Tuesday, 1 October 2013


Portuguese cuisine has many Mediterranean* influences as well as former colonial influences noted in the wide variety of spices used (piri piri, black pepper, cinnamon and saffron), olive oil which is one of the bases of Portuguese cuisine both for cooking and flavouring meals, garlic which is also widely used as are herbs such as coriander and parsley.
Portugal also has a very well-developed fishing industry which is reflected in the abundance of fish and seafood based traditional dishes. Fish is consumed grilled, boiled, poached, fried, deep fried, roasted and stewed. One traditional stewed fish dish is fish rice. This dish combines traditional Mediterranean vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes, fish, wine, olive oil and coriander; the combination of these ingredients results in an amazingly flavoursome (and healthy!) dish. I have adapted my version slightly; instead of frying the onion and garlic in olive oil I use a mixture of oil and water to ‘sweat’ the onion and garlic. Although olive oil** is one of the healthiest fats due to it’s heart protecting benefits it is still a fat and therefore should be consumed in moderation.

* The principal aspects of the Mediterranean diet include a high consumption of olive oil, legumes, vegetables, fruit and unrefined cereals, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products. This results in a diet low in saturated fat and high in monosaturated fat and dietary fibre (essential for good intestinal function).

** Olive oil has a high level of monounsaturated fats, which studies suggest may be linked to a reduction in coronary heart disease risk. Studies also suggest that there is evidence that the antioxidants in olive oil may improve cholesterol regulation and LDL (‘bad cholesterol’) reduction and that it has other anti-inflammatory and blood pressure regulating effects.

This fish rice recipe really is delicious. The fish combined with coriander and the sweetness of the peppers is really amazing and whilst you are cooking your kitchen will be full of some amazing smells!

2 white fish fillets (~100g)***
1 Onion
2 cloves of garlic 
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
2 tomatoes
½ tablespoon of olive oil
2 tbsp of water
2 tablespoons of white wine
80g brown rice (add more rice if you wish to feed more people)
2 ½ cups of water (~500ml)

*** Most traditional recipes use fresh fish fillets. I use frozen and the end result is just as good.


  1. Finely chop the garlic, onion, peppers and tomatoes.
  2. Add the olive oil and water to a pan and sweat the onion and garlic.
  3. Add the peppers, tomatoes, coriander and flaked fish fillets over a medium heat.
  4. When the fish starts to whiten, add the white wine and simmer for 2 mins.
  5. Add the rice and stir.
  6. Add the 2 ½ cups of water and simmer (this will depend on what rice you are using and how long it takes to cook).
  7. Serve and add a sprinkle of coriander for decoration.

You can have the fish rice on its own or you could accompany it with boiled broccoli or a tomato salad.

Tip: To make this dish even more flavoursome make your own fish stock and use it instead of plain water (I would avoid using stock cubes as these are extremely high in salt). You could also add some prawns.
If you fancy a stronger tomato flavour you could add a tin of chopped tomatoes (you would then reduce the amount of added water used to cook the rice).

*Bone Appetite* :)

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