The Christmas fishes

It has been such a while since I took you around Olhão’s superb fish market. When we first arrived in 2014/15 I couldn’t stop taking photographs of the stalls which resulted in post after post on the fish. Here are some of them;

These days I rarely take photographs of the market but the eating of the fish hasn’t stopped. We visit the market a few times every week, eating fish three or four days. Often more!

The reason though for my post today is I wanted to share with you a Christmas delicacy from Olhão. The main ingredient is black mouthed dogfish, which is called litão in Olhão, and letão elsewhere in Portugal. Not to be confused with leitão which is a small suckling pig!

Dried dogfish for sale in the market

Like bacalhau the fish is salted and air dried, but with far less salt (passado por um pouco de sal). The drying stage was once a common sight around the harbour in Olhão. Sadly though we’ve not seen the air drying racks (picture below) for a couple of years, and the area where is used to happen is now being developed into an urban park. It is happening somewhere though, as the fish continues to be sold in the market, and TV crews still regularly visit in November/December to share the story of Olhão’s unique Christmas dish.

If you are intrigued, visit my 2016 post which includes multiple photographs of the drying stage. Click here to visit.

I have eaten a traditional litão dish, and multiple variations of bacalhau. Both are best described as comfort food rather than cordon bleu, but that doesn’t detract (in my opinion at least) from their tastiness. I have even prepared bacalhau myself but have yet to attempt to cook with litão. That is all going to change when we return in January. I have a basic recipe, thanks to Tomázia, and I am hoping the friends who are joining us in February will be up for trying it with us. I will keep you posted! In the meantime as it is almost Christmas, let me finish with one of my favourite photographs of the view from the market.

Feliz Natal!

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.

19 thoughts

  1. Those are all new delicacies to me – well other than cordon bleu, which I love. What’s wrong with cordon bleu??? Vince’s and my traditional Christmas is lasagna. I rarely get turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy anymore.

  2. It is a pity that the drying fish have been over taken by modernisation. Love the boat. Not a fan of fish in general so will be interested what you conjure up for Mr B 🙂 🙂

  3. I’ve only been to Portugal once, long ago, but I do remember the fish markets. Love the boat – was that decked out specially for Christmas?

    1. Their markets are such a joy.

      And yes it is done every year. It’s a replica boat of one that made the journey to Brazil to advise the king that the French had been routed from the Algarve.

  4. Becky, What a great post! The fish market at Olhão is truly phenomenal, a must see experience – the noise but not the smell – there isn’t any, which is as it should be! the incredible variety of fish and the general hustle and bustle. I find it hard to resist the urge to follow people home from the market just to see what they do with the fish that they buy – there’s so much to learn! Meanwhile I will devour your links to your previous fishy posts and will start working through them right now! p.s. Have a great Christmas and a fabulous New Year – hopefully we will at last get back to Olhão then!

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