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Portuguese cookbook?

(19 Posts)
LifeIsGoodish Thu 05-Sep-19 23:19:50

Can anybody recommend a good Portuguese cookbook in English.

We're returning to England tomorrow, after a wonderful fortnight here in Portugal. The food has been amazing. I want to try and create some of these flavours at home. Especially the sauces. (Let's face it - I am never going to grill a sardine!)

Any suggestions?

OP’s posts: |
Kummerspeck Thu 05-Sep-19 23:22:06

I'm not sure it is possible to recreate Portuguese food here as we don't have the same calibre of ingredients

LifeIsGoodish Fri 06-Sep-19 08:27:59

I disagree. We have very good food available in the UK. Maybe our fruit and veg aren't as large, and the ranges vary, but we have all the basic ingredients. It's how you combine them that makes the difference.

My parents and my MIL could make an old shoe taste delicious. They are all good cooks but all three come from very different cultural backgrounds, so the shoes would taste deliciously different, even though they would all be sourcing their ingredients from the same supermarkets.

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Otherpeoplesteens Fri 06-Sep-19 13:13:03

We eat mostly Portuguese food and don't find it too much of a challenge, although sourcing some ingredients (in particular, certain types of fish or shellfish) can be a challenge if you live in particular places. Most larger towns and cities in the UK will have a Portuguese shop somewhere, and there are a few online too that will at least send you things like bacalhau in the post. You might have to settle for Spanish chouriço though sad.

I'm not aware of the existence of many Portuguese cookbooks in English, unfortunately. Portuguese cuisine has never been on the radar in the English-speaking world apart from those already connected to the community. This may change, although I suspect it will be more focused on the new-wave stuff coming out of Lisbon rather than the sort of traditional staples you find in one-horse villages in the middle of nowhere. Online again might be your best bet: on the odd occasion I've needed to check something I have found this one to be pretty good:

Otherpeoplesteens Fri 06-Sep-19 14:55:41

Just out of interest @LifeIsGoodish, what kind of things were you hoping to recreate?

LifeIsGoodish Fri 06-Sep-19 15:44:34

Açorda Alentejana is the only actual named dish I remember.

Apart from that, it's mostly the flavours I want to try to recreate. Every simply grilled or flash-fried dish we had was served in or with the most amazing sauces.

I had a tuna 'casserole', which was basically a rare-grilled tuna steak served in a soupy vegetable stew, tangy and delicious.

Grilled mackerel served with a gravy jug of an orangey-red sauce with chunks of raw veg in it. I recognised raw onion, raw fennel, paprika and vinegar in it.

Another sauce that seemed to taste of both butter and olive oil.

Of the sweets, I can remember the names of some to look up, like Pão do Lo and Pudim Molotof, but there are so many that I cannot remember. For example, I pointed to one that looked like a wedge of baked custard, and they called it 'yogurt'. It tasted like a cross between a baseless cheesecake and a baked custard, but with the flavour of yogurt.

OMG the food has been so amazing.

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MsRinky Fri 06-Sep-19 16:54:04

Try Piri Piri Starfish by Tessa Kiros or Lisboeta by Nuno Mendes. Both very beautiful books, and every recipe I have tried from both of them has been delicious.

Otherpeoplesteens Fri 06-Sep-19 17:11:49

Two broad observations about flavours in Portugal. One, they use a lot of salt: I mean huge, huge amounts of it. Particularly on grilled fish. It makes a massive difference: a sea bass barbecued in a restaurant in Portugal and one from Tesco here may well have come from the same fish farm in Greece, but taste nothing alike when cooked according to local expectations.

The second is that sometimes the base ingredients do make a difference. I don't eat milk or milk products so can't really comment on some of the desserts you mention, but a lot of them will contain egg - Molotov being a case in point - and eggs there taste a million miles away from what you get here. Much more intense there; I suspect it's down to the feed, plus the fact that chickens and hens aren't so intensively reared there.

I quite like açorda: the sourdough boule from Lidl's instore bakery, left to go stale for a couple of days, makes a tolerable substitute for an Alentejo loaf. If you want something a bit different, cut the top of the boule off, scoop out the insides to shred for the açorda, and use the bottom half of the crust as a bowl to serve it in.

I think your sauce was unlikely to contain fennel - it's not something you see widely in markets etc there and I've certainly not come across it in my 40-plus years of eating fish in Portugal (although, admittedly, I don't even need a whole hand to count the number of times I've paid more than about €9 in today's money for a fish meal in a restaurant there). I suspect it was probably celery with the aroma coming from cloves, especially if the end result looked like this

The colour in many orange sauces comes from the paprika - used very widely in fish sauces - as well as tomato/passata for certain dishes and it will have been white wine rather than vinegar although to be fair the sort of wine you'd cook with is often not much better... However, it is usually combined with a stock (vegetable or fish) and reduced down to ramp up the flavour quotient. Garlic and fresh coriander, plus salt and pepper will have made up the rest. The type of white wine you use in cooking makes a difference too: rough and light is good, whereas a heavy oaked Aussie chardonnay will produce a very different result. If you can't source something Portuguese, try a cheap Italian or Spanish table wine from Aldi or Lidl.

Other top tips for Portuguese cooking: use the best quality olive oil you can, and if you don't have a cataplana for dishes that call for one, use a lidded wok.

LifeIsGoodish Fri 06-Sep-19 17:40:20

Molotov is dairy free, and I can get the most delicious, free range, fresh eggs (24h old) from a local farm.

Thanks for the other tips.

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Kummerspeck Wed 11-Sep-19 00:06:05

I asked my Portuguese colleague for you. She said she struggles to make food here that tastes as it does at home but said lots of people there use a kitchen device called a Thermomix or Bimby which is what gives the distinctive taste and textures to many of the dishes she loves.
The tuna dish you mentioned may be similar to a recipe she gave me (although the measurements are vague as she cooks very instinctively). She used frozen tuna steaks from Aldi, sprinkled heavily with salt and dried garlic granules on both sides, left to marinade for 2 hours then seared quickly on both sides in a hot pan, add fried onions, pour over chopped, tinned tomatoes with a sprinkling of paprika and simmer until cooked. You should use enough dried garlic that it shows as small white flecks in the sauce. I tried it and it was very edible

Costacoffeeplease Wed 11-Sep-19 00:35:56

Another vote for Lisboeta by Nuno Mendes

EspressoX10 Wed 11-Sep-19 10:43:10

I was born and raised in Lisbon.

"Refogados" are the basis of most Portuguese dishes (Italians have their version with carrots and celery):
Good olive oil + salt + garlic + onion + basil leaf (sometimes tomato)

Paprika (smoky) and salt + pepper are very popular seasonings, as well as oregano and coriander.

There's a good cooking blog written by a British couple who live in the Algarve. If you want authentic, there's also a YouTube channel by a lady who does catering but cooks from her home. Her recipes are 100%authentic and most are traditional. I think it's called Sabor Intenso. I'll double check

EspressoX10 Wed 11-Sep-19 10:45:00

Here's the YouTube channel. It's in Portuguese but the videos are all step by step, with a recipe card at the end.

LaDameAuxLicornes Sun 15-Sep-19 20:54:46

I have this one and really like it - food from the Iberian peninsula.

allypally32 Mon 16-Sep-19 12:47:43

I am half Portuguese and I like this book

LifeIsGoodish Wed 25-Sep-19 20:06:46

My first attempt at Pão de Ló.


However, the taste and texture took us straight back to our holiday, so I'm very pleased.

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SteamedPotatoes Wed 25-Sep-19 20:53:06

It's a MLM but the Bimby (called Thermomix) is fab and most Portuguese households have one. Call the UK HQ and request a Portuguese rep - they have quite a few, to come out and do a demo. I've had one of these appliances for 10 years and can really easily recreate a lot of foods from European holidays using it (but I'm not a rep for them!)

LifeIsGoodish Thu 03-Oct-19 16:44:58

Hideously expensive, though.

OP’s posts: |
meg70 Sun 06-Oct-19 15:36:57

I have piri piri and starfish (by Tessa Kiros) too, lovely recipes.

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