Just what is a cataplana?
One of the main talking points on our table at the launch of TASTE PORTUGAL 2014/15 at The Ledbury was the Portuguese Ambassador, João de Vallera, trying to explain to a bunch of British journalists quite what a cataplana is. Brilliant as his drawings were, here is a little further explanation both for those in attendance and other interested parties
‘Much like the word tagine, cataplana is the name for both the recipe and utensil in which the dish is cooked’
MUCH LIKE THE word tagine, cataplana is the name for both the recipe and utensil in which the dish is cooked.
Traditionally made of copper and shaped like two clam shells, hinged at one side and able to be tightly sealed with a clamp, the pan is used to prepare typical Portuguese seafood dishes, popular in the Algarve.
The dish was first introduced back in the 8th century. The fresh ingredients were placed in the bowl-shaped base and the domed top provided a sealed space for them to simmer and infuse.
Ingredients for the cataplana vary from region to region, but the base always includes tomatoes, onions, wine and herbs. Potatoes, firm white seasonal fish, seafood, peppers and a hint of chili are then typically added to the sauce, and the dish is served straight from the cooking pot, accompanied by crusty bread.
The cataplana was invented by Armando Luz (1927-2002), better known by his nickname Pató.