It’s in the confection details as well as the knowledge acquired from the past generations, that the richness of Portuguese regional gastronomy is based. If there are dishes that identify the Algarvian culinary heritage, the carapaus alimados (horse mackerel Algarve style) is, undoubtedly, one of them.
Characteristic of the Algarve coastal area, when it was necessary to preserve the fish in the brine, this dish illustrates the simplicity and purism of this ingredient so appreciated by us, the Algarvian people.
Nowadays, although we have several ways of preserving and eating fresh fish, the horse mackerel is still a trendy dish, especially in the summer with a tomato salad and boiled potatoes.
It may seem counterintuitive, however, even if it needs prior conservation by the wise technique of salting, the horse mackerel has to be fresh to preserve its authentic flavour. This, explains Maria Rosa of Barão de São João, while cleaning and seasoning the fish.
Ti ‘Rosinha, as she is known, shared with Mar d’Estórias, the recipe of this dish, which she serves weekly at home, during the summer:
“Buy the fresh horse mackerels in the fish market and remove the head and the gut. Wash with running water and season the fish with a generous amount of sea salt. It is then layered in a perforated container where the fish marinates in salt for at least 4 hours.
In a pan, when the water is boiling, place the fish and cook it for 5 minutes or when the fish’s tail comes out easily. Remove from the heat, add cold water to the pan and allow the fish to cool. You only remove the skin of the fish at the end of the day or the next day. ”
The process of the fish skin removal is called “alimar”, hence the name carapaus alimados.
Traditionally, the carapaus alimados are served after being generously seasoned with olive oil, vinegar or lemon and plenty of laminated or crushed garlic. It is also usual to add onion and parsley to taste.
To all fish lovers who have not yet tasted this delicacy, Mar d’Estórias challenges you to head south for a typical Algarvian lunch.
1. Remove the navel spine from the fish so that its flesh becomes firmer;
2. You can ask the fishman seller to prepare the horse mackerel for this purpose;
3. Option to dip the fish in cold water, before serving, to become less salty.