Forget your go-to summer order of an Aperol spritz or a glass of Rosé. This season the only drink to be seen sipping on is white Port and tonic. Part of the trend for all things Portuguese London’s bars and restaurants have realised that not only is every Brit obsessed with Lisbon’s Instabait tiles and custard tarts but the Portuguese signature drink also rates pretty high on their list of ‘Things We Wish We Had Back Home’ too. Cue a string of venues serving up the refreshing fizz. For an authentic hit head to Bar Douro in Flat Iron Square whose founder Max hails from the Churchill port family. Here they mix equal measures of white port with Fever Tree tonic before garnishing with mint and orange peel. You’ll also find it at Soho’s Smoking Goat and 8 Hoxton Square while at Llewelyn’s in Herne Hill and Morito they serve it alongside salted almonds to really whet your appetite.
However, with only two ingredients it’s also super easy to mix up yourself at home. Head to A Portguese Love Affair on London’s Columbia Road to pick up your own bottle of authentic port and gorgeous tiled coasters. Food writer Rebecca Seal whose latest book focuses on recipes from Lisbon says: ‘I’ve yet to introduce someone to the joys of white port and tonic and not turn them into a convert.’ Here she explains how to make it plus shares her recipe for salt cod croquettes which are perfect for serving alongside them (and stop you feeling too tipsy!)
White Port & Tonic
‘White port is lesser known than richer, sweet red port, but it can be found in most supermarkets and good wine stores. It has a fresh, summery grape flavour which sits perfectly with tonic’s slight bitterness. Together they make a long, refreshing aperitif, which, happily, is lower in alcohol than something like gin and tonic.’
35 ml (1 fl oz/2 generous tablespoons) white port
strip of unwaxed lemon zest
strip of unwaxed orange zest
tonic water, to top
Fill a large wine glass with ice. Pour in the white port and add the lemon and orange zest. Top with tonic water and gently mix.
Pasteis De Bacalhau AKA Salt Cod Croquettes With Piri Piro Mayonaise
Makes 14 croquettes
‘These little salt cod and potato croquettes are irresistible, and quintessentially Portuguese. When working in Lisbon, it was very hard to ignore the siren call of the restaurant on the corner of my road, where you could get a bag of these croquettes, crisp from the fryer, for just a couple of Euros. We would eat them on our balcony, in the fading evening light, with a cold glass of local vinho verde. You can freeze them once they are cooked. Defrost for 30 minutes, then bake on a baking tray at 200°C (400°F/Gas 6) for 10–12 minutes, until crispy on the outside and piping hot all the way through.’
250 g (9 oz) salt cod
400 g (14 oz) floury white potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
flavourless oil, for cooking
1 tablespoon plain (all-purpose) flour (optional)
1 tablespoon Piri Piri Sauce (shop-bought or see recipe on page 171)
plus 5 tablespoons mayonnaise, to serve
lemon wedges, to serve
Roughly 24 hours before you want to start cooking, begin to desalinate the salt cod: rinse it under fresh running water to remove any salt crystals on its exterior, then place in a large bowl of cold water, cover and leave in the fridge.
Change the water every few hours. It should be ready after about 24 hours – some cod is ready in just 8–12 hours, depending on its cure. To check whether it is ready, place a piece in a pan and cook it with a little water for a minute or two,then taste. It may be slightly salty, but shouldn’t be overwhelming.
When ready to cook, place the cod in a pan, cover with fresh water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the water and leave it to cool slightly. Once it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin, along with any bones or fins, then flake the flesh.
Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for 10 minutes, or until tender to the point of a knife. Drain and mash straight away.
Place the cooked salt cod, the mashed potatoes, diced onion and crushed garlic in the bowl of a food processor and blitz briefly, just enough to combine.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the beaten eggs and parsley.
Place a large deep pan over a high heat and fill it with about 6 cm (2½ in) of oil. Heat the oil until it reaches 175ºC (345ºF) on a pan thermometer, or if you don’t have one, use the bread test: once the oil is shimmering, drop in a cube of day-old bread. If the bread fizzes and browns in no less than 30 seconds, the oilis ready. (If it burns in that time, turn the heat down.)
Drop a small nugget of the batter into the hot oil and cook for a minute or so.
Remove, cool, then taste to check the seasoning – the batter may need a little more salt. Also, if the croquette mixture is too loose, and the nugget doesn’t hold firm in the oil (or is less uniform in shape than you’d like), stir the tablespoon of flour into the batter to thicken it.
When ready to cook, use 2 spoons to shape the mixture into quenelles: take a scoop of the mixture with one spoon, then, with the other spoon in your other hand, gently turn the mixture between the 2 spoons, shaping it into an ovoid.
Carefully lower 3 fritters into the oil and cook for 2½–3 minutes, until deep golden brown on the outside. (Don’t cook any more than 3 at a time, as this will crowd the pan and lower the temperature of the oil.)
Drain the cooked croquettes on paper towel while you cook the rest.
To serve, stir the piri piri sauce into the mayonnaise and serve it alongside the warm croquettes, with plenty of lemon wedges, too.