Looking for an easy Portuguese cataplana recipe? Read our guide for more facts & information…
Cataplana is a Portuguese seafood dish. It first achieved popularity along the Algarve coast of Portugal. As the rest of the country adopted the dish various versions of cataplana evolved over time. Here is an easy way to prepare cataplana in your own kitchen. Ideally you should procure a wok-like utensil called a cataplana. That’s right; the dish used to prepare cataplana is also called a cataplana. In fact, the hinged cataplana actually resembles a clam shell.
You will need the following ingredients:
• 1 lb tin of paste tomatoes
• 2 green bell peppers
• 3 medium Spanish onions
• 1/4 lb smoked ham
• 2 oz. prosciutto ham
• 1/4 lb Portuguese chourico or chorizo sausage
• 3 lbs or about fifty fresh small clams in the shell, rinsed.
• Olive oil
• 4 oz. dry white wine
• 3 cloves of garlic
• A bay leaf
• Chili pepper or cayenne pepper
• Fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
Proceed as follows:
Cut the green peppers into small strips. Cut the onions into thin slices. Dice both kinds of ham. Add the onions, garlic, green peppers, olive oil to a medium-sized pot and cook over low heat until onions are golden brown in color.
Add the paste tomatoes and the bay leave to the mixture. Set aside about a fourth of the juice that is in the paste tomato tin. Make sure the sauce reaches a simmering temperature. Reduce the heat and allow to cook for about a half hour.
When the half hour is up it’s time to add the rest of the juice from the tomato tin and the prosciutto ham, the smoked ham and the sausage as well.
After another half hour of cooking has transpired it will be time to add the pepper and the paprika. Stir in the spices thoroughly. Have the cataplana utensil ready for action. If your kitchen is not equipped with a cataplana you can substitute a heavy pan with a good lid.
Use a good sized spoon to gradually add approximately half the sauce to the cataplana. Spoon the clams on top of the sauce after that. Gradually pour or spoon the rest of the sauce and the white wine over the top of the clams. Cover the cataplana (or pan) securely and continue to cook the mixture for another 15 minutes on gentle heat.
It is important not to peak under the lid of the pan, since the flavors are locked in during the final 15 minutes of cooking. Just ensure that the cooking temperature is kept low enough.
Add parsley for decorative purposes and serve immediately.
As mentioned above cataplana recipes can vary considerably. Ingredients such as red peppers, mussels, shrimp and potatoes often appear in other recipes. A loaf or two of crusty Portuguese bread makes an excellent accompaniment to almost any type of cataplana you make.