Hey foodies! I thought it had been a while since my last “cuisine” post. I have to say that the food here in Portugal is pretty yummy. You just have to avoid the tourist traps *cough*Sandra*cough*. The photo above was about half of the sushi haul we took from an all you can eat sushi & sashimi buffet 5 minutes from my house. It costs 11 Euros for lunch (sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki) and 16 Euros for dinner. If you want to take out they give you 2 boxes for lunch and 3 boxes for dinner for the same price. You can fit a lot of sashimi in those boxes for sure. The picture above does not depict the box of other tempura and rolls we also took. There are several “all you can eat” sushi places in Lisbon. They are almost all owned by expatriate Chinese. I found out that Chinese people don’t pay any taxes at all in Portugal. No wonder they are able to practically give away sushi.
My roommate Stefi’s friend Nelson invited us to his birthday dinner at 100 Maneiras Restaurant near Largo de Camões. The restaurant is run by Chef Ljubomir Stanisic (great name btw), one of the chef judges on Master Chef Portugal. There’s a bit of a pun in the name of the restaurant. In Portuguese the number 100 (cem) is pronounced the same way as the word “without” (sem). So when you say the name of the restaurant it sounds like you are saying “without manners”.
100 Maneiras is also one of the restaurants that Anthony Bourdain visited when he came to shoot an episode of No Reservations in Lisbon this past November. Check out his press conference talking about coming to Lisbon.
The frog legs were pretty good, but anyone who has had them before will tell you they taste just like chicken. The dish was followed by a tartare of sorts with tuna and a bunch of other toppings to be enjoyed on “tostas”.
With this dish you basically dump all the ingredients in the ramekins into the bowl with the egg and tuna and mix it around and then eat it on the tostas. It was fresh and delicious.
The main course was called “Leitão” in Portuguese, or suckling pig in English. I believe it was wrapped in culinary twine and roasted in an oven with some sweet molasses/soy sauce mixture. It was served with a puree of sweet potato, carrots, and spinach.
The meat was tender and juicy, and it reminded me a lot of the pork knuckle that my mom makes. After the dinner, I was so inspired by the dish that I ate that I set out to make a Leitão of my own. I asked my mom for her pork knuckle recipe to see if I could apply it to the suckling pig. Did it work?
I went to the grocery store a few days later and picked up this hearty cut of pork. It says “whole suckling pig” on the label. And when it says “whole pig” it really means “deboned choice cuts of the pig plus a few parts that might make you squeamish”. You know what I’m talking about. Even though I tried not to serve those parts and the ear to others Stefi still found one on her plate. She held it up and asked, “um…what’s this!?!?”
I replied, “It’s um, well, here I’ll eat it.”
In the pot: pieces of suckling pig still on the bone, a half cup of soy sauce, 4 tablespoons of fine turbinado sugar, water to cover the pork, one large french onion chopped, 4 cloves of garlic smashed, 2 tablespoons of chopped ginger, nutmeg, and one pod of star anise.
Cut the pieces of suckling pig with a meat cleaver into manageable pieces depending on the size of your pot. Add the soy sauce, sugar, and a little bit of water into the pot and bring to a boil. Add the pieces of pork to brown the skin and meat for about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium if needed to avoid burning.
Boil water in a separate pot. Once that water is boiling, pour enough of it in the pot with the pork to cover the pork. It is very important that the water you add is already boiling because “cooking is chemistry”. If you add cold water to a hot pot it stops the cooking process. Boo!
Add garlic, ginger, nutmeg, french onion, and star anise. Stir around so that it’s all mixed up. Add a few dashes of more soy sauce and a few pinches more of sugar. Simmer for 1.5 – 2 hours until meat falls off the bone. After about one hour, try to fish out the star anise pod and discard to prevent too much licorice flavor. Serve with steamed rice.