Delicious Christmas in Portugal

Christmas in Portugal is a unique experience. For some Europeans, particularly those that come from the north, it doesn’t feel Christmasy enough. For others, the ability to walk outside and even get a little Vitamin D is a real Christmas miracle. It’s a very beautiful time of the year if you are looking to visit Portugal. And it’s a great opportunity to taste some of the most delicious and unique dishes here. If you aren’t travelling to Europe this Christmas you can always bring a little Portugal home via some rich cultural food experiences.

In Portugal, on Christmas Eve, a family dinner is known as the night of the Consoada. The word Consoada refers to a small meal at the end of a day´s fasting and means to comfort. And in the North of Portugal (Minho, Porto and Guimarães), there is a custom for people to reserve places at the table set for the Consoada supper for those relatives who have recently passed away or are away to comfort and warm their souls.

During Christmas in Portugal, almost every house has a rich table set in the living room full with traditional food, cakes, fried cookies, nuts and other goodies. Here’s a few ideas to help set up you own Portuguese Christmas a home, in Australia, enjoying some of the most delicious meals and treats so much loved in Portugal.

Widely Loved Christmas Bacalhau

Portuguese Christmas food is simple, with a mix of seafood and meaty delicacies and of course huge variety of sweets. Bacalhau or Portuguese codfish is one of the most treasured dishes in Portugal during the festive season. Originally Bacalhau refers to cod which has been salted and dried. There are now over 1,000 ways of preparing bacalhau; so you can really experiment with it customising for a hot festive season Downunder. For example, the Bacalhau com todos is simply composed of boiled potatoes, cabbage, eggs and codfish fillet. People eat it with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped garlic. This is the dish you will see in every home in Portugal any time of the year especially on Christmas.

Famous King Cakes

Bolo Rei, or King Cake is a particular favorite of the Portuguese during Christmas and is traditionally eaten on January 6, day of Epiphany. The legend goes that the three kings who arrived to Jerusalem to greet baby Jesus were disputing which one of them would be the first to give their gift to Jesus. Upon their travels they met a baker who baked a cake with a bean inside it. And whichever one of them got the slice of the cake with the bean would give their gift first.

The Bolo-Rei is a kind of sweet bread with eggs, filled with nuts, dried fruits, raisins and topped with candied fruit and powdered sugar. In essence, it is the tastiest version of fruitcakes.

Rissois de Camarao Croquettes

These delicious Rissóis de Camarão, or Portuguese Shrimp Turnovers, is a traditional favorite for the holidays and for celebrations. These half-moon shaped croquettes are usually filled with shrimp, sometimes minced meat or vegetables, before being breaded then deep-fried. This is a very popular Portuguese specialty, which can be enjoyed as a snack, appetizer or starter, and of course, delicious Christmas dish. Although not traditionally served with a dipping sauce, today you might serve seafood rissoles with spicy ketchup or cocktail sauce, and meat rissoles with a creamy cucumber, dill or cilantro sauce.

Christmas Octopus in Portugal

Polvo à lagareiro is a quintessentially Portuguese seafood dish featuring a boiled and baked octopus with smashed potatoes in herbed garlic oil. Octopus is commonly eaten throughout the world, but the Portuguese have a special love for the tentacle creatures. Cooking with octopus may be intimidating to some but the beauty of cooking Polvo is the simplicity in preparation. If you aren’t visiting Portugal this Christmas you can prepare your own Polvo à lagareiro for your family and guests.

Sweet Aletria

Aletria is a Portuguese sweet pasta dessert. It is a type of sweet rice. It is quite a unique and traditional dish in Portuguese dessert making. Made with eggs, sugar, cinnamon and lemon peel, Aletria is a traditional Portuguese Christmas dish.

Portugal was once a colonial empire, and one of the longest lasting. It’s no surprise that the influences of its former colonies, Goa, Macau, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, to name a few, can be seen and felt everywhere, even in its food. This is why Portugal is on our delicious radar today.

If you want help planning a holiday to stunning Portugal, reach out to our team on 1800 242 353.