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Algarve Gastronomy

Apart from a high quality international cuisine that stems from the expanding tourism industry, the Algarve is offers a flavourful traditional gastronomy, strongly influenced by the Mediterranean cuisine, with two distinct geographical areas; the coast and the inland areas of the Barrocal and Serra Algarvia. Dishes using fish and shellfish as their main ingredients can be found on the Algarve coast, whereas poultry and pork, along with fresh vegetables and dried pulses are the primary ingredients in the majority of dishes cooked in the Barrocal and Serra Algarvia.

Firmly rooted in the Algarve's gastronomic heritage, olive oil is used both for seasoning and for cooking, alongside onions, tomatoes, peppers, garlic and fresh herbs such as parsley and coriander. Algarvian bread is very tasty and often used as a main ingredient in the preparation of certain dishes.

On the coast, the main source of ingredients is the sea, with a variety of fish, such as sardines, mackerel and tuna, or seafood such as clams, oysters, crayfish or prawns. Octopuss is also very popular specially in the eastern Algarve, and can be prepared in a number of ways, all of them perfectly delicious. Typical coastal dishes include fish or shellfish stews cooked in a unique copper pan called cataplana, marinated horse mackerel with sweet potato, grilled sardines served with bread and salad, and Algarve-style tuna steak. to name but a few.

In the Barrocal and Serra Algarvia the traditional dishes are slow-cooked meat stews with pulses and fresh vegetables and the snacks between meals would often consist of bread and olives, and small amounts of chorizo sausage.

Almond, fig and carob trees grow in abundance in the areas dry orchards, providing the ingredients for the finest sweet treats.The tempting cakes pastries of the region translate the strong influences of artistic baking using sugar and almond to produce exquisite maapo cakes shapped like little animals or fruits. Other delicious sweets are the D. Rodrigo or the morgado. The challenge to the visitor is to choose from such a wide variety of delicacies.

The Algarve benefits from an exceptional combination of climate, soil and location, making it, in specialist wine terminology, an excellent terroir for growing vines. Make sure you ask for Algarvian wines at the local restaurants, or look in the supermarkets and wine shops for the many available options.

The Algarve is also famous for its Medronho, a traditional fruit brandy made from the strawberry like fruit of the Medronho trees that grow wild on the inner Algarve.

Check out our selection of Algarve traditional recipes.


Cataplana de Amêijoas (Clam Cataplana)

Ingredients (serves 4):
1.5kg clams
150g onions
100g chouriço
300g tomatoes
1dl white wine
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1.5dl olive oil
1 bunch of parsley
50g smoked bacon
Salt to taste
Coriander to taste
Pepper to taste
Preparation:
  • Peel the onion and chop roughly. Peel the garlic and chop very finely. Heat the olive oil, add the garlic, onion, bay leaf and parsley and simmer gently.
  • Add the white wine and continue simmering. Meanwhile cut the chouriço into half-moon shapes, scald and deseed the tomatoes, then chop and add to pan along with the chouriço.
  • Cook for 5 to 10 minutes then remove the bay leaf and the parsley.
  • Add a layer of the now-cooked mixture to the cataplana, place the clams on top and cover with the remaining mixture. Close the cataplana and cook over a medium heat. Decorate with coriander to taste before serving.

Gaspacho

Ingredients (serves 4):
70g peppers
90g cucumber
200g tomatoes
200g stale bread
80g onions
0.5dl olive oil
2 soup spoons of vinegar
Very cold water
Oregano to taste
Preparation:
  • Cut the peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and onion into small cubes and liquidise.
  • Cut the bread into cubes, place in a bowl and pour over the liquidised vegetables.
  • Lastly, add the vinegar, olive oil, oregano and the cold water.
  • To make the dish even more refreshing, try adding some ice cubes.

Arroz de Lingueirão (Razor-shell Risotto)

Ingredients (serves 4):
1.2kg razor-shells
2 cloves garlic
1dl white wine
200g rice
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
1dl olive oil
140g tomatoes
140g onions
70g peppers
Pepper to taste
Preparation:
  • Wash the razor-shells thoroughly in cold water. Chop the onion and garlic finely. Hull the tomatoes and scald. Skin, remove the seeds and chop into small cubes. Wash, de-seed and chop the pepper into small cubes.
  • Put the razor-shells in a pot, cover with water and cook. When cooked, remove from the pot and rinse to remove any impurities.
  • Strain the cooking water and reserve. Heat the olive oil and gently fry the garlic, onion and the bay leaf.
  • When golden, add the chopped peppers and tomatoes and the white wine. Add the razor-shell cooking water and bring to the boil.
  • Add the rice to the pot, season with salt and pepper and cook for a few more minutes.

Dom Rodrigos

Ingredients:
300g very damp egg threads
125g shelled almonds
250g sugar
1.5dl water
5 egg yolks
Cinnamon powder to taste
Tin foil
Preparation:
  • Peel and grind the almonds. Put the sugar in a pot and add 1.5dl water. Boil for five minutes. Add the almonds, stir and boil for a further three minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  • Add the egg yolks, stir and put back on the heat stirring constantly until the mixture starts to boil. Remove from the heat and set aside until completely cold.
  • Cut the tin foil into 20 squares measuring about 18cm on each side and place them on the table top or workbench.
  • Place a little mount of egg threads on each square. Make a hollow in the middle and fill with the egg and almond mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Close up the hollow until the filling is nestled inside a little ball.
  • Join the corners of the tin foil together and twist to enclose the contents inside the wrapping.

Bolos de Maçapão do Algarve (Algarvian Marzipan Cakes)

Ingredients:
500g sugar
500g shelled almonds
1 egg white
Preparation:
  • Peel, dry and grind the almonds. Sieve with the sugar as many times as necessary to make a fine paste.
  • Place the egg white in a recipient together with sugar and almond mixture and mix together gently with your fingers. When the paste is smooth enough to model, make it into shapes.