heat. Remove the vanilla bean & discard.

3. Whisk together the egg yolks & caster sugar in a bowl for 2-3 min until pale in colour.

4. Pour hot cream over the yolks, continuing to whisk until well combined.
Strain mixture into a jug & pour into ramekins.

5. Carefully place ramekins into a deep roasting pan & pour boiling water into the pan, coming  half  way up the sides of the ramekins. 
Cover the ramekins loosely with foil.

  • Scalding the cream means just as it's starting to boil.
  • Strain the mixture so that you remove any shell or bits that haven't mixed through
  • Be sure not to over cook the custard, when you remove it from the oven it should still be a bit wobbly but not overly wobbly.
  • Allow it set in the fridge
  • A brulee should be velvety smooth & slightly thick, never grainy & watery.

6.  Bake in the oven for 40 min or until the custard has just set. Remove ramekins from the water bath & set aside to cool. Then refrigerate for 2 hours.

7. Sprinkle with demerura sugar evenly over the surface of the baked custards.
Run a kitchen blow torch over the custards until the sugar bubbles & caramelises.

The perfect brulee, beautiful soft creamy custard & a crunchy toffee topping.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Red Capsicum Paste - Massa de Pimentao

I've been promising to blog about this paste for months & finely here it is. The main reason being I was waiting till capsicums were in season, I hate using things out of season.
A lot of the recipes I have used in this blog includes capsicum paste & so it was really time to include it.
I used this paste quite extensively in Portugal & become a huge fan of it. I was so disappointed when I got back & couldn't find it anywhere. After one of my Petersham pilgrimages I saw that they'd started to import it.
You can use the paste as a marinate on fish, poultry, meat, add it to stews  or  add a tablespoon in a stir fry with a bit of white wine & herbs, & you have a delicious sauce. 
I'm not sure  where this paste originated from, although the Algarve people tend to use it a lot.
It really adds just that extra bit of taste to any bland dish.
I've included 3 different types of capsicum paste, the first is my home made version, the second is a bought one from Petersham deli ( they stock Portuguese products ) & the third is European.

This is my home made version. It's delicious & really easy to make.
Makes 800g

  • 4 large red capsicum
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 tab salt

1. Roast capsicums on a tray, until the skin is black & blistered.

2. Once the capsicums are cooked put them into a bowl & cover with cling film.
 Once the capsicum are cooled, peel the skin & remove the seeds. Pat dry the capsicums to     remove any excess  moisture.

3. Add the capsicum, garlic, salt & olive oil to a food processor & blend till smooth.

 4. Put the mixture into jar containers, adding a bit of oil on top. This prevents mould growing & keeps the mixture for longer.

  This capsicum paste  is imported from Portugal & bought from - Charlie's Deli
37 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham, Sydney
Ph: 9560 4037    
The paste has a richer flavour than the home made one.

This capsicum paste is from Hungry or Croatian ( I'm not really sure ) & is similar to the home made version. It can be found at any supermarket in Sydney. I do find this paste a bit oily, so I use half the amount. I used to use this product before I could get the imported Portuguese paste.

So there you go, all 3 versions of a great paste.
There are lots of recipes in this blog that  use this paste, so feel free to browse & try some out if you like.