Fish – one of the many pleasures in the Algarve

After my weekend introduction to the superb fish market in Olhão I thought (and apologies in advance for this Pete!) I’d take a moment to share with you some of our favourite fish.

Pescada - Hake
Pescada – Hake

Hake (Pescada) may not be the prettiest of fish but it is delicious. The Portuguese really know how to prepare this fish, and we have had some wonderful dishes.  If cooking at home, then you will probably only need 1 fish between 2 people or if you buy fillets in a supermarket make sure you purchase the no 3 or no 5. They are the best cuts.  A very simple way to cook them is to braise in lemon juice, garlic and salt.  You can also marinate them in the same mix and then fry in a very light batter. A very well know recipe is called ‘Hake with Everything’ where the potatoes, greens and hake are all served in the same dish.


One of my husband’s favourite fish is Dover Sole.  This can be a bit of a challenge though to purchase as many of the fishmongers use the name ‘linguado’ for all of the soles and not just Dover.  The quickest way to tell whether you have in front of you the true sole in the fishmarket is by looking at the price, if under 15 euros then it is probably Sand Sole (Linguado da areia).  The most accurate way to tell though is by looking at the ‘white side’ of the fish.  If the nostril bulges up like a wart then it is Sand Sole, if it doesn’t then you are in luck that is Dover Sole. Other soles you might see are Linguado branco (Senegal), Linguado revesso (Klein’s) and Azevia (Four-Eyed Sole). Lingua is Wedge Sole, and those from the mouth of Guadalquivir river are considered by some to be better than Dover Sole.

Atlantic Bonito with Red Mullet in the background
Atlantic Bonito

A fish we have thoroughly enjoyed but comes with many names is Bonito.  It is from the same family as mackerel and tuna and we think it is delicious.  Not always easy to find though unless you know it is also called Serra, Sarrajao and Serrajao.  We have seen them all!  Like many of the fish you buy from the market, they look quite small when you choose them from the counter but when you get home you realise you have enough for 3 or more.  So always check the weight before you decide to buy a second or third!

Red Mullet
Red Mullet

Did you spot the Red Mullet beside the Bonito?  Its name is Salmonete in Portugal.  There are two types of Red Mullet apparently, and one shown in both photographs is the Salmonete de Roca.  I only know this because of Alan Davidson’s excellent book which is beside me as I type this and advises that three yellow stripes means Salmonete de Roca.  The other is called Salmonete de Fango, same rosy red but paler underneath and no stripes.  The recommendation is to grill them, although isn’t that the recommendation for most fish?!

One of the largest fish you will see in the market is Corvina, which we call Meagre.  You can stew it or serve it as steaks, lookswise I’d say Perch and I guess taste wise it is very similar to Sea Bass (Robalo).  It is one of the more expensive fishes on sale, and only a few fishmongers ever seem to have it. Well worth trying.


You’ve probably had enough fish for today so I will stop there.  I will be back in a week or so with my third instalment but perhaps after a non-fishy tale.  When I do return I have lots more photographs to share but even then I won’t be anywhere near covering all of the fish you will see in the Algarve!  Hopefully though I have inspired you to try something new – whether in a restaurant or at home. Do let me know if you try something new, and also please do share your favourites – it is lovely to hear from you.

Author: BeckyB

It had been a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, blogging, and best of all spending time with MrB, family, & friends. Sadly it no longer is. Suddenly and unexpectedly I have become a widow.