When you’re in Portugal, don’t forget to try traditional snacks. It is eaten by hand, with a fork or spoon, bread on the side and a glass served. Preferably a very cold beer.
And please don’t call them tapas – a Spanish expression, not a Portuguese one. The Portuguese are very proud of their petiscos, because the food is about people – the kind of experience that includes licking your fingers, refreshing your soul with beer, tasting wines and socializing until you say enough.
The Portuguese people are petiscos-lovers, there is nothing to do and whoever takes away this tradition that goes from one or two things to twenty, takes away the good mood. Enlightened Portuguese cooks know perfectly well how good the peixinhos da Horta, fried to perfection, make us happy. Two imperatives just for the Portuguese practice to be fulfilled: table and company. A sweeping flight through the amount that is put on the table, with our eyes on happy harmonies.
The list of snacks can be very long, but let’s try to meet the most famous.
-Caracóis – Lisbon’s snails are undoubtedly something to try in the summer. You will find doses of different sizes in various snack bars, small family restaurants and some cafes
– “Iscas” – pork liver sautéed with garlic and white wine, sometimes you find a version with onions. Usually served with chips or boiled potatoes.
-Fava beans – when the fava season comes, a bowl of this delicacy simply stew is enough to taste well. Whether cooked alone, or enriched with slices of chorizo and other meats, it is a delight.
-Peixinhos da Horta – a vegetarian snack, nothing less than breaded and fried green beans.
-Green eggs – boiled eggs, cut in half, stuffed, breaded and fried. The traditional recipe consists of yolk emulsified with olive oil, vinegar, spices and parsley.
-Sardines – starting in June is the ideal time to enjoy them. It is their time, as they became very fat and, consequently, tastier.
-Pasteis / codfish balls: The small fried codfish cake, made of varying proportions of potato and cod, combined with olive oil and beaten egg, are one of the great glories of Portuguese cuisine. These pastries are either eaten by hand or accompanied with rice. Hot, warm or cold don’t lose their identity.
-Ham: The national smokehouse is an institution and on a well-cut plate of ham we set the conversation and socializing for an entire afternoon.
-Torresmos: Usually made from portions of pork rich in fat and with the main purpose of extracting the fabulous lard that fortunately remains alive in the daily recipe. In no way does it threaten the equally fabulous extra virgin olive oil that we worship in the kitchen and at the table. The crunchy and compact pieces that are extracted are an unavoidable snack
– Cod fish pataniscas: Patanisca is called various preparations nowadays, but when we call it snack here it is the one that fries the thin pieces of cod in egg and batter gains firm structure and is eaten by hand.
-Guambas a guilho: Either we call them prawns al ajillo, like the Spanish, or simply prawns with garlic. We know that corruptions like “guilho” are nonsense that mean nothing and we must be indifferent to them, honoring this snack of fork and bread by celebrating when it comes in the still boiling oil, the aroma of garlic and coriander.
-Cured cheese: The smaller and drier, the cheese from Nisa and Évora slice well and thin, with the flavor concentrated by the slow evaporation of the retained water, while at the same time concentrating the salt. Serpa and Serra da Estrela ones also age very well and lend themselves to snacks for hours on end.
– Cold octopus salad: We like octopus in every way, but chopping the tentacle logs cooked to the point and well drizzled with olive oil is almost transcendental.
-Roasted rice black pudding: A delight that is practically an entire meal, it will have been born between Leiria and Santarém, but today it is a national snack, with the blood sausage of great tradition. It is baked in the oven
-Fried sausage (choriço): Fried sausages are made in clay pots, which drip and smell a little throughout the national territory. It is eaten by a toothpick and is always shared as soon as the fire is extinguished at the table. You need thick sliced wheat bread to impregnate yourself with the oil of the sausage.
-Pica Pau: The pica pau is a dish of very Portuguese origin composed of simple ingredients: fried pork – although it can also be made with beef – and pickles. It can also include olives and chillies. Originally from Ribatejo, the meat of this snack should have a soft texture. Snack is one of the specialties of many taverns in most of the country. Tastier in good company, do not dispense the bread to enjoy the sauce.
-Pregos and bifanas: Bifana is a typical dish originating in Vendas Novas. This snack includes pork stews cooked with garlic and wine. The meat must then be placed on warm bread. They can be seasoned with mustard or hot sauce. This is one of the dishes that are not lacking in popular festivals, particularly in summer, all over the country. The variants are many and can in some cases include cheese and ham or other complements. Similar, it is the prego with beef. Other typical Portuguese snack, like bifana, it is usually seasoned with mustard or hot sauce.
– Alheiras: Alheira or “Jewish chorizo” are the names for a sausage with a history of more than 500 years. Originating in Trás-os-Montes is a dish that the Portuguese eat at any time of the year as a snack or as a main dish. It is a classic of Portuguese gastronomy, in particular the Mirandela version.
– Pipis: “There are gizzards and pipis”. It is read on the doors and windows of dozens of taverns, cafes and restaurants in the capital and across the country. Pipis are bits of chicken stewed in a rich tomato, onion and garlic sauce.
Stewed gizzards: Stewed gizzards are a delicacy that is based on a small stew of onion and tomato to which are added chicken or duck gizzards.
And what is your favorite?