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Cataplana Clams

Cataplana Clams

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In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the garlic, pimentón, red chile pepper flakes, and ½ cup of the olive oil until it forms a paste.

In a bowl, pour the paste over the pancetta and let marinate for at least 1 hour. (You can marinate it overnight, if you wish.)

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the marinated pancetta, cover, and continue cooking for 10 more minutes.

Remove the lid and add the white wine. Replace the lid and continue cooking until the liquid has reduced by ½. Add the clams and cook, covered, until all the clams have opened, 4-5 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Top with the parsley and season with salt, to taste. Serve in warmed bowls with lots of crusty bread.

Cataplana Clams - Recipes

About 30 minutes, plus overnight marinating

This ditzy recipe came with my cataplana pan. It’s headlined “Pork and Mussels Cataplana” and calls for mussels in the ingredient list, but the instructions say clams. I’ve used both, but usually clams, so that is what I’m listing here. Despite that (which was probably a translation error) it’s a recipe for a great, slightly unusual dish. If you don’t have a cataplana pan, a deep frying pan with a tight lid will do nicely.

1 tablespoon sweet pimenton

1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

1 pound pork cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I use boneless pork country ribs)

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

In a small food processor, grind the marinade ingredients to a paste.

Place the pork in a plastic bag, add the marinade, and squish around until they&rsquore thoroughly mixed. Close the bag tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Heat olive oil in the pan, add the pork, and cook over high heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the wine and boil about 3 minutes. Return the pork (with any juices) to the pan, mix well, then add the clams. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until the clams open.

Discard any clams that haven&rsquot opened. Sprinkle the parsley over the top and serve immediately.

Choose your Cataplana and discover the best recipes.

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 - T he copper Cataplana

The copper Cataplana is the traditional Portuguese Cataplana from the Algarve, the southernmost region of Portugal.

2 - The Cataplana in stainless steel.

For those who use induction cooking fires, it is necessary to use a stainless steel cataplana.

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

★ Cataplana of fish

  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

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

Mixed Seafood Cataplana

Cataplana is both the name of this dish and the copper vessel in which it's traditionally cooked. The dish originates in southern Portugal and commonly features clams and other coastal delights.


  • 450 g littleneck clams
  • 450 g mussels
  • 150 g shell-on jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 count/about 8 total)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (approx)
  • 150 g dry-cured chorizo sausage , chopped
  • 2 shallots , thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (approx)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 2 plum tomatoes , chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup clam juice
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves

Nutritional facts PER EACH OF 6 SERVINGS: about

  • Fibre 1 g
  • Sodium 668 mg
  • Sugars 2 g
  • Protein 22 g
  • Calories 285
  • Total fat 17 g
  • Potassium 541 mg
  • Cholesterol 83 mg
  • Saturated fat 5 g
  • Total carbohydrate 9 g


Using stiff brush, scrub clams and mussels remove any beards. Discard any with cracked shells or those that do not close when tapped. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact.

In Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat oil over medium heat cook sausage, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add shallots, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper cook, stirring, until fragrant and shallots are beginning to soften, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, wine and clam juice bring to boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add clams cover and cook for 2 minutes. Add mussels and shrimp, gently shaking pot to distribute evenly cover and cook until mussels and clams have opened and shrimp are pink and opaque throughout, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Discard any mussels or clams that do not open. Sprinkle with parsley drizzle with more oil and sprinkle with more paprika, if desired.

Test Kitchen Tip: This recipe feeds six when served as an appetizer or four as a main course. Serve alongside a green salad and some crusty bread for dipping into the broth.

Copper At Its Best: How To Use A CataplanaHow To Use A Portuguese Cataplana

I lose all impulse control when I’m in a kitchen-supply store. The myriad cooking vessels and specialized tools trigger all my consumer pressure points and send me into an aspirational frenzy. During one of these recent bouts, I discovered a beautiful, clam-shaped pan known as a cataplana. Oddly shaped, made of copper and featuring locking latches on the sides, I was thoroughly perplexed and inspired.

Cataplana refers to both a traditional southern Portuguese meat and seafood stew and the pot it is prepared in, like a North African tagine. The exact origins of the pot, much like the stew, are a bit murky, but it’s thought to have originated during the 8 th century under Moorish occupation. As both a vessel and an iconic dish, cataplana reflects the rich fishing community of the Algarve region, which shares coastline with the north Atlantic and the Gulf of Cadiz. Fishermen would use the vessel to haul ingredients and the daily catch, and then prepare their meals in the same pot directly over a fire.

There are stainless steel cataplana vessels available, but the best, classic versions are made of hammered copper. Copper conducts heat incredibly well, which makes it ideal for slow cooking on low heat. Shaped like a clam with two domed halves, the pot seals in moisture like a Dutch oven, encouraging a steaming effect inside the vessel. The latches on the side lock the dome closed, emulating a pressure cooker. The cataplana is essentially an uncanny combination of slow cooker or Dutch oven, tagine and modern pressure cooker.

Opens like a clam and cooks clams! Form meeting function at its very best.

The result is a pot whose shape and material are perfectly suited for cooking the fare local to the region: shellfish. There are many interpretations of cataplana, but traditional stews are prepared with a combination of clams and shredded pork or sausage in a rich tomato base. Like all great dishes, however, the key is to use ingredients fresh and native to the region. Mussels and spicy chorizo squid, cockles, and cured ham octopus and rabbit all are superb variations.

I opted for a spicy chorizo, squid and mussel version using tomatoes from the tail end of the season at the farmers’ market. Super-fresh shellfish is integral as the limited number of ingredients foregrounds the delicate flavor profiles of the seafood. The preparation of the stew itself is quite simple and differs very little from how you might prepare mussels in white wine or other rustic stews and braises. However, preparation of the pot is another matter entirely.

As I learned from Diana Gringle, the buyer at Sur La Table responsible for sourcing the cataplana from a small factory in Portugal, all copper pots are typically coated in a heavy lacquer finish to prevent tarnishing during stocking and shipping. Before using, this lacquer must be removed, otherwise the pot will tarnish when placed over heat. It’s not necessarily harmful to use the pot without removing this coating since none of the lacquer is on the inside of the vessel and therefore won’t come in contact with food. But why risk it? And do you really want a chemical layer on your pot?

The suggested cleaning method is to boil the pot in a mixture of water and baking soda until the lacquer seeps off, but I don’t own a pot large enough to submerge the cataplana in, and you can’t boil water in the bathtub. I moved to plan B, which meant tediously scrubbing the pot with acetone nail polish and cotton balls. The lacquer eventually sloughed off, and after a thorough wash in warm, soapy water, the cataplana was ready for use.

Copper pots are beloved for a reason, and the cataplana was no exception. It cooked evenly without any hot spots, and using an oven mitt, I was able to easily latch the dome closed. I chose to place the pot directly on the burner (on low heat only), but you can easily prop it on a wok ring over the burner as well. The cataplana stew was fresh and flavorful, and the shellfish were some of the most plump and succulent I’ve ever made in similar dishes (recipe below).

The cataplana was easy enough to clean, but I recommend using copper cleaner or polish to keep it looking pristine. The pan was a refreshing combination of form and function, and easily the most eye-catching addition to my kitchen.

Traditional Portuguese fish and spicy sausage stew cooked in a cataplana. (Photo: reisverhalen/Flickr.)

Chorizo and Mussels Cataplana Stew


  • 2 pounds cleaned mussels
  • 1 pound cleaned squid, sliced into ½-inch rings and tentacles separated
  • ½ pound chorizo (roughly 2-3 sausages), sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes, or generous 2-3 cups fresh diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional, but encouraged)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup chopped parsley stems (optional)
  • Chopped fresh herbs to garnish, such as parsley and chives

*Before cooking, ensure that your cataplana pot is free of lacquer and completely dry.

Amjijoas Na Cataplana (Steamed Clams with Sausage & Tomato Sauce)

To make the accompanying Portuguese Tomato Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 large can (35 oz.) Italian-style tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup Italian tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried basil leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper pods
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add sliced onions and sauté them over medium heat about 2 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and stir, separating onion slices, for about 4 minutes longer, until onions are soft, but not browned.
  3. Add parsley, tomatoes (including all their liquid), tomato paste and all other ingredients. Break up any whole tomatoes with a spoon.
  4. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  5. Adjust seasoning to taste. If the sauce is too sour, add a dash of sugar, acidity varies depending on the type of vinegar used.
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This recipe is delicious with Chourico, a spicier version of the Portuguese sausage called linguicia. Usually anyplace that sells linguicia would also sell chourico. Around here we just call it Pork and littlenecks with some chunks of pork in it as well! It is the BOMB!

Our apologies, some quantities were missing on this recipe. They have been added and the recipe updated. Thanks for catching that!


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Portuguese Seafood & Fish Cataplana

A few years ago, our family visited the Azores. As usual, we had an amazing time! It’s always so nice to see friends and family relax by the ocean and eat delicious fresh locally-grown (and caught) food. During our visits we usually receive a few lunch and dinner invites from family and friends. We try to accommodate all invites–it’s more eating, relaxing, chatting with friends, and no matter where you are on the island, you’re always close to the ocean.

One of our usual visits is right next door to my parent’s place. Manuel Lourenço is my mom’s cousin, and he and his wife, María José, are not just family, they are also very good friends. They’re the type of family you can count on… anytime, no questions asked. They are kind and generous souls with big hearts. We’ve been lucky to enjoy meals with them at their house as well as at their adega (house where homemade wine is made–also a cottage for many). During our second-last visit, we were invited to their adega and I knew I was in for a treat! Although there’s no shortage of delicious foods on these vacations, I knew they were preparing something I’d never tried before–a Cataplana.

Cataplana is both the name of the meal and the unique Portuguese vessel that it’s cooked in. The Cataplana (the vessel) looks like two woks–with one ‘bowl’ on the bottom and the other on top, creating a sort of dome look when the lid is closed. Food cooks inside this vessel with a bit of pressure and steam. No one seems sure of the exact origin of the Cataplana, but most articles I read say that the Cataplana, as we know it today, began many years ago in the Algarve region of mainland Portugal. More traditional Cataplana meals are made with seafood, fish or both. In more recent years, cataplanas are also made with a variety of meats.

Needless to say, the food we ate at their adega was delicious and memorable! So much so, that the next time we visited, they prepared the same dish because they knew how much I had enjoyed it on the previous visit.

My parents hadn’t forgotten how much I loved that meal and how I’d mentioned wanting to try making cataplana some day. As you may recall, they’re visiting with us for a few months and when they arrived and unpacked, I can’t tell you how excited I was when they pulled a cataplana (the vessel, not the meal) from their luggage. What a treat! I could hardly wait to try it out. Although you can cook many types of food in a Cataplana, I wanted the first one to be just like the traditional one I had at my cousin’s house back on the Island.

I’m so excited to share this recipe with you… and if you’re new to Cataplana, I’m thrilled to introduce you to this wonderful way of cooking. Don’t be afraid to try new things in the kitchen, and always eat well, friends!

Cataplana Clams - Recipes

/>My guest for Episode 119 of my show is Jasper White, a long time friend from Boston. Although he and I have never worked together, we have many connections. One of his early chef partners was Lydia Shire, my first chef on my first job at the Harvest Restaurant in Boston. Jasper worked at many restaurants in the Boston area including the dining rooms of the Copley Plaza, The Parker House, and The Bostonian. His fine dining restaurant, Jasper’s, which featured elegant New England Fare, was located in the same spot on the waterfront where I had been the chef at a restaurant called “Cybele’s” in the early 80’s. After running this elegant place for many years, Jasper switched gears to open a more casual place, in effect a loud energetic clam shack, called Summer Shack, in Cambridge in May 2002. It was one of Julia Child’s favorite places to eat. (She had a huge crush on Jasper). The success of the Cambridge restaurant spawned two more “Summer Shacks,” one at the Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Connecticut and another in Boston’s Back Bay. Jasper is the author of many cookbooks, including Lobster at Home, Scribner 1998, Fifty Chowders, Scribner 2000 and The Summer Shack Cookbook, Norton 2007 which is where you’ll find the recipes we made on my show. Jasper has been a frequent guest on my shows throughout the years. It is always a pleasure to have him on. Here is his recipe for Cataplana.

Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Total preparation time: 30 minutes

8 whole allspice berries
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large or 4 small dried bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small onion (3 to 4 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small to medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
One 6-ounce piece chouriço, cut into 16 slices
One 14-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, juice reserved, and diced
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds small little neck clams (about 32 clams), scrubbed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Working Ahead – the stew can be made completely ahead to the point where the clams go in chill it quickly in a sink of ice water, then cover and refrigerate. To finish, bring the stew base up to a boil over medium heat, add the clams and proceed with the recipe.

Crack the allspice berries gently by crushing them under a small frying pan. Heat the oil in a cataplana or a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the allspice berries, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bay leaves turn dark olive, about 1 minute.

Add the garlic and swirl it in the oil until golden brown on the edges, about 1 minute. Stir in the onion and bell pepper, increase the heat to medium-high, and sauté, stirring frequently, until the bell pepper begins to lose its vibrant color, about 4 minutes.

Add the chouriço and sauté it until it begins to tint the vegetables brownish-red, about another minute. Stir in the tomatoes, with their juice, the wine, and black pepper and let the stew come to a boil at a leisurely pace. (No salt will be needed because of the natural salinity of the clams.)

Add the clams, cover tightly, and steam them for 5 minutes. Stir them quickly, cover the pot again, and steam for another 4 to 5 minutes, until all the clams are open. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve family-style in the cataplana or divide among four soup plates.

Heat the oil in a large cataplana or a pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat until it shimmers.

Dump in the chouriço (or dry-cured Spanish chorizo) and presunto (or Serrano ham, prosciutto) and cook, stirring occasionally, until touched with brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

Lower the heat to medium, drop in the onions and bay leaf, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Stir in the tomatoes and any accumulated juice, the wine, and paprika.

Discard any clams that feel heavy (which means they're full of sand), have broken shells, or don't close when tapped.

Plonk the clams into the pot and turn the heat to high.

If using a cataplana, lock it and cook 10 to 12 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the clams open.

If using a pot, cook, covered, until the clams pop open, 10 to 12 minutes.

Carry the cataplana triumphantly to the table, making sure everyone's watching, then release the lid.

Discard the bay leaf and toss out any clams that refuse to pop open.

Season with a few grinds of pepper, shower with parsley, and ladle the stew into wide shallow bowls.


Melt the butter in a 12 inch skillet and saut? the linguica and chorizo cubes until browned, add the crumbled bacon, onions, scallion leaves, garlic, green pepper, parsley, mushrooms, fresh tomato and black pepper, saut?, stirring frequently until the vegetables are limp and transparent.

Add the white wine and stir it in. Scrape the bottom and sides of the skillet to dissolve any brown particles clinging to the pan, This stuff imparts a wallop to the sauce.

Add the Molho tomato sauce and the Tabasco and stir them in. The Portuguese call this concoction a "sofrito" and it forms the basis of many dishes.

Smooth the sauce out on the bottom of the pan and lay the little necks on top of it. Pour two cups of the seafood stock over the clams. Cover the skillet and cook until the clams open. Discard any that look suspicious.

Transfer the dish to a deep soup bowl.

Drink lots of Lancers wine and dip Portuguese rolls in it. It is heaven!

Watch the video: Portuguese Cataplana