Entering from the East Entrance

Entering from the East Entrance

Fish Market (3)Fish Market (9)

Walking into Olhão’s fish market is an incredible experience, and if you are just there to browse then you will probably leave feeling amazed.  Going there to buy though can sometimes feel quite daunting even though the fishmongers are lovely and the quality of fish is incredible.  For those who regularly visit a good fish market you are probably wondering why I might be saying this. It is because sometimes we just don’t know where to start as the range of fish is amazing.

Shore Crabs - you do need proper utensils to eat these so maybe best to try in a restaurant.

Shore Crabs – you do need proper utensils to eat these so maybe best to try in a restaurant.

The other challenge for us is that the majority of fish on sale is unknown in northern waters and consequently unrecognizable to most northern Europeans, and then there are the names. Yes everything is named, but some of the names are regional or generic ones.  Can be challenge when trying to determine exactly which Flounder, Bream or Sole they are selling and which you actually want. We have found Alan Davidson’s ‘The Tio Pepe Guide to the Seafood of Spain and Portugal‘ invaluable in helping us to identify.

Took us a while to identify the Torpedo fish because it is nearly always sold skinned. The Ray however we knew straight off and even the name is similar

Took us a while to identify the Torpedo fish – Tremelga – mainly because it is nearly always sold skinned.  The Ray however we knew straight off and even the name – Raia – is similar.  Couldn’t tell you which Rays we saw though!

Our repeated purchase has been Pescada (Hake)  – it’s such a delicious fish and so easy to prepare.  I also love the fact you can buy a mix of fish for a fish stew or curry.  This is called Caldeirada, and it is well worth purchasing as not only does it save you the trouble of making a decision about what to buy but you get a great mix of fresh fish.

Some of the fishmongers only sell dried fish and cuttlefish

Some of the fishmongers only sell dried fish and cuttlefish

I've never seen so much squid and cuttlefish. I made a fabulous tomato stew one day, but thank goodness she skinned and cleaned it for me!

I’ve never seen so much squid and cuttlefish. I made a fabulous tomato stew one day, but thank goodness she skinned and cleaned it for me!

Another good thing to make is squid stew, hence the pictures above!   Today though I thought I’d focus on some of the more unusual fish you will see on sale in the markets.

Moray Eel - easy to identify but first time I have ever seen one.

Moray Eel – easy to identify but first time I have ever seen one.

Conger Eels - the following day there were eels trying to escape!

Conger Eels – Safio – the following day there were eels trying to escape!

Shopping here really is a little bit of an adventure as you try and decide what type of fish you are looking at, and then what you want to eat.  In fact I rarely decide what we are going to have as I’m either too busy taking photographs or it all looks so good that I am overwhelmed by the choice and so leave it to my lovely husband to choose!

Gar Fish don't look that unusual but when cooked their bones turn green!

Gar Fish  – Agulha – don’t look that unusual but when cooked their bones turn green!

Skinned conger eels along with the Torpedo Fish and

Skinned conger eels (Safio) along with the Torpedo Fish (Tramelga) and Toadfish (Charroco)

Dried octopus, dried octopus eggs and dried dog fish

Dried octopus, dried octopus eggs and dried dog fish

Close up of the Octopus Eggs - Ovas Polvo Secas

Close up of the Octopus Eggs – Ovas Polvo Secas

One of the more unusual is the Nursehound – Gata or Roxo – mainly because of the way it is sold.  I have shown below the versions we have seen to date.

Nursehound also known as Spotted Dogfish

Nursehound also known as Spotted Dogfish

The Portugeuse dry the Nursehound, very popular Christmas

The Portugeuse dry the Nursehound, very popular at Christmas especially in the east Algarve

Drying Nursehound

Drying the Nursehound

Angler Fish without the head, more often described as Monk Fish on menus

Angler Fish without the head, often described as Monk Fish on menus

The head of the Angler Fish

The head of the Angler Fish – Tamboril

If you have come across something which you are unsure what it is, then I will be sharing photographs of some of the more common fish in the next few weeks.  If you cannot wait until my next two Fish Market posts then pop across to Fishbase and/or Oceanario as these are great fish identification sites, or if you are in Olhão stop for lunch at Vai e Volta for perfectly grilled fish.