The Portuguese breakfast , like its gastronomy in general, features a variety of dishes that have been influenced by diverse cultural compendia. Its famous cuisine based on seafood stands out thanks to its particular geographical location with total access to the Atlantic Ocean, which culturally places it within universal history as one of the most important and pioneering nations of maritime exploration.
The undeniable Mediterranean influence on Portuguese culture delightfully invades your table. Other of its notable influences, this time coming from its former colonial territories, is the use of spices and condiments to give its meals a good flavor.
For many, within the hustle and bustle of city life, the fastest and most well-known alternative for the morning meal is not exactly the most traditional, but it has become a global trend thanks to the influence of the Mediterranean or continental breakfast.
In this sense, Portuguese breakfast equals sweet pastries. The streets are lined with pastry shops offering endless baked products based on flour, mixed or filled with various sweet and creamy pastries. Different types of cakes, cupcakes, croissants, cookies and donuts line the counters waiting for diners.
Among these is the pastel de nata that has the title of being the national cake. It is a small round shaped puff pastry, filled with vanilla flavored whipped cream and covered with a powdery mixture of sugar and cinnamon.
Some bakeries modify the filling by adding apple or almond fudge instead of the usual cream, and use icing sugar on top.
A couple of slices of toast of different sizes and shapes are also a common option for breakfast. As frequent companions are butter, jam, ham and necessarily cheese.
But none of this would make breakfast more national without a good cup of Portuguese coffee as a hot drink; which the famous espresso with cream is the usual one.
Egg-based dishes also serve as an alternative topping for bread or cakes. The omelet is one of the most common, mixed with chorizo or bacon as the predominant flavor, and cuts of vegetables such as onion or asparagus to add more flavor to the dish. Necessarily to be authentic Portuguese, only olive oil is used to fry the ingredients.
Slices of fruit and yogurt do not slip off the table in the morning, giving variety in flavor, color and nutritional values to the Portuguese breakfast.
The fruit is also used to make juices for fresh drinks with the morning meal. Also cereal in milk has its place, especially for the little ones in the house.
As said before, this type of breakfast is quite similar to continental breakfast, but what makes it particularly Portuguese is the indispensable presence of coffee and sweet cakes. This trend has won the hearts and palates of the inhabitants, currently giving it the label of “traditional Portuguese breakfast”.
Among culinary professionals and cultural scholars, it is attributed to the constantly evolving hustle and bustle of daily life.
Breakfasts typical of the culture of Portugal
Portugal is a country with a centuries-old maritime culture, so it’s no surprise that some seafood dominates the breakfast tables. Among these traditional dishes are cod fritters on the menu, a dish that, despite having variations in its preparation, maintains certain standards.
Its presentation in small balls or rolls makes it an excellent quick snack for the mornings. Its ingredients consist of raw shredded and desalted cod, potatoes, egg, parsley to taste, salt and white pepper to season, and the all-important olive oil to fry the mixture and make wonderful fritters.
Its preparation is essentially cooking potato without removing the skin. This is stirred once they are cooked to make a kind of puree that is then mixed with the cod. Simultaneously beat the eggs and add the parsley to combine it with the potato and cod mixture. The mixture must be stirred well until a homogeneous mass is obtained.
The seasonings do not lose importance in this dish. It is usually seasoned with salt and pepper. Once the oil is very hot, fry the dough into small spheres. It is important that the oil covers the fritters to guarantee their complete and uniform cooking. Once fried, let them cool for a few minutes.
The traditional spherical presentation of large restaurants and cafes is achieved using two spoons; passing and rotating the portion of dough from one to another and thus mold the expected shape. Freshly made they will be a delight to the palate that does not require much time to prepare.
Another famous dish recommended for breakfast is the Portuguese frittata, which is a kind of omelette but cooked in the oven. The oven must be switched on from the beginning of the preparation.
It begins by preparing a mixture of small cuts of chicken with pieces of various vegetables, especially tomato. This is sautéed with olive oil for a few minutes in an ovenproof skillet.
The eggs are beaten with the recommended seasonings: oregano, black pepper and salt; and then pour over the stir-fry chicken and vegetables. Grated mozzarella cheese is sprinkled on the surface of the mixture and the pan is placed in the oven for about 10 minutes.
As a final detail, to give it that brown appearance, grill the frittata for about a minute or until it turns golden brown.
Just cut it into pieces and it’s ready to serve on the table. This type of dish, because it is heavy, is recommended as a late breakfast or as a so-called “desalunch”.
Some additions and modifications to the dish depend on taste, location, or ingredients at hand. It is normal to find firttatas prepared with chorizo or another type of typical Portuguese sausage, mushrooms, spinach or simply vegetables.
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