Marcel Proust immortalized the madeleines in his writing. But the French did not change the name of these little cakes to prousteleines or madeleines à la Proust. When Bulhão Pato, a 19th century writer, waxed poetically about a clam dish, the Portuguese named the recipe after him. Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato (clams Bulhão Pato) has become the classic Portuguese clam recipe.
It is easy to prepare: combine olive oil and garlic in a pot; add the clams. Once the clams open, add some chopped coriander and a few squirts of lemon juice.
The recipe is designed to showcase the splendor of the Portuguese clams. You’ll be disappointed if you use this recipe with lesser clams. Order clams Bulhão Pato at a beach-side restaurant and you’ll understand why Bulhão Pato considered them pure poetry.
We know nothing about the biology of the lingueirão (Portuguese razor clam). All we know is that, when steamed, it releases the scent of the ocean and we feel we are on the high seas. Use the cooking water to make lingeirão rice and the result is a dish with complex flavor. Guests will think you have been cooking for hours, reducing sauces, combining delicate infusions. And all you did was take advantage of the amazing biology of the lingueirão.
You eat these pre-historic looking crustaceans by twisting off their heads and exposing their meat. They taste and smell like the sea and they are great with beer.
The English name for percebes, “gooseneck barnacles,” comes from the medieval theory that they are embryonic barnacle geese. This theory conveniently explained why flocks of geese would suddenly appear out of nowhere (the fact that birds migrate was not known in the Middle Ages).
In any case, do not worry. There are no recent reports of percebes flying off the plate to migrate south.
Put yourself in the shells of the “berbigão.” You are constantly outshined by your cousins the clams. Clams star in famous Portuguese dishes such as “carne the porco à Alentejana” (pork with clams). Berbigão gets roles in minor culinary productions such as “arroz de berbigão,” a rice used to accompany other dishes. But forget what the critics say. Cook berbigão with a little olive oil and garlic and you will feel its star power.