Bounty from the Sea
Here in the Algarve we are blessed with a bounty of wonderful seafood found in the Atlantic Ocean off our beautiful coastline. If you’re visiting the Algarve, this is a fantastic opportunity to try all kinds of seafood including lobster, tiger prawn, crab, prawns, octopus, perceves, such as goose neck barnacles, and local oysters from the Ria Formosa.
Here we will guide you through just a selection of the bounty from the Ocean in alphabetical order that you will find in the Algarve. Finally at the bottom once you have browsed through the "Bounty of the Sea" you will find information on all of the markets in the Algarve
An inhabitant of the deepest Portuguese sea, its big eyes and glossy red skin mean it will stand out as you browse along a selection of fish at a market. It never loses its posture, even once served up on the plate. It can be the most expensive red fish you will find in the Algarve, but worth every penny.
Found in the sand and mud when the tide is out, along the Algarve Coast, clams are a popular cuisine. An enjoyable way to find ingredients for a meal. To search for clams on the shore, look for coin-sized depressions and water spurting out of the hole. Once you've found a potential spot, dig directly below the depression, pull out the clams, and place it in a sealable bucket with some sea water. Before cooking rinse well to remove any sand.
The heavy weight of the seabed, this fish can weigh up to 100kg and is considered a luxury fish. It has a plumpness that lets you make thick steaks from its loins. The best way to maximise their flavour is to cook on the grill or baked in the oven.
The Donax Claim is a genus of small, edible saltwater clams. Although you can purchase Conquilhas in the markets here in the Algarve at around € 5 per kilo, or pay around €10 for 500g in the restaurant, the Conquilha can be picked up on almost every beach in the Algarve. Just wait for low tide and look near the surf for the shells.
Together with the sea bass this is very much the everyday fish of the Algarve and Portugal. Distinguished by the golden crown that gives this fish its name, it feeds on crustaceans and marine molluscs giving its meat a fresh and iodized taste. Perfect when either cooked on the BBQ or baked in the oven.
This is to be fair is an odd looking fish, with both two eyes on the same side. If you have trouble finding them, they are on the right side. Its size tells you how it should be cooked, whole or filleted, fried or on the grill. The thicker the better.
These barnacles are truly wild and only grow in a few remote places, such as Lagos and Sagres. Local fishermen risk their lives everyday searching the dramatic cliffs of the Algarve for gooseneck barnacles, a rare delicacy for which you will have to pay a handsome price to experience but they are well worth it.
Possibly one of the ugliest fish you will find when walking around a fish market, the visible black mark in the centre of its back stands out. Best eaten grilled either on the BBQ or in a pan or eaten as tiny fillets.
The flesh of the Lobster is widely appreciated in Portuguese cuisine and if you walk along any harbour in the Algarve you will spot the lobster pots stacked up. The star of a Cataplana de Marisco (seafood cataplana), a dish that you must try whilst in the Algarve
Monkfish easily compete with the John Dory for the title of ugliest fish in Algarve. These are a large fish and have very white and firm flesh. Popular in many different dishes it will be hard to not find monkfish on the menu when eating out in the Algarve
The Octopus is considered the true chameleon of the sea. Typically caught more in Eastern Algarve, more precisely the village of Santa Luzia is a delightful fishing village on the eastern Algarve, famed for Octopus. The village’s fishing fleet specialise in Octopus fishing using traditional and sustainable techniques, while the restaurants that line the harbour front have perfected the cooking of this tricky dish.
Oysters are one of the wonderful natural foods that thrive in the Algarve. There are many rivers that terminate in the Algarve’s low-lying wetlands and these estuaries provide a perfect habitat for this popular shellfish. Along with clams, mussels, shrimps and fish, the oyster is a valuable addition to the many popular culinary seafood stews like cataplana although of course they are wonderful eaten raw
A very popular dish with Algarvians - a simple homemade strew of ray with potatoes and garlic. You will find this simple but delicious fish stew in the traditional cafes frequented by Algarvian locals
Razor Clams (lingueirão)
The shells with a striking resemblance to an old “cut-throat” razor can be found all over the sandy beaches of the Eastern Algarve. Razor clams are delicious in a stew or in "Arroz de Lingueirão" (seafood rice)
You won't be able to miss this popular and cheap fish in any market or in any cafe or restaurant in the Summer months in the Algarve. Really all you need to do when cooking sardines is just a little salt, pepper and a drop of Portuguese olive oil and you are ready to go. Simply pop them on the BBQ and enjoy. There is even a Sardine Festival in Portimão held every August.
The scarlet shrimp is big and extremely tasty and they look extremely good on the plate. Grilled, baked or fried, they are delicious with rice or in a cataplana, The Scarlet Shrimp, will never disappoint you and is always an unforgettable seafood.
One of the most popular fish worldwide. You will easily find it at many of the fish markets in the Algarve and with its firm white meat this fish lends itself to many a dish whether you choose to cook it on its own or add it to a stew
There can sometimes be nothing more pleasurable than a bowl of shrimp simply cooked and served up to to enjoy with a cold beer or a cold glass of white wine with Friends and family. You won't be able to resist soaking up the juices with a slice of bread and some would say the best part is sucking up the juices in shrimp head !!
The best way of enjoying these Algarve Kings of the sea is by using a hammer and a fork and you can enjoy all the seafood flavour of the tender crab meat of these two crustaceans. Of course you will find many dishes that also include this delicious meat in cafes and restuarants
Swordfish is one of the "steaks of the seas" of the Algarve. Caught far from the Algarve coastline and at great depths. The largest specimens can reach up to 4 metres and weigh over 600kg. Its flesh is white and juicy and is best grilled
The turbot is a large left eyed flatfish found primarily close to shore in sandy shallow waters throughout the Algarve although also quite rare. Turbot is highly prized as a food fish for its delicate flavour. Like all flatfish, turbot yields four fillets with meatier topside portions that may be baked, poached, steamed or pan-fried.
Tuna travel long distances to spawn in the Mediterranean, so the passage through the Algarve coast is mandatory. Considered the real "beef" steak of the seas It is distinguished by its muscular meat, can be eaten many ways, including of course raw and is found in many dishes in the Algarve or simply grilled. In the fishing town of Olhão they also make Muxama - where they dry and salt tuna loins to be preserved