Boasting around 300 days of sunshine a year and a coastline that provides the very best in Portuguese gastronomy, the Algarve is a paradise that combines sunshine with delicious seafood.
Apart from the generosity of nature from Sagres to the Guadiana River, what also counts is the wisdom of the fishermen who, over generations, preserve the art of fishing with hooks and fishing lines and small traditional nets and, of course, it also counts the chefs who know how to treat the seafood and cook it with tradition and expertise.
Discover the Algarve's most traditional fish and seafood dishes.
Fish in the Algarve
Such is the variety and quality that a simple grilled fish or a few local goose barnacles served up on a beach on the Algarve Coast becomes an exceptionally special experience. And then there are all the regional innovations in how to best cook these wonderful natural ingredients including the brass cooking utensil called ‘cataplana’, the ‘Caldeirada’ fish stews and other soups. And there are all the savouries and snacks, ideal for recharging halfway through a day at the beach, on the golf course or simply enjoying the good weather.
Try a few ‘Carapau’, the local species of mackerel, or the traditional grilled sardines of Portimão, accompanied by a ‘mountain salad’ in Cacela and discover the joys of flavoursome simplicity.
Caldeirada (Fish Stew)
The Algarvian ’Caldeirada’ is very rich as it is composed of various qualities of fine fish, such as ray, monkfish, conger, among others. The traditional fish stews vary from boat to boat, and from kitchen to kitchen, but the delicious flavour is in all recipes. The basic principle behind their preparation is based on the fish species available at the time in the Algarve.
The ‘Carapaus Alimados’ are part of the good traditional Algarvian cuisine and are served between snacks or as a starter. They are prepared with salt and seasoned with olive oil and lemon. The Algarve-style horse mackerel is a real delicacy that you can't miss.
Sardines are the queen of Portuguese festivities and the object of a strong fishing tradition in the Algarve. The best way to eat sardines in the Algarve are grilled, and they should be tasted by placing them on a slice of bread that absorbs their natural fat. The best side dish for this dish is the Algarvian salad, which has a tomato base with a touch of cucumbers and peppers.
Every year, at the beginning of August, Portimão celebrates the grilled sardines with a festival with lots of music, fun and, of course, sardines!
Seafood in the Algarve
From the tuna steak of Tavira to the octopus of Santa Luzia, the Algarve excels in a menu that extends to delicious local cockles, ‘Conquilha’ shells and razor clams. And there are oysters from Baleeira, Alvor and the Ria Formosa with squid and cuttlefish also common across the entire Algarve. After all, this is a land of fishermen!
Conquilhas à Algarvia
Conquilhas are similar to clams but smaller, and live close to the edge of the sea, buried in the sand a few centimeters deep.
‘Conquilhas à Algarvia’ are a delicious starter or snack, made with garlic and coriander and sprinkled with lemon at the end. This is one of the most typical Algarvian dishes and you can't miss it if you're a fan of seafood and love the taste of the sea!
Razor clam rice
The razor clams are easily caught when salt is put in the burrow where they hide, causing them to quickly emerge from the surface of the sand. There are several recipes for eating razor clams, but the razor clams rice (or as we say in Portugal: ‘Arroz de Lingueirão’) is one of the most popular recipes for enjoying this bivalve.
Squid and Cuttlefish
Squid and cuttlefish are a mollusc, yet they are often found on the seafood menu in restaurants.
TheAlgarve-style fried squid (‘Lulinhas à Algarvia’) don't need many ingredients to be delicious, they are made with just garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
As for the Algarve-style small cuttlefish (‘Choquinhos à Algarvia’) are also simple and are prepared with onion, garlic, olive oil, coriander, white wine and pepper.
But the Algarve also has its hills with its own culinary traditions, such as the ‘cozido de grão’ dish. And the upper regions grow the fruits that produce the sweets. The almond, orange and fig that go into the ‘Morgado’ and ‘Dom Rodrigo’ sweets are to the temptation of all. And where the fruits do not fit as dessert, they go into flavouring regional liqueurs and spirits. Try the ‘medronho da serra’ grape-based spirit or the almond liqueur ‘amêndoa amarga’, ideally served deeply chilled.
Every possible ingredient for a romantic evening as the sun settles its way over the horizon.
Book now our services and enjoy the comfort of our transfers in the Algarve to the best restaurants!
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