How I fell in love with Portugal’s garlicky clams – and recipe to make them


Kevin Gould

One food writer so loved the country’s famed shellfish he set up his own restaurant in the clam capital of the Algarve
• More travel-inspired recipes: France | Spain | Italy | Greece

I am sitting in a cafe with my back to the clatter and splash of the fish market. Before me – in blue-sky Panavision – the wide, heat-hazed, island-dotted Ria Formosa lagoon is in constant motion, a brilliant white sun glinting off its chuckling waters. On the sandy seabed revealed by the ebbing tide, stick figures are bent into upside down U shapes. They are digging for clams, for Olhão, on the Algarve, is Portugal’s clam capital.

I am eating my bodyweight in clams (amêijoas). I am in my element and up to my elbows in winey, briny, heavily garlicky clam juice. The dish is called amêijoas à Bulhão Pato – after 19th-century polymath, poet and gourmet António Raimundo de Bulhão Pato – and every simple cervejaria and taberna here serves it.

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