La Cataplana portugaise.

The Portuguese Cataplana

Originating from the Algarve, cataplana is a kitchenware that gives its name to a large number of very popular recipes in southern Portugal.

★ The advantages of Cataplana.

This kitchenware is composed of 2 copper half-shells connected by a hinge and equipped with a closing system. 

1 - A useful kitchenware: The first advantage of a Cataplana is that it is used both to cook the dish and to present it at the table. Mix your ingredients, put your Cataplana on the fire, take it out after cooking, open it and put it directly at the table, it's as simple as that.

2 - A healthy kitchen: The second advantage is the cooking method that Cataplana allows. It requires very little fat and the low-heat, stewed cooking method preserves the texture, taste and all the benefits of the ingredients.

3 - Recipes easy to cook:

A Cataplana is really easy to use: you fill it with the ingredients you have selected (meat, fish, shellfish, vegetables, spices...), close it, put it on the fire and it cooks itself. No need to stir or worry about cooking. At the end of this article you will find recipes, some of which are proposed by Vitor Sobral, one of the best Portuguese chefs.

4 - A very tasty cuisine: The shape of the Cataplana allows it to be hermetically sealed so that ingredients are steamed what enables them to keep all their gustative qualities! You will easily find a whole bunch of recipes on the internet and the different cooking sites. The principle is always the same.

★ How to choose your Cataplana?

Some will tell you that you can use a "Wok", don't do it, your dish would certainly be wasted. In fact, a Cataplana is designed to diffuse heat throughout its volume, which ensures uniform cooking. Then, the cooking must be carried out in an enclosed space, which is possible with a Cataplana.  You may choose between the traditional copper Cataplana and the stainless steel Cataplana.

1 - The copper Cataplana

Cataplana portugaise en cuivreThe copper Cataplana is the traditional Portuguese Cataplana from the Algarve, the southernmost region of Portugal.

Usually made of tinplate or aluminum, it is then covered with a thin copper foil that will help the propagation of heat during cooking. It can then become a serving dish that brings a very authentic overtone to your table. You may find here the traditional Portuguese copper Cataplanas made by hand in Northern Portugal, in Barcelos.

2 - The Cataplana in stainless steel.

Cataplana en inox pour feux à inductionFor those who use induction cooking fires, it is necessary to use a stainless steel cataplana.

It is the only Cataplana compatible with induction technology. These Cataplanas are generally made of brushed steel on the inside to allow good heat diffusion, and of polished steel on the outside to be used as a table service dish. Their base is flat in order to take advantage of the efficiency of induction cookers. I propose you to find here the stainless steel cataplanas made in Portugal

3 - Which size to choose?

The Portuguese are used to preparing very generous dishes: No guest should leave the table still hungry! Therefore, a Cataplana for 5/6 people is generally suitable for 6/8 people.

In any case, I advise you to choose a size that will allow you to make a Cataplana for as many guests as possible. This kitchenware is very sturdy and will last a lifetime. It would be a pity to realize you have chosen a too-small one.

★ Some tips for use
1 - A copper Cataplana is very sturdy however, it is advisable not to put the copper to direct flame or to place it in the oven without it being filled, which could deform it.
2 - Copper is an excellent heat conductor, so Cataplana does not need a lot of heat to work perfectly. Take into account when adjusting your cooking fires.
3 - The inside of a Cataplana is tinned to prevent food from sticking, do not use metal utensils for cooking and prefer wooden utensils.
4 - Our Cataplanas are not decorative objects,  they are not varnished, so you don't have to treat them before using them. However, do not use abrasive products or any product that could scratch or damage them.

★ Main recipes of Cataplanas
In Portugal, there are almost as many Cataplana recipes as there are cooks. In fact, the principle is to mix vegetables, fish, and meat and cook everything together. From there, anything is possible. You will find below the 5 seasy steps to cookmaking a Cataplana at home. 

Here are some examples of recipes that you can easily modify according to the ingredients you can find on the market.

 

★ Cataplana of fish

Cataplana de poissons

  1. Oil the bottom of the Cataplana with olive oil, of course!
  2. Cover the bottom of the Cataplana with thin slices of vegetables (onions, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes or better: sweet potatoes!)
  3. Season with salt, pepper and coriander if you like.
  4. Display the pieces of salted fish cut into pieces. Feel free to vary the species.
  5. Cover the fish with a new layer of vegetables.
  6. Then place the seafood and shellfish (shrimps, clams, shells, mussels of your choice)
  7. Pour a glass of olive oil and half a glass of water regularly over the whole.
  8. Let cook on a very low heat without opening for 30 minutes and only open the Cataplana when ready to serve.

 

★ Pork cataplana with clams

Cataplana de porc aux palourdes

My favorite recipe! It is based on a typically Portuguese recipe, the pork cataplana with clams. It is an amazing recipe that I highly recommend.

  1. Cut the pork into pieces, place them in a dish and sprinkle them with white wine.
  2. Add, according to your taste, crushed garlic, paprika and bay leaves and leave to marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably in the refrigerator.
  3. Peel, wash and slice the onions, parsley and coriander.
  4. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat in the Cataplana.
  5. Add the onions and fry for 5 minutes, add the garlic and bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add the pork cut into pieces then the clams, sprinkle with parsley and coriander. Sprinkle with a little white wine.
  7. Cover the Cataplana and cook on low heat without opening for 30 minutes and open the Cataplana only when ready to serve.

 

★ Cataplana of Carabineros shrimps with mushrooms and rosemary

Cataplana de crevettes

With the kind authorization of Silampos and Chef Vitor Sobral

Ingrédients (10 people)

  • 800g peeled carabineros shrimps with head and tail
  • 350g brown mushrooms
  • 200g dried tomatoes
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 0.3 dl of tomato vinegar
  • 0,5 dl extra virgin olive oil
  • Traditional sea salt
  • Pepper

Préparation

  1. Fry the tomatoes in 0.2 dl olive oil and set aside.
  2. Add the rest of the oil to the Cataplana
  3. When it is hot, add the shrimps previously seasoned with salt.
  4. Then add the mushrooms, garlic, and rosemary.
  5. Put the lid on and let it cook.
  6. Serve with a little pepper and vinegar.

 

★ Cataplana of clams with lemon

Cataplana de palourdes et citron

With the kind authorization of Silampos and chef Vitor Sobral

Ingrédients (10 people)

  • 3kg of clams
  • 400g chopped onions
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 400g tomatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 0.5 dl lemon juice
  • 1,5 dl Extra virgin olive oil
  • Pepper
  • Chopped chives

Préparation

  1. Brown the onions, garlic, and tomato in olive oil.
  2. Add the clams, chili pepper, and lemon juice.
  3. Cover and let it stew on low heat.

Would you like to get started with Cataplana cooking?

Authentic portuguese cataplanas


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