December 2012: Portugal

fishstewQuick Facts

Official Language(s): Portuguese, Mirandese (regional)
Some Other Languages Spoken: Asturian, Barranquian, Caló, Galician, Portuguese Sign Language, and Romani
Ethnic Groups: Portugal is a very homogeneous country consisting of approximately 94% Portuguese, 2% Brazilian, 1% Cape Verdean, with the remaining population primarily consisting of immigrants from Africa and East Europe.

Food Facts: Portuguese cuisine varies regionally, but fresh fish is a popular component throughout the country – from dried, salted cod (the national dish) to lobsters, grilled sardines, fish stews and seafood rice. Pork is the most popular meat used, though beef and chicken are common. Dishes are often spiced with piri piri (birds eye chiles), cinnamon, vanilla, and saffron. The cuisine has been influenced by Mediterranean, Brazilian, African, and Indian cuisines. However, traditional Portuguese cuisine often consists of simple ingredients layered on top of each other to create robust flavor profiles with simple preparations.

Recipe: Caldeirada (Fish Stew)
Caldeirada is a traditional Portuguese fish stew that’s often served with crusty bread. The types of fish used in the stew vary by region and are frequently changed based on what’s available locally. Fish (and sometimes shellfish) with different textures and flavors are layered in a pot with tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and bell peppers. The stew is flavored with garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, wine, and fresh parsley or cilantro and simmered slowly to create a rich broth. Other spices and herbs are often added or substituted based on regional preferences.

Caldeirada (Fish Stew) Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
3 yellow onions, halved, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, halved, deseeded, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300g potatoes, peeled, cut into 1cm-thick slices
4 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
375ml (1 1/2 cups) dry white wine
2 dried bay leaves
4 black peppercorns
2 (about 450g) swordfish steaks, cut into 4cm pieces
2 (about 450g) thick cod fillets, cut into 4cm pieces
16 (about 800g) green medium prawns, peeled, tails left intact
16 black mussels, debearded, scrubbed
Fresh cilantro leaves, to serve
1 baguette (French breadstick), thickly sliced diagonally, toasted

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the onion is soft. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 10 minutes.

Add the potato, tomato, wine, bay leaves and peppercorns to the onion mixture. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 12 minutes or until the potato is just tender.

Arrange the swordfish and ling pieces evenly on top of the onion mixture. Top with the prawns and mussels. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 6-8 minutes or until the mussels open. Discard any unopened mussels.

Divide the fish mixture among serving dishes. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve with bread.

Serves 4.


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