Due to its rich History, Portugal has a big diversity of main dishes and delicacies in its gastronomy which always leaves those who come visit with a new and better sense of what good home food is. In general Portuguese dishes include lots of meat and fresh fish as well as green vegetables (cabbage, spinach and broccoli for instance) and the way these are prepared can vary depending on the region you’re in. In order for you to really grasp what the Portuguese cuisine entails, we’ve prepared a list with some of the most popular dishes that you simple have to know and taste.
Sardinhas Grelhadas (Grilled Sardines)
This one has to come first since, apart from cod fish, sardines are the most popular fish among the Portuguese. They are so popular that they became a symbol outside of the gastronomy and into the cities to represent the people of Portugal. This is the go-to dish for any kind of party in Portugal. If you are attending to a summer festival in Portugal you can rest assured that you will see sardines grilling on every corner of almost every street and, if the whole family gets together for a Sunday lunch on a sunny day, you will find grilled sardines on the table too. You can eat them however you like but what the Portuguese love to do is to tuck one or two sardines inside a bun of bread. This may sound to simple of a dish but don’t let yourself get fooled until you try it.
Cozido à Portuguesa (Portuguese stew)
This is one of the most typical Portuguese dishes that can easily be found in many traditional restaurants in Portugal. It’s definitely a comfort food dish, with boiled meats and hearty vegetables enriched with sausages that can vary depending the region of the country. It’s a dish around which all the family gathers and spend a long lunch and afternoon together.
Feijoada (stew with beans and meat)
This dish got its name from the word ‘feijão’ which means ‘bean’ and you can bet it has loads of it. This stew can be even heartier than cozido à portuguesa as it usually comes accompanied with white rice (Portuguese love to have white rice on the side). The mixture of flavours from the beans and the meats and sausages is unique in the world and, since it’s surprisingly easy to prepare, you can count on it as a comfort food.
Bacalhau com Natas (codfish and cream)
No one can deny that, at first, codfish with cream may sound as an odd combination and the first reaction might be to stay away from it. However, this is one of the Portuguese dishes that is most prepared, either at restaurants or at home, all year round. When it comes to cooking codfish, there’s no other country that does it better or in a more creative way than Portugal. There are at least ten dishes with codfish that are very popular, but there are dozens more that are just as good. Bacalhau com natas consists of a deep tray with a mixture of codfish, potatoes (these are prepared varies from the region of the country) and a cream-based sauce to bring it all together. Many times, this dish is chosen for Christma’s Eve dinner or for a meal at a restaurant for a big group.
Bifanas (pork sandwiches)
This dish may remind you of the sardines’ dish. This one consists of grilled thin large slices of pork meat that were marinated beforehand with some spices and then served in a bun of white bread. This dish is so popular that, for a couple of months McDonald’s released a menu option with a bifana in Portugual called McBifana. This is a quick and easy meal that you can eat on the way and many restaurants and cafés have it as menu option for people to eat on their lunch break. In these cases, it usually comes accompanied with French fries or other kind of fries. Nowadays, with a community that eats less and less meat growing, there are also bifanas with turkey instead of pork for people who only consume white meat.
This is by far the most popular dish in Porto much like sardines are associated with Lisbon. This is a very indulging dish that doesn’t have a place in a healthy diet but it’s definitely worth having from time to time as it is one of the best comfort food meals. It consists of a sandwich on a plate of meat and sausages wrapped in melted cheese slices with a fried egg on top. However, there’s one more thing that brings the whole dish together, and that is the special sauce which is a very well-kept secret in each restaurant that make them. The only thing that we can tell is that the sauce is based on tomato and beer. If you visit Porto, this delicacy is one that you can’t not have at least once. As you can see, if you come to Portugal you will have plenty of chances to eat well. Full of different meats, fish, sausages, hearty vegetables and carbs like bread and rice, it’s guaranteed that you will feel fully satisfied and comforted after a good Portuguese meal.