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Algarve Fish and Seafood Guide

by Nelson Carvalheiro


This Algarve Fish and Seafood Guide, serves as a comprehensive guide for the best and most traditional fish and seafood in the Algarve. At a time when Portuguese gastronomy is becoming increasingly fashionable and more and more people travel to Portugal to delight themselves with our foods, it makes sense to write this Algarve Fish and Seafood Guide. After all, the freshness of this mana from the seas, along with our "The simpler, the better” approach to cooking fish and seafood is the major attraction for all those who visit us.

Moved by the gastronomic revolution that is sweeping Portugal from north to south, the Algarve is taking advantage of its prime location and long coastline to make fish and seafood its culinary flag. Now, more than ever, the big focus is on quality of products and its confection. Where in the past some may have resorted to fish and seafood from aquaculture, this is rare nowadays. Almost all restaurants serve wild fish and seafood, just caught only a few hours in Atlantic waters off the Algarve. It is these same waters that give the Portuguese fish and seafood, especially in the Algarve, it’s characteristic flavor and the title of world's best.

Fact: Scientists know that the abundance of fish is influenced by the existence of favorable conditions of temperature, light, salinity and oxygen water. This by itself depends on the existence of a greater or lesser amount of plankton, plants, microscopes organisms, phytoplankton, or animals, zooplankton, including many species of other fish. As those conditions depend on the depth of water and ocean currents, the oceans are areas of greater and lesser abundance and diversity of species. This is what makes the quality of the fish, the fact that the portuguese coast has plenty of everything needed to have great quality fish.

In addition to the generosity of nature, there is also the wisdom of men: fishermen, over generations, who preserve the line fishing gear and hook and small traditional nets. It is the gentle way of catching the fish that allow it to preserve its fresh and tasty quality after caught. They know how to prepare and cook fish in a traditional manner, simply just with salt and embers, marinated or vinaigrette, in stews and casseroles, baked in the oven or even fried.


Tuna (Atum)
It is the athlete of the sea. It travels long distances to spawn in the Mediterranean, so the passage through the Algarve coast is mandatory. It is distinguished by its muscular meat, which becomes the tastiest when grilled. The real beef steak of the seas. In Olhão they also make muxama - the ham of the sea, where they dry and salt tuna loins to be preserved in time.

Atlantic wreckfish (Cherne)
The heavy weight of the seabed, can weigh up to 100kg and considered a luxury fish. It has a corpulence that lets you make thick steaks from its loins. These take their maximum flavor on the grill or baked in the oven.


Dourade/Sea Bream (Dourada)
Distinguished by the golden crown that gives it its name, feeds on crustaceans and bivalves giving its meat a fresh and iodized taste. Together with the sea bass it is the everyday fish of the Algarve and Portugal.



Alfonsino (Imperador)
The ex-libris of the deepest Portuguese sea, it does not go unnoticed, with its big eyes glossing over the red skin. It never loses its posture, even on the plate. It can be the most expensive red fish you will find in the Algarve, but is worth every penny you spend on it.

Flounder (Linguado)
It is a weird looking fish, with two eyes on the same side. If you have trouble finding them, they are on the right side. Its size tells you how it should be cooked, whole or fillet, fried or on the grill. The thicker the better.


John Dory (Peixe Galo)
Probably the ugliest fish in the Portuguese coast, the visible black mark in the center of its back stands out. With a very white and tiny meat only gives 4 delicious especially breaded fillets.

Turbot (Pregado)
Considered the "pheasant of the sea”, this fish is rare and only found in European waters, with the Portuguese coast disputed by the great restaurants of the world. 10 times better than its cousin the sole or the flounder. Bought in the market in the Algarve costs 60 euros on the market in London costs 200.


Rays (Raia)
It is an irreplaceable dish in the Portuguese cuisine, especially with stews with garlic (Raia Alhada) When small and fried everything you eat is a nice and crunchy surprise.


Sea Bass (Robalo)
Its silver suite is its trademark as one of the most popular fish worldwide. Its firm white meat lends itself to plenty of sea flavor, either on the grill on baked in salt. The latter is only possible with fish larger than 1.5 kg.


Sardine (Sardinhas)
The queen of every popular summer festivity in Portugal. It has almost everything that is good for health. Typically it just needs salt and embers and a drop of Portuguese olive oil and you are ready to go. Do not forget the Sardine Festival in Portimão.


Swordfish (Espadarte)
Together with tuna is another "steak of the seas" of the Algarve. It is caught far from the Algarve coastline and at great depths. The largest specimens can reach up to4 m and weigh over 650kg. Its flesh is white and juicy, so deserves plenty of attention on the grill.

Monkfish (Tamboril)
It competes with the John Dory for the title of ugliest fish in Portugal. Greedy and always on the lookout for prey, monkfish are large and have very white and firm flesh. Its flavor is best when grilled or on in a Monkfish rice with prawns.


Octopus (Polvo)
The true chameleon of the sea. Is very fast and able to change color to communicate with other octopuses and as a warning to predators. Typical of eastern Algarve, more precisely of Tavira and Santa Luzia, a village named the octopus capital.


Lobster (Lagosta)
Portuguese distinguished by natural saltiness of his flesh. In the Algarve it is special and emblematic, especially grilled with herb butter.

European Lobster/Lavagante
Known as the "cardinal of the seas”, its flesh is widely appreciated in Portuguese Cuisine. Just like the lobster, a mandatory presence in the seafood rice.

Shrimp (Camarão)
The faithful companion of the start of festive meals or simply to accompany a cold beer or a fresh green wine, shrimp in Portugal is always synonymous with absolute pleasure. Do not forget to eat the juices in shrimp head !!

Scarlet Shrimp (Carabineiro)
Pride of our table it is big and extremely tasty. Besides, they look extremely good on the plate. Baked, fried or grilled, to garnish rice or cataplana Carabineiro is always an unforgettable seafood.

Stone crab and spider crab (Sapateira e Santola)
Armed only with a hammer and a fork you can take all the seafood flavor of these two crustaceans kings of Portugal. More than the pleasure of eating the tender crab meat, is a great social time of a meal where you can mingle and chat.


Donax Clams (Conquilhas)
Although you can purchase Conquilhas in the market at € 5 per kilo, or pay € 10 for 500g in the restaurant, the Conquilha can (and should) be picked up in almost every beach in the Algarve. Just wait for low tide and look near the surf by shells. It is my favorite sport in the summer.

Clams (Amêijoas)
Inhabitant of sandy bottoms and mud, along the Algarve Coast, clams, especially "à Bulhão Pato" are a reference of Portuguese cuisine and make the delight of locals and tourists.


Razor Clams (lingueirão)
After conquilhas, the razor clam is my preferred bivalve. Be it in razor clams rice or "à Bulhão Pato”, it is a delight to feel all that sea tasting meat, especially with toasted bread.

Goose Barnacles (Percebes)
Mistakenly called "seafood of the poor” (each kilo can cost more than 50 euros when the sea is rough), the Percebe is a dinosaur of the Portuguese coast, having persisted for many thousands of years in the Algarve rocks. Despite tourists liking them big and meaty, the percebeiros of Sagres – the people who risk their life climbing the cliffs to catch them -, prefer them small and tender.


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