Crab salad

One of my Dad’s signature dishes is  his Portuguese style Crab Salad. This dish had many rave reviews from our  visitors and friends. It’s a dish that is light, full of flavours, addicting and a real treat. I remember on Saturdays, my dad would go to the Portuguese fish market downtown Toronto, buy 1 or 2 crabs, live ones, and it would be a feast for the eyes and mouth. Here’s the recipe enjoy !  Oh, I almost forgot, a nice wine to go with it would be a smooth  white chardonnay such as Allianca a light inexpensive Portuguese vino verde (green/white wine) or  Little Penguin of  South Australia !  Try it !

Ingredients: Yield 4 persons

King Crab (about 3-4  lbs) (or 2 small sized)

Deep pot of water

The Dressing:

garlic cloves 3 or 4
Red Pimento sauce (mild)
pinch of cumin spice
Olive oil
sea salt
white or red wine vinegar
Black Pepper
squeeze of lemon
4 boiled eggs (optional)

1. First you would boil the water in the pot, try to fill it about 3/4 of the pot.
2. After it’s been boiling for about 15 minutes or so, grab the live crab from the back, usually
the claws are tied by a rubber band. You can cut the band  after it’s boiled. Let it boil for about 5 to 7 minutes. The crab would have changed to a pinky orange colour.
3) Remove crabs from the Pot, let it sit on a tray to cool down, about 10 to 15 minutes. b) At this point you could boil the 4 eggs, for about 5 minutes. They need to be hard-boiled. Set to the side for decorating the salad.
4) Making the dressing; pour about 3/4 cup of olive oil, about 1/2 cup of red or white vinegar, chopped parsley about 1/2 cup, add 1 tablespoon of red pimento sauce (mild) or  1 tsp. of hot pimento sauce to the mild sauce if you prefer, chop the 3 cloves of garlic in small bits, add the 1 tsp of pepper, and a pinch of sea salt.
5) Mix all wet ingredients, and put to the side.
6) Begin cracking the crab legs for ease of eating. In addition, the main body of the crab, use a steak knife by puncturing the opening of  the front facial part of the crab and crack in half. You may need to clear out some of the guts, and brake the body into 4 or 5 parts for eating. You can save part of the crab juice and add it to the dressing if you wish. It  reinforce the overall crab flavour.
7)Gather all your crab pieces on a rectangular casserole dish Add your boiled eggs sliced in halves, drop some pimento red pepper sauce sparingly over the whole dish and eggs.
8)Pour the dressing over the entire crab, making sure all pieces has some dressing.
9)Squeeze some lemon over the entire dish and add some parsley for decoration, and there you go a really tasty Crab salad great for anytime of the year. Nice sides are Portuguese corn bread or popsecos (Portuguese buns).

Bom Appetit !

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Portugal small country ….Global Impact

There aren’t many small countries that can attest to the  level  of global influence than to that of Portugal’s. It’s as if the language, intentionally or not, has transcended to all races around the world. The Goans of India, the oriental influence within Macau, the Portuguese  historical presence within Labrador, Canada,  Brazil’s  multicultural ethnicities,  and the African inhabitants of Mozambique  and Angola.  Although, I believe the Portuguese explorers forgot about colonizing the South Pole, but then again, it might have been intentional. I couldn’t see Vasco da Gama camp out with the penguins during the winter !

Yet, it is no wonder that I am drawn to many cultures and want to embrace  and celebrate the commonalities of racial themes. It is probably innate due to my ancestry and natural appreciation of Portugal’s historical influence. The common quest to not only discover the physical world, but the longing to exchange ideas with fellow world citizens.

I am often perplexed with the Portuguese enigma, are we a “people in transition” ? Certainly not just one race  because many races  speak the Portuguese language. It is not just the history that binds us, nor is it our ancestral heritage or the flag of the mother country, but rather it’s our communication to one another, shared cultural experience, hard-working values. So if it’s the language that brings us together, then we have much in common with the English and Spanish-speaking world. We are a people of language, influence and pride. Therefore patriotism may have a different meaning here. Can patriotism be exclusive to one Portuguese speaking colony at a time ?  Or can it mean a shared culture and language  towards the affiliation of  the original country? Do we desire Portugal to be home ?  Perhaps,  it’s similar to the idea of the nuclear family, where the parents eventually encourage their  kids to go out and be independent, find their own place in the world, yet they can always come back home. It’s  an open invitation, the unconditional bond.  And so we should, Mother Portugal. To those that made their new homes in Brazil, Cape Verde,  Aruba,   Boston  U.S., Toronto, Vancouver and South Africa, we all adapt and create a space, knowing there’s a little place across the Atlantic called “home”.  Portugal,  small country ….global impact !

M. Dasilva
November 24, 2009

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Portuguese Queen of Kensington

Portuguese Queen of Kensington:

I remember growing up near Kensington market in downtown Toronto. When I was about 4 years old, every Saturday morning my mother, with her 1960’s hairdo and thick black retro glasses, would take me to the market. I am reminded of the hustle and bustle of aggressive shop keepers, nostalgic smells, cars honking, a busy hum through the streets, people were alive, really alive. The typical Portuguese fish store with the owner raising his voice to alert customers their orders were ready, NEXT…. Stores packed with hungry patient customers, waiting in line for their orders. The floors were always messy, filthy, with saw dust everywhere. Then there were the chicken and pork butchers. They had real live chickens running through the streets, and I would crack up watching the frustrated store keepers gasping after their chickens. It was a spontaneous circus worth more than the price of admission.

But the best part of the whole excursion, was the Portuguese bakery. The aroma of Portuguese custard tarts and “massa sovada” and the famous chocolate umbrellas with their colorful wrappers… a treat my mother promised me every time. And the almond covered candies that you get at weddings, I would never have the patience to dissolve them slowly, I would always crunch within thirty seconds. That wonderful smell of Portuguese almond candies reminded me of an innocent time within the city. Where it felt like a real community, like a small town. Everyone knew each other, there were no strangers. Why is it that when Portuguese people get together, there’s a lot of loudness, arms waving, excitement, passion? We are just very energetic passionate people wanting to be heard, wanting to connect, we live life like the kings and queens of Kensington.

M. Dasilva

November 23, 2009

Portuguese rice pudding or Arroz doce

It’s starting to get cold outside, winter is almost upon us, I look outside my window and the sky is smokey slate grey, I just want to curl up with a good book. But wait, something is missing….my comforting signature dish, Portuguese rice pudding  arroz doce !!!… I just can’t get enough !!!…to the kitchen I go.
I really enjoy this dish while listening to soft music, a crackling fireplace, relishing the moment.

The ingredients:

3 1/2 cups  of 1  or 2 % Milk
 1  1/4 cup of Aborio (any European named brand) rice
1 cup sugar
1 Lemon skin slice
1 egg yolk (optional)
1/2 cup water and more if necessary.

Yields about 4 to 6 servings

Cooking time will take about 1 1/2 hours – slooooooow cooking.

1) Gather your ingredients, you need to measure about 1 1/4 cups of rice. Wash it in the sieve. then put it into your medium-sized no stick pot.
2) Measure about 1/2 cup of water, add about 1 1/2 cups of milk, add your sugar. Put the heat on at low heat for about 30 minutes, in a covered pot. (Stir intermittently about 10 to 15 min. into the cooking process)
3)As it starts bubbling and thickening, it’s time to add more milk, add about 1/2 cup of milk and stir it slowly. This is a good time to add the lemon slice since this will allow the citrus flavours to slowly fuse with the rice grains and milk. Try to stir the pudding with your wooden spoon every 10 min. to 15 min.  or so ( You really need to spot check this one, so that it doesn’t burn at the bottom.)
4)The last 1/2 hour continue the same stirring action intermittently, and add some more milk, the last 1/2 cup of milk. If you are running low on milk you can substitute with water if you wish. Continue the stirring action, until the consistency it really thick and creamy, have a quick taste test with a spoon, to make sure the rice grains have cooked right through. Total cooking time will take you to about 1 1/2 hours anyway.
5)Once you’re satisfied with the taste of the rice, take it off the heating element to a cool element. Also remember to take out the lemon slice. It’s done it’s job.
6)At this point, this is where the egg does it role. Separate your egg, and only add the yoke to the rice pudding, save the whites from the egg for another recipe. Stir the yoke through and you’ll have a nice off-white golden tone. The pudding will be a nice creamy thick risotto type texture.
6)Pour your rice pudding with the wooden spoon into your oval semi-deep serving dish.
7)Sprinkle your cinnamon sparingly or if you want to get fancy create a design.

Some like it hot and some like it cold. I like it both ways,

And Enjoy

Portuguese bean soup with butternut squash

Collards, Romano Bean,  and Butternut Squash

This was one of my favourite homestyle vegetarian soups that my mom used to make when I was a kid.  It’s called Portuguese bean soup with butternut squash, aka Sopa de feijão. Great autumn dish and goes well with some Portuguese style corn bread or any bread. mmmmmm, No need for wine with this one, you’ll get intoxicated just smelling it’s aroma.   🙂

Yields 4 to 5 persons:


butternut squash
2 or 3 carrots, (sliced round shapes)
potatoes ( about 4 or 5)
Collard greens or Curly Kale (1 thick bunch)
garlic 3 cloves
red pimento sauce (tablespoon)
Romano beans (blanched)
vegetable bullion cube
1/4 cup of olive oil
dash of salt and pepper
dash of ground cumin spice
ground coriander or bits of fresh Cilantro herbs
and of course purified water
(optional) Fennel herbs

1) Soak about 1 to 1 1/4 cup of dried Romano beans in 1/2 a pot(stew pot) of water at room temperature. Soak them overnight or for 8 to 10 hours. Keep the beans covered by water while soaking. Best to do this in the morning to make the soup at night or the night before to make the soup early next day.

2) In the mean time, about 1/2 hour before you start heating the pot of water that holds the beans,  slice your collard greens in slivered strips, dice your carrots, cube your potatoes, cut your butternut squash in chunks, thinly sliced your garlic cloves. Heat the pot at low/med. on the stove.

3)Add, your cubed potatoes, bite size chunks of butternut squash, sliced carrots, garlic cloves sliced in thinned slices.

4)Add your olive oil, cube of vegetable bullion, and add of out 1/4 cup of  more water to your pot. Make sure you have  1/2  the pot with water for your soup.

5)Add the red pimento sauce, coriander, cumin, salt and dash pepper towards the end.

6)The soup should cook on low/med heat for 45 minutes. (The timing begins from when you add your ingredients to the pot)

7)After its cooked. Turn heat off. Add a small handful of chopped bits of Cilantro herbs and Fennel herbs, pinch of Cumin, 1 tablespoon of red pimento sauce(sweet).

Add salt and pepper to your tastes.

Enjoy !!!

Portuguese Pizza (Manuela’s style)

Portuguese Pizza (Manuela's style)

Ok, have you heard of  Portuguese Pizza ? maybe you have, here’s my version (Manuela’s Style):

  • Ingredients:
  • Portuguese style chouriço
  • pizza dough (short cut tip – buy from the local bakery) costs me 2 bucks.
  •  mild red pimento paste 
  •  parsley  (chopped in small bits) or flakes (optional)
  • a hand full of some graded Portuguese semi-soft cheese such as from Pico or Sao Miguel, or if you prefer a stronger tingling on your tongue cheese,  St. Jorge cheese would be fine too, but it’s pricey.  You would mix it with about  3/4  cup of plain farmers white brick cheese.
  • Another ingredient I recently experimented with was  Portuguese style black olives, pitted. You can add a handfull of those as well.


The Method:

1) Add some olive oil about 1 tablespoon on your pizza baking pan and spread it with some paper  towel or cooking brush.
2) Spread your dough  out on a very clean  lightly floured  area, you can use a rolling pin, but I prefer to stretch it with my hands.
3) Cut your chouriço in thin sliced round shapes like pepperoni  or cubed.
4) On the pizza dough, spread a large spoon full  of the red pimento paste to create a thin layer of sauce.
5)Top with your favorite Portuguese semi-soft cheese, (about a hand full), then add 1/2 cup of the farmers white cheese.
6)Spread your chouriço pieces over the whole pizza.
7)Top with a handfull of the black Portuguese style olives and a few pinches of fresh parsley or parsley flakes. 

Bake in the oven at 360 degrees Farenheit in the bottom grill for 10 min. Then on the top grill for another 10- 12 minutes.

And take out of oven, let it stand  for about 3 or 5 minutes, enjoy it with some Portuguese white or red wine, and there you go.

My type of Portuguese Pizza !  (Great entertaining appetizer or meal).

Chow for now !!!

M. Dasilva
Creator of  The Portuguese Cook on Youtube