One of my favorite appetizers in Portugal is Amêijoas à Bolhao Pato. Like Portuguese fish, there are claims that Portugal has the best clams (safe to say sea creatures in general are excellent in Portugal). Whether these claims are valid or not, I can assure you the clams in Portugal are so damn delicious. And though you can’t go wrong at most places, the batch at Pinoquio in Lisbon rocks my world. At first glance, I thought this place might be a tourist trap because it’s located in busy Rossio Square and not too far from the restaurant row, Portas de Santo Antao, which with the exception of a few restaurants is indeed a tourist trap. But Pinoquio proved to be a pleasant surprise. Their ameijoas are submerged in a thick olive oil sauce and served in a STEAMING pot that the waiter rushes out with a pot holder on the handle and another in place of a lid. Sopping up bread in this sauce is orgasmic! Though I enjoy Pinoquio’s version, sometimes I’m up for a lighter sauce that allows the briny integrity of these flavorsome mollusks to be the highlight. Lisbon’s Cervejaria Ramiro delivers and so does O Velho e o Mar in Sesimbra, a fishing town in Setubal district, also a terrific spot for grilled fish.
- Submerge the clams in a large bowl of salted water for approximately 10 minutes in order to encourage them to spit out any sand. Rinse and scrub the clams thoroughly then drain them and set aside.
- Heat half of the olive oil in a deep pan or cataplana over medium high heat. Toss in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Pour in the water and wine and bring it to a boil.
- Once the liquid has come to a boil add in the clams, cover, and steam for 5-10 minutes or until the clams have opened.
- Ladle the liquid over the clams to saturate them in the sauce and season with pepper. Top off with fresh cilantro before serving with good Portuguese bread.