From petiscos and finger foods, to typical salted cod dishes and hearty meat or seafood stews, not forgetting the indulgent repertoire of sugar and egg yolk loaded Portuguese desserts, the collection of traditional Portuguese food is rather vast for such a small country!
Portuguese cuisine is regional with distinct characteristics depending on the area of Portugal. The local history, the topography and influences of the people who have come and gone all over the country during centuries, have shaped the Portuguese way of cooking and eating.
Today we focus on Lisbon’s culinary heritage, highlighting the dishes which have been developed in the Portuguese capital. Even though you may find any of these all over Portugal today, just like you can eat all sorts of regional recipes in the restaurants across the city as well, these are the most iconic dishes created in Lisbon itself.
Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato
Being so close to the ocean, the cuisine of Lisbon has decidedly been influenced by the Atlantic. As such, fish and seafood are staples of the local diet. The clam dish amêijoas à Bulhão Pato is considered one of Portugal’s best seafood dishes and one we often cook during our group classes at Cooking Lisbon. Many won’t know that, unlike other recipes which end up taking the name of its creator, these saucy clams were named as a tribute to poet and renowned foodie Raimundo António de Bulhão Pato (1828-1912). But let’s be honest: amêijoas à Bulhão Pato have much more potential to make Portuguese folks hungry than awaken our literary sides! The recipe was developed around 1930 at Estrela de Oiro restaurant, which used to have its doors open in Rua da Prata in Lisbon. Even though some restaurants today also add white wine to the preparation of clams Bulhão Pato style, the original recipe is indeed very simple: the clams are cooked with a little garlic infused olive oil, lemon and lots of coriander, which is used during the cooking process itself, as well as a generous garnish for serving. Simple yet very elegant, this tangy Portuguese clams recipe is a must-try when you visit Lisbon!
Where to try in clams Bulhão Pato style Lisbon:
📍Av. Alm. Reis 1 H, 1150-007 Lisbon
📍Praça dos Restauradores 79 80, 1250-188 Lisbon
📍Rua Prior do Crato 142, 1350-263 Lisbon
Peixinhos da horta
We have an entire article dedicated to the history of peixinhos da horta, and how these battered and deep-fried green beans are the Portuguese predecessor of Japanese tempura. Peixinhos da horta, just like many Portuguese finger foods, originated in Lisbon. This has to do with the fact that the first public establishments for food and drinks opened their doors right at the capital. At the beginning, particularly during the 19th century, taverns and drinks dispensaries started propagating all over the city. Even though these were drinks only shops, initially to buy to take home and later on to drink at the shop itself, business owners soon saw an opportunity to up-sell and started selling food. The food sold at taverns was basically one pot stews with whatever was available on the day, as well as appetizers which would help soak up the alcohol, inspiring customers to order one more round. One of these finger foods was peixinhos da horta, which consists of runner beans coated with a simple batter of wheat flour and eggs, deep-fried to golden perfection. A good serving of peixinhos da horta will feature a fairly light and crispy batter, not too oily or heavy, with an inside of beans cooked through yet still with a slightly al dente crunch to them.
Where to try peixinhos da horta in Lisbon:
📍Rua de O Século 242, 1250-095 Lisbon
📍Inside Time Out Market Lisboa, Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-479 Lisbon
Coelho da Rocha
📍Rua Coelho da Rocha 104, 1350-075 Lisbon