Cataplana is not only the name of this copper and shell-shaped kitchen utensil, it is also the name of the dishes. delicious that are made in it. The cataplana is formed by two concave parts joined by a hinge that, with the the help of two side zips, seals all ingredients, which makes all flavors and aromas retained and mix like no other kitchen utensil.
The food is cooked with an airtight steam cooking, slowly and at low temperatures. this way of cooking gives the food a unique and characteristic flavor that you will want to repeat.
Originally made from copper, nowadays there are cataplanas on the market that can be used in modern induction or glass-ceramic plates.
Little is known about the origins of the cataplana in the Algarve, but everything indicates that it was during the period in which the Algarve was under Arab rule it will have emerged. Its creation may have been inspired by the many bivalves that populate the estuary Formosa.
Documents arrive from ancient times referring to the opening of a pit in the ground where the cataplana was placed on glowing embers and covered with sand. This type of outdoor cooking is documented in historical records and, looking at the shape of the cataplana, it is perfectly natural that this should be the case.
Even today this kitchen utensil is produced by artisans who mold the copper with slow hammer blows and sureties that give them all their charm.
Here's a recipe for you to try at home:
Mackerel cataplana with cockles, razor clams and corn porridge by Frederico Lopes
For the corn porridge:
200 g maize meal
100 g maize flour
80 g red chorizo
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
Fleur de sel
1 l water
10 ml olive oil
For the cataplana
3 kg mackerel
300 g razor clams
300 g cockles
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 large white onion
1 medium red onion
100 g cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
100 ml white wine
50 ml olive oil
Fleur de sel
For the corn porridge
Put the chorizo, coriander stalks and half an onion in a pot of water. Boil for 20 minutes.Remove the chorizo and strain. Reserve the broth. Remove the skin from the chorizo and cut into small cubes. Put olive oil and onions in a saucepan. Sauté for 3 minutes over a low heat. Then add the chopped garlic and half the broth and reserve the rest. Put the maize meal and maize flour in a saucepan of cold water. Add the fleur de sel. Cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, taking care until it starts to boil. The aim is for the texture to be fairly solid. The secret is to start with the broth cold and gradually add more as the mixture thickens until it reaches the desired consistency and is cooked.
Place on a tray. Allow to solidify in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Cut into 1 cm cubes. Set aside.
For the cataplana
Fillet the mackerel and remove the belly bones and season with fleur de sel, lemon thyme and a little olive oil. Julienne the peppers and slice the onions in half-moons, chop the garlic and cut the tomatoes in halves. Wash the shellfish well. Put olive oil, the lemon thyme, crushed garlic, bay leaf, lemon grass and chillies in the cataplana. Cook gently over a low heat until the oil is infused with the aromas. Then add the onions and peppers, close the cataplana and cook over a low heat for another 5 minutes. Open the cataplana, splash with white wine and add the tomatoes, paprika, samphire, razor clams, cockles and rolled mackerel fillets, olive oil and cubes of corn porridge on top with a little fleur de sel. Close the cataplana again and cook for 8 minutes over a high heat. Adjust the seasoning. Finish with chopped coriander.
Suggestion: serve on a slice of toasted carob bread with olive oil and garlic.
For more information, please go to:
kitchen, algarve, cataplana, seafood, traditions