4. Enjoy grilled fish with a sea view
Portugal has an ancient relationship with the sea. Its long west coast has always stirred dreams of other worlds. And its coastal villages have always depended on the sea for a living, with local fisherman bringing back from its depths a huge range of species in their nets that were then prepared on land with the alchemy of fire and various seasonings.
After all, Portugal has the best fish in the world! There are few places where you can eat fresh fish in such diversity and with such quality. The conditions created by the country’s continental shelf together with a Gulf Stream rich in nutrients gifted this coast a wealth of fish. Seafood, too. There is also lots of river fish – less important in local cuisine, but providing some specialities.
Portugal’s coast also has many restaurants that look out to sea. In them you can appreciate Portuguese cuisine, with its rich, well-seasoned ingredients, with a view of the wide Atlantic – a view that, everywhere except in the Algarve, almost always features dramatic waves and elemental forces.
One fish that is a national dish but which is not caught here is bacalhau – cod from the North Atlantic that is salted and dried. No one in the world knows how to cook bacalhau like the Portuguese. There are said to be 1001 ways to cook it!
Other native species that give rise to nutritious, health dishes include grouper, croaker, black scabbardfish and the popular sardines and horse mackerel, as well as monkfish and sole. Then there are the molluscs from the sea, such as squid and cuttlefish, and various shellfish such as clams, mussels, oysters, spider crab, crab and other creatures.
All this can be enjoyed in a restaurant on a cliff top, or right by the beach, with a fine sunset ushering in your dinner.