Carapau, or Mackerel if you prefer...

During a Portuguese Summer there is only one way to cook: grilling.

Well, that's only partially true. You can bake or roast, stew or boil, saute or fry or any of the countless other techniques that are used everywhere else in the world, but then your home will turn into a sweltering oven and you'll probably cook yourself in the process. Let's just say, it's not the best idea, making grilling outside the best option. 

As with the rest of the world, there are some top things that go great on the grill here, but my favorite is the peixe e marisco (fish and seafood). Maybe that is because I've always loved both, or maybe it's the fresh variety you can get here that it seems silly to do much else. It's also easy and uncomplicated, but oh so good. Take for instance the carapau, an inexpensive and tasty fish that you can find just about anywhere. 
Carapau, or Mackerel if you prefer...

For those that don't know about carapau, don't worry, it's not some weird fish that you've never heard of. It's in all actuality, mackerel. I found this out only a few months ago when I went on a walking food and wine tour in downtown Lisbon guided by my friend Andrea, who just happens to be another American in Portugal. She was able to educate me on many foods in Portugal that I had no idea what they were called in English or Portuguese. Needless to say,  it was a much needed tour. 

Now, as I said, Portuguese grilling is pretty easy. It doesn't need complicated spices or marinades, though it is done. Usually all that is needed is a sprinkling of salt and a drizzle of olive oil before slapping a good fresh fish on a hot grill. Squeeze some lemon juice and add some fresh coentros (cilantro/coriander) on top and you're good to go!

Carapau and Sal Carapau and Azeite
Carapau on the grill

Grilled Carapau
  • 6 fresh carapau (mackerel)
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • 1 lemon (optional)
  • cilantro (optional)
Rinse carapau under cool water to remove any loose scales and pat dry with paper towels. Place fish in a tray before seasoning.

Sprinkle each side of fish with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Cover and set aside while you get the grill ready.

Clean and oil the cooking grate.

Build a hot fire for grilling. If using wood or charcoal, wait until the fire has died down to red hot coals before cooking over them. 

Lay carapau (mackerel) on the oiled grill grate and cook 4-10 minutes each side, depending on how big the fish are. When sardines are fully cooked, they will be firm and inside meat will be opaque.

Squeeze lemon juice on top and sprinkle with cilantro.

Grilled Carapau


Vicky said...

Simple but perfect! Great recipe for summer time grilling season!

Rochelle Ramos said...

Thanks! It is one of my favorites 'cause it not only tastes good and is healthy, but it's also soooo easy to do.

Pola M said...

I love grilled blue fish! if only it was more popular over here...

Vicky said...

I'm going home to visit my parents for 4th of july weekend and the luckily have a grill so I will definitely be trying this recipe out! So excited!

Teresa said...

I love grilled mackerel. There is something about it that is so satisfying and simple. I think it really presents the beauty of the sea very well. Great post! Keep up the great work!

What a Dish! said...

How nice to find your blog! I am also an American in Portugal (but the Azores). Love reading your stuff. We've grilled small mackerels before; bigger ones would be better! For the 4th of July I'm making a Portuguese Pao de Lo covered with cream and strawberries/blueberries!

Rochelle Ramos said...

Thank you! I completely agree with you :)

Rochelle Ramos said...

Great! Let me know how you like it!

Rochelle Ramos said...

I love finding other Americans in Portugal. I hear it's absolutely gorgeous over there in the Azores!

I, too, like the bigger mackerels to the smaller ones. I love your idea of Pao de Lo with cream and berries, it sounds fantastic!

Spicie Foodie said...

Hi Rochelle,
Grilling really is just the best way to cook in the summer. Grilled fish is my favorite, even over a burger or steak. Mackerel is also very popular her but mostly find it smoked. Yours looks amazing!

What a Dish! said...

It is pretty gorgeous over here! Esp. lately, as we've had some sun.

a alecrim said...

adoro carapaus! são realmente uma especialidade prtugues!
Com um boa salada e no verão!