Over the centuries, Portuguese sailors and explorers, followed by priests and merchants, left culinary souvenirs wherever they traveled, from Angola and Mozambique to southern Japan; from Timor-Leste in southeast Asia to the Bahia region of northeast Brazil; from Goa in India to Macau in China. Foods and dishes from Portugal and its various outposts have crossed and recrossed the world.
In Tel Aviv, this influence can be tasted at the Tchernichovsky 6 Bistro and the Porto wine bar, both owned by chef Eyal Meron.
He fell in love with the cuisine and the wines and decided to promote them in his trendy bistro, as well as his wine bar, which is packed with wonderful Portuguese wines.
The bistro menu offers an eclectic mix of traditional dishes and original dishes inspired by that cuisine, which go perfectly with the wines that Meron imports from Portugal.
A recurring ingredient, steeped in Portuguese tradition, is bacalhau – white codfish dried and preserved in salt that must be soaked in water to remove the salt. Other dishes include many fish options and meat stews, as well as seasonal salads and soups.
✔ 10 large red tomatoes, cubed
✔ 2 cucumbers, coarsely chopped
✔ 1 red pepper, coarsely chopped
✔ 20 basil leaves
✔ 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
✔ 5 cloves garlic, chopped
✔ 1 small chili, coarsely chopped
✔ 150 ml. red wine vinegar
✔ 150 ml. olive oil
✔ 2 slices white bread, crust removed
✔ 2 cups tomato juice
✔ Salt and pepper For garnish
✔ Finely chopped cucumber, carrot, ¼ red onion
✔ Olive oil
✔ Ready-made croutons (optional) Place all the ingredients in a food processor and grind well. Strain and taste.
Adjust seasoning and refrigerate.
To serve: Pour into serving dishes and garnish with the finely chopped vegetables, croutons and a few drops of oil.
FISH BALLS WITH ZUCCHINI SALAD AND FETA CHEESE
✔ 1 kg. fillet of fish, chopped with a knife
✔ 1 potato, boiled, peeled and grated (strain to remove excess liquid)
✔ 4 cloves garlic, minced
✔ ½ cup parsley, chopped
✔ ½ cup cilantro, chopped
✔ 2 tsp. salt
✔ ½ tsp. pepper
✔ ½ chili, seeds removed, chopped For the salad
✔ 6 zucchinis or small squash, sliced lengthwise
✔ Olive oil
✔ Atlantic salt (or kosher salt)
✔ Pinch pepper
✔ Handful mint leaves
✔ 150 gr. feta cheese, cubed
To make the fish balls: In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients. With your palms, form into 50-gr. balls.
Heat a heavy skillet and cook with a little oil, 2 minutes on each side. Another option is to grill the fish balls under the grill, 2 minutes on each side.
To make the salad: Heat oven to 250°.
Place the zucchini slices on a lined baking dish and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper and bake for 7 minutes.
Remove from oven, place in a salad bowl, add the mint leaves and cheese cubes. Season to taste.
Serve the salad with the fish balls.
BACALHAU DE GOMES DE SA
Makes 4 appetizers
✔ 1 kg. bacalhau (dried, salted cod), soaked in water
✔ 600 gr. potatoes
✔ 6 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 2 onions, chopped
✔ 1 clove garlic, minced
✔ Salt and pepper
✔ 2 hard-boiled eggs
✔ 16 to 20 pitted black olives
✔ 2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped Before cooking the salted cod, it must be soaked in water for 72 hours, changing the water about 5 times to remove the salt.
Fill a pot with water and boil. Place unpeeled potatoes and soaked fish in the water and cook. When fish is tender, remove the fish from the pot, remove the flesh from the skeleton and discard the bones. Peel the potatoes and cut into medium cubes.
Sauté the onions in olive oil in a large skillet until transparent, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cooked fish and potatoes and cook together for 5 minutes.
Season with a little salt and pepper to taste.
To serve: Place on a serving platter or individual dishes, top with slices of hardboiled egg and garnish with olives and parsley.
PORTUGUESE MEAT STEW
✔ 1 kg. shoulder of beef, cubed
✔ Salt and pepper
✔ Olive oil
✔ 2 onions, peeled and chopped
✔ 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
✔ 8 garlic cloves, sliced
✔ 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
✔ 4 bay leaves
✔ 1 bottle dry red wine
✔ 1 liter chicken broth
✔ 1 red pepper, cubed
✔ 10 seeds allspice
✔ ½ cabbage, sliced
✔ 200 gr. cooked chickpeas Season the meat with salt and pepper.
Heat a heavy pot on high heat, add 2 Tbsp. olive oil and when very hot sear meat on all sides. Transfer to a bowl and let the meat rest.
Lower heat and add to the pot 1 Tbsp.
olive oil. Sauté onions. When the onions are transparent, add the carrots, garlic and tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring.
Return the meat to the pot and add the bay leaf and allspice. Stir, bring the heat up to high and add the red wine.
Bring to a boil and add the chicken broth, bring to a boil again and immediately lower the heat to a simmer.
Cook for 20 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed. Add the red pepper and continue cooking for 2 hours. Add chickpeas and cabbage and cook for another 30 minutes until meat is very tender. Serve with cornbread or sourdough bread. ■
Recipes and photos courtesy of chef Eyal Meron, Tchernichovsky 6, located at 5 Tchernichovsky Street, Tel Aviv, (03) 620-8729.
Porto, 6 Tchernichovsky, (03) 620-6610. Not