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Arroz de Lampreia.


Lamprey rice is a seasonal dish, prepared between January and April, roughly, and fits in those types of meals that are only suitable for more adventurous palates...

Lamprey, the ugly animal that causes love and hatred, comes up when the year begins, and there are those who go miles and miles to eat it...

A dish of passions...

The intense flavor and the look of comezaina, which combines a fish that does not even appear to have blood drawn from itself, end up making many people wrinkle their noses. And that proves when I know that the vast majority of people who say they don't like lamprey, never really tasted it - and I know this because I am careful to ask, but at least have you already tried it???...

Anyway, for this scribe, this is the eternal dish of the year. And it is the dish of the year because I eat it once every 365 days. And after finishing it, I already wait for the arrival of next spring, in order to have it once again.

The region I associate it most with is the Minho - which has its own way of cooking lamprey, lamprey in the style of Minho directly from the Minho River. Its relative, Douro Litoral, also adopts it as a regional dish. The Beiras ditto. But even in the southern provinces it is considered typical, namely in the villages near the Tagus. We can, in fact, and since we talked about Tagus, attribute lamprey rice as a traditional dish from the riverside areas, because it is there, in the rivers, that the lamprey will spawn, before dying. And as such, it is there that it is fished, as an adult.

Witnessing the proliferation of the dish across Portuguese territory are the countless festivals dedicated to it: in Penacova, Montemor-o-Velho, Entre-os-Rios, Mação, Gondomar, Murtosa, and many more…

And now the maximum question: how to do it???...

Lamprey Rice Recipe

First of all, putting patience as a premise. Then, each one will have their ways about preparing it...

Some say that to be perfect, the lamprey must be cleaned, using the blade, still alive. A preciousness that may be dispensable to very good people. It is important that it is rinsed with very hot water and that such cleaning of the river dumps is done, as well as removing the viscosity of the skin, as if we were scaling it, but not exactly, because the lamprey has no scales. When done, rinse it, now cold...

The bloody part follows: we put ripe red wine “Vinho Verde” (Green Red), in the northwest - and there are still those who dare white) in a bucket and, grabbing the lamprey head, we cut it a little along its body, starting at the head, and letting the blood drain into the bowl. Note that this first sip should be short and not too deep - just enough to let it bleed. Below, next to the navel, a new cut is made and the guts are removed carefully, because the taste of them will also serve to improve the taste - and also take advantage of the blood that flows from it.

To the broth of wine and blood, which is now accompanied by lamprey cut into slices, we can now add condiment: raw onion, garlic, bay leaves, parsley or peppers. And this part is closed. It is to let a few hours pass, or even a day, if you want to let it get serious... “Vinho de Alhos” (Bathed in wine & garlic)... As they say... “First in the water and then in Wine”...

Apart, a stew is made. A simple saute - the only novelty is that we must add slices of chorizo ​​to the formula. Now melt the lamprey marinated in blood to this stew and let the low heat do the rest of the work, until the lamprey is tender, and then remove the lamprey from there, keeping the rest of the broth at fire. From here, it is to add rice and water until the taste of this delicacy is refined. At the end, put the lamprey back. And it's done...

Depending on the Region, wether in the Minho, or in the Douro or even in Lisbon you are sure to find the perfect lunch or dinner companion on your table to savour this exquisite specialty...

I recommend an Alvarinho... “Reguengo de Melgaço” from the Minho or from the Douro a “Meandro”... Further South a “Quinta da Bacalhôa... Desfrutem... Bom apetite!!!

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