Fish Tales Flavours of Portugal

A fish is . . . . . .

. . . . . any member of a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic craniate animals that lack limbs with digits so say Wikipedia!   I prefer to think of them as amazing creatures that live in water and of which many are absolutely delicious to eat. Been a couple of weeks since my last Fish Tales update and when I looked at my album the other day it was the fish with fascinating names that caught my eye. I have no idea if they are delicious to eat!

If you have tried any of these then do let me know what they are like, and also if you have any recommendations on the best way to serve to them.

Robo - Red Gunard
Robo – Red Gunard

The bright red back of the Red Gunard explains the name. The Red Gunard has similar characteristics to that of the scorpion fish family – large heads and what Alan Davidson in his Tio Pepe guide describes as ‘armour plated cheeks’. It is though its fins which are spectacular, unfortunately though you cannot really see those in this photograph. It is a fish that has grown in favour in recent years, once used as lobster bait or thrown back in the sea by fisherman, it can now be found in many restaurants.

Elvers- Glass Eels
Elvers- Glass Eels

My next photograph is of something which were still very much alive on the day I was taking photographs. Apparently the best way to cook them is do so swiftly in oil and garlic. I’ve yet to try them, and I’m not sure I will as their snake like movement has made me quite squirmish! They are though considered a delicacy. They were selling for 15Euros a kg earlier this year. Their English name is Elvers  and in Olhão on the day I took the photograph the name on the card looked like Ieozes but I’ve been unable to find that name anywhere, the names I have found are Angula, Enguia and Meixao.

Forkbeard - Abrotia
Forkbeard – Abrotia

The next fish has two wonderful English names. Its official name is Forkbeard, but also goes by Sweaty Betty!  What a fabulous name, I’ve yet to find out why it was called this.  So if you know do let me know by leaving a comment below. It is a deep sea fish, and a member of the Cod family. Apparently it is very good to eat but the flesh is quite soft so the recommendation is to eat soon after purchase and to fry.

Weeverfish - watch out it has poisonous spines
Weeverfish – watch out it has poisonous spines

There are two types of Weever – Aranha grande and Aranha. These are definitely Aranhas because of their yellowish colour and brown pattern along the sides. Generally this fish is used in stews, although the larger ones can be filleted. The most important thing is to make sure those dorsal spines have been cut off when you buy them, and if you are bathing barefoot and are stung it was probably the fault of the Weeverfish. Every few years in England you will read reports of people being stung by them, fortunately in most cases the symptoms will subside after removing large spines with tweezers and/or bathing the foot or hand in hot water.  Their name – Weever – comes from an old French word  wivre – which means serpent or dragon.

Anchovy - its home territory is the Mediterranean and Atlantic up to the Bay of Biscay
Anchovy – its home territory is the Mediterranean and Atlantic up to the Bay of Biscay

My final fish is one everyone has heard of, and that’s the Anchovy. In Portugal it has two names, Anchova and Biqueirão. Its name may not be as fascinating or unusual as the others in this post but I love saying it which is why I have included it here!  In England we tend to think of anchovies as strong tasting, salty and in tins. In Portugal and many other countries you can buy it fresh. One of the fishmongers in Olhão only seems to sell anchovies, and it is fascinating watching them fillet as usually they are in full debate with someone else whilst they fillet. It is a very common fish, and I cook with the cured ones all the time. I’ve never tried them fresh though, must rectify this when we return to Olhão in November.

6 comments on “A fish is . . . . . .

  1. Just popped in to say thank you for the reblog to Aly’s review. It was a kind way to do it, disabling comments. 🙂 We might well try it one lunchtime. I’ve passed it by but seldom at the right time of day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve only eaten eel in Japanese restaurants and quite liked it but you are right if you think aboutthe live creature it can make you squeamish. Same goes for frogs legs and snails though…and in my case rabbit. I have never been able to overcome my mind to eat rabbit despite trying all the other things on this list!

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  3. Enguias are also called “eirós” or “eiroses (plural) and these are medium sized eels as far as I understand…have never eaten them and doubt I ever will (as I am the princess of squirmish 😉 ) but people love them and there is even a restaurant not very far from where I live that is specialized in them, can you believe it??? 🙂

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