This dish takes its name from the traditional Portuguese cooking vessel. Becky and I visited the Algarve to attend a Wedding in Villamoura and while we were there, we visited a number of excellent restaurants, including the unimaginatively named, Restaurante Cataplana. Upon our return, Becky very kindly bought me a cataplana dish for Christmas the following year.
While the following recipe might not be considered wholly traditional, it’s fun to prepare, and feels like a real treat. Served best with some fresh bread to soak up the delicious liquor, and perhaps some Canarian potatoes.
If you’re after authentic Portuguese ingredients, or a good bottle of Vinho Verde (which would accompany this dish excellently), I can recommend Delicias – a small chain of delis in London, who also take orders online.
While not essential, if you fancy your own cataplana head over to www.cataplanas.com, however I think this dish is just as delicious prepared in a sauté pan.
Skill level: Moderate
Equipment required: Cataplana, or large sauté pan with lid
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
1 medium onion, roughly diced
1 red or green pepper, roughly diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Bunch of parsley
Olive oil for frying
300g pork belly meat, cubed
750g–1kg live clams, washed and rinsed
250ml dry white wine
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp espelette pepper (optional)
Pinch of saffron
Pinch ground black pepper
Step 1: In your pan, brown the pork belly meat in olive oil, over a medium heat. As the meat takes on colour add the chopped onion, followed by the pepper, then garlic.
Step 2: Turn the heat to low, and cook for approximately 40 minutes stirring occasionally, allowing for the vegetables to soften, and the pork to cook thoroughly. This low and slow cooking will also render the fat from the pork, and allow it to crispen a little.
Step 3: Add the paprika, espelette pepper, saffron and black pepper and turn to ensure the spices evenly cover the meat and vegetables.
Step 4: Turn the heat up to high and add the wine. Using a spatula or spoon deglaze the pan, ensuring the spicy meaty goodness is dissolved into the liquid. Heat until the pan is bubbling, and a good amount of steam is being produced.
Step 5: Add the clams and stir them through the mixture. Close the cataplana (or place lid on the pan) and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes. The wine will create the necessary hot steam, to cook the clams. As they open they will release their salty juices, and therefore additional salt in the dish would be unnecessary.
Step 6: Turn off the heat, open the pan and check that the clams have all opened, add chopped parsley and stir through with a little additional olive oil. It’s nice to serve the pan directly to the table, allowing diners to help themselves.
If you like Portuguese cuisine you might like our Foodie’s Guide to Eating and Drinking in Lisbon.Find Flavour Seeker on social media: