Delicious Lisbon: Summer Recipe Inspiration from Europe's Sunniest Capital

Delicious Lisbon: Summer Recipe Inspiration from Europe's Sunniest Capital

When it's beach season in Portugal, even the most conscientious cozinheiro will start looking for shortcuts in the kitchen. The weather is too perfect, the street parties too intoxicating to spend all afternoon toiling away with paring knives and oven mitts. Whether you're in Lisbon or London, our culinary confidant, Tolga, thinks your summer dinner party should be low-maintenance and breezy: light on the chopping, peeling, and grating—long on QT with friends and rooftop rosé.

Cue amêijoas à Bulhão Pato. Named for a Portuguese poet-epicure who popularized it in the 19th century, this punchy "petisco" or "little dish" is a summertime standby for many Lisboetas, including our favorite Lisbon-based chef and pro-entertainer. Featuring steamed clams in a moppable mustard-garlic sauce, it makes a flavorful prelude to any seafood-focused meal. With a minimalist shopping list and nominal prep, it also happens to be the recipe equivalent of a beach read. "Everyone is astounded when they hear it only takes about ten minutes to prepare," says Tolga. "The key, given the dish's simplicity, is to use the finest local products available: fresh market clams, quality olive oil, and a cooking wine you'd enjoy drinking."

In the spirit of simple—and in the interest of extending your nap in the sun—ask dinner guests to pick up a loaf of country bread (for savoring that addictive sauce) and a refreshing Vinho Verde to accompany the meal (Tolga suggests white or rosé). After a glass of Portugal's heat wave-ready, subtly sparkling thirst-reliever, you might even be able to pretend you're dining at a homey seaside tasca.

Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato: Classic Portuguese Steamed Clams


tolga pic.jpg

1 kg clams
2 tablespoons/30 ml olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ cup/120 ml dry white wine
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon-style mustard
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped

grilled fresh bread (for serving)
Vinho Verde wine (for pairing)


1. Rinse and soak the clams in cold salted water for a minimum of 15 minutes; once they've released their sand, gently lift them out of the water into a colander and rinse again.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, stirring until it just begins to change color to beige; immediately add the wine, blend in the mustard, and let the mixture bubble vigorously for about two minutes.

3. Add the clams, cover, and let steam for approximately three to five minutes depending on the size of the clams.

4. Turn off the heat, add the chopped cilantro, and gently toss.

5. Serve right away with fresh bread to soak up the delicious sauce.

Serves 4.

Lisbon-bound? Want to learn how to create an entire menu of classic local dishes? Reach out to Tolga to discuss a private custom cooking class. He will show you how to bring Portuguese flavors into your home kitchen (even if you're paleo, vegetarian, or vegan!).

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