Discover fascinating facts about one of the symbols of the Algarve’s cuisine

See original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine December 2015


Food or pan?

  • Confusion alert: the word cataplana is both used for the pan and for the dish inside it. The cooking device is traditionally made from copper. It consists of two clam shaped vessels hinged together at one end and side claps to seal it shut when cooking takes place.
  • In restaurants, the cataplana pan is usually served to the dining table so moisture, aromas and flavours of the dish are retained. Popular dishes are seafood cataplana (from the Algarve) and pork with clams cataplana (from the Alentejo).


Portuguese tajine

  • The origins of the cataplana are unclear. Some say it was invented by Armando Luz (1927-2002), a Portuguese metal craftsman working with copper and stainless steel.
  • Another theory is that it was already introduced by the Moors and has since become the Portuguese version of the tajine. Not only do both dishes have a similar cooking process, also with both the food is named after the cookware.


More than just fish

  • The story goes that Portuguese fishermen would take their cataplanas on fishing trips, already filled with olive oil, onion, garlic and vegetables, and use them to cook their fresh catch.
  • It’s not only for (shell)fish though. Every kind of stew can be made in a cataplana and ingredients such as chorizo sausage, potatoes, chicken and rice are often included. Whatever you add, just don’t open the lid while it’s cooking.



  • Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a cataplana. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 2 medium sized sliced onions and 1 bay leaf. Fry for 2 mins, then add 2 red sliced peppers and some coriander stalks. Fry for another 4 mins and add 1 can of peeled tomatoes plus a glass of white wine. Simmer for about 10 mins.
  • Next, add 400grs prawns, 200grs mussels and 4 crab legs. Cover and cook for 15-20 mins on low/medium heat. Beware of steam when removing the lid. Season with salt & pepper and finish with some chopped coriander. Invite 3 other persons, open a bottle of vinho verde and enjoy.


See original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine December 2015

Posted in Food, Typical Portugal.

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  1. Pingback: 5 foodie Algarve Christmas presents | Enjoy the Algarve magazine

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