How to make a Portuguese Fado dinner at home
We know that many of the visitors who travel to Lisbon do so enticed by the things that make our country stand out: the scenic beauty, the warm weather, extremely welcoming people and, of course, Portuguese food!
Attending a dinner with live Fado music is one of the quintessential experiences you can enjoy in Lisbon. It doesn’t matter if it sounds too cliché. It is indeed an experience that you can’t enjoy anywhere else in the world and, as such, we certainly recommend it.
Of course there are tourist traps where the food won’t be anything to write home about, or where the musicians won’t have the perfect setup to connect with the audience. But, if you know where to go, listening to Fado live, won’t leave you indifferent. This is one of the experiences we tell you more about during our Lisbon Roots, Food & Cultural Walk.
When you can finally visit us here in Lisbon, we will give you all the tips you need to go to an authentic Fado venue and enjoy the nostalgic music Portugal is famous for. But for now, if you are at home and eager to try something new, or simply longing for your last trip to Portugal, we would like to suggest you to make a Fado dinner at home.
If you know the Portuguese word saudade, you know it can’t be literally translated. It is far beyond a word; It’s part longing, part nostalgia. This is what we are feeling right now. Saudade of showing our beautiful city to curious travelers from all over the world.
Saudade of feeling the breeze making our hair fly as we look out to the incredible view of Lisbon and the Tejo river. And, most of all, saudade of hanging out with old and new friends over food and drinks.
If you too are at home, embrace this Portuguese spirit of saudade and prepare a typical Portuguese dinner which would be best enjoyed with Portuguese Fado music playlist. Open a bottle of wine to fuel your nostalgia, and make the dishes below.
If you have any questions about Portuguese food or the cooking process, please feel free to reach out to us via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We would love to see the photos of your Portuguese home cooking: tag @tasteoflisboa or #tasteoflisboa!
For your dinner to be truly Portuguese, you may not forsake a few simple elements that should be a part of your table. Even if everything else fails, you must have a bread basket and some olives to nibble on. This is how you start soaking up the wine even before you get to eat your main meal. Ideally, if you manage to shop for everything easily, try to find some good Portuguese cheese like these recommendations. Otherwise, butter or olive oil will do. These are the small bites you won’t have to prepare yourself from scratch and that could also keep you going while cooking.
Bread Basket & Co
So simple, yet so good! This hot appetizer of garlic prawns Portuguese style is something even beginners can make at home and would normally turn out incredibly delicious.
Simply get some prawns, fresh or defrosted, and sautée them in olive oil with abundant laminated garlic and bay leaf. If you like food with a punch, you can also add some crushed chili peppers to the olive oil before you add in the prawns.
Once they are almost cooked, season with salt, pepper and a splash of brandy. You will need the bread we were talking about earlier, once the sauce that will be served with the prawns is something you truly won’t want to waste.
If shopping for ingredients isn’t too much of a challenge for you right now, here are other Portuguese appetizers, locally known as petiscos, very typical in Lisbon.
Suggesting a Portuguese main dish and immediately not thinking of bacalhau, Portuguese salted cod, is almost against our nature. Of course there are many other incredible Portuguese recipes besides this famous salted fish and, because we know this is something you are less likely to find the ingredients for on your side of the world, we have decided to suggest another typical recipe with easier to source ingredients. We’ll leave the bacalhau to eat together here in Lisbon when you come to visit us.
Pork & Clams Alentejo Style
This dish is Portugal’s answer to surf and turf. Basically, it consists of a medley of paprika infused cubes of pork meat sautéed along with clams. We know this combination originally from the Portuguese region of Alentejo may sound odd to some at a first instance. But, trust us, it works very well. The richness of the meat is balanced with the tanginess of the clams and it results in a very comforting dish.
To make this recipe you will need cubed pork meat (deboned), clams and potatoes as your main ingredients. For seasonings, make sure you have some white wine, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, coriander and oil for frying. Nothing too complicated.
The cooking process involves a few steps, but they are not that hard to follow. Marinade the pork for at least half an hour prior to cooking, with a mix of white wine, chopped garlic, paprika (paste preferred, but powdered also works!), salt and pepper.
While the meat soaks up some flavor, you can deep fry some potatoes, also cubed like the meat.
Heat up a little oil in a frying pan and cook the meat after you take it out of the marinade. But do not throw away the juices of the marinade as these will be essential in just a minute. When the meat is half way done, add in the fresh clams and the marinade juices and let it all cook together. If you see the meat isn’t done yet and the juices from the marinade are drying up, you can add in a little water to help steam all the ingredients.
Once the meat and clams are cooked, serve long with the potatoes, as shown in the picture above, sprinkled with chopped coriander. For a very Portuguese final touch, add in some olives and, if you have, chopped pickled too!
If you don’t have access to clams, make the same recipe forsaking the shells. That would also be a typical Portuguese dish, in that case called Carne de Porco à Portuguesa, that is, Pork Meat Portuguese Style.
We always like ending on a sweet note. This time around, we bring you a very simple dessert, which can be done super quickly with staple ingredients you would find in most parts of the world.
This straightforward dessert has the most curious name among all Portuguese desserts: camel’s drool. Don’t worry! It’s a vegetarian recipe. It’s sticky and enticing, but you’ll be the only one drooling over it!
All you need to get your sugar fix in Portuguese style is a can of cooked condensed milk and 6 eggs. Separate the egg whites and yolks. Beat the whites to a stiff peak in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the cooked condensed milk with the egg yellows. Add in the whites and mix carefully, by hand, trying not to lose the bubbliness of the whites. You will achieve the consistency of a mousse, which will be perfect to enjoy after a couple of hours setting in the fridge.
Before digging into your Caramel Mousse, sprinkle with some shaved almonds, or any other crushed unsalted nuts you may already have at home.
The dishes above are best enjoyed listening to this playlist while cooking and even eating. We have curated a series of beautiful Fado songs that either talk about Lisbon or have their music videos shot in our city, so that you can almost feel like you are here, with us.
Love from Lisbon. We can’t wait to welcome you!
Feed your curiosity on Portuguese food culture:
How to identify an authentic Portuguese Tasca
Foods you didn’t know were Portuguese
10 typical drinks from Portugal
Real people, real food. Come with us to where the locals go.
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