Cooking in the Algarve – What is a Cataplana?
Do you know dishes prepared with the Cataplana? The Cataplana is a special and unique Portuguese cooking utensil. Interestingly, there is no indication of their origin and when it was cooked.
However, the Cataplana was probably created during the 500-year Moorish settlement (8th – 13th centuries) of the Algarve.
In North Africa, however, there are the Moroccan Tajines whose cooking process resembles that of the Cataplana. In both cooking appliances, the food is steamed under hermetic conditions slowly and at low temperature.
The tagine, however, is made of clay and has a conical shape. The Cataplana consists of two concave pans, which are hinged and can be closed tightly with two side-mounted latches. It is basically a simple model of a pressure cooker.
Originally Cataplanas were made of zinc, later of copper and today also of aluminum. Above all, the use of copper leads to excellent conductivity of the heat throughout the Cataplana and to a special aroma of this precious metal.
The Cataplana, as we know it today, will be decades old in the Algarve in the old smithies, made by masters of this art, for whom the Algarve was once known. However, they are also produced industrially today.
Which dishes are prepared in the Cataplana?
Usually, dishes are prepared with fish or seafood. So is the most famous dish „Amêijoas (clams) na Cataplana“.
The preparation in the Cataplana preserves the aroma as well as vitamins, so it is a healthy food preparation. And so it is very clear: soon a cooking recipe of the Algarve with Cataplana.