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Perhaps one of the most popular Portugese dish is Cataplana. Its a melody of different seafood with a rich delicious broth. The most traditional and best way to make Cataplana is with a Cataplana Pan. Its a clam shell like pan that is designed to seal in all the juices. However, since this is a pretty niche cookware, choices for a Cataplana Pan is pretty limited. Thankfully those that are available are considered to be the Best Cataplana Pan on the market.
What is a Cataplana Pan?
Cataplana Pan are special clam shell pan designed to make Cataplana. Traditional model uses copper for its superior heat conductivity. Artisan will hammer it to improve its structural integrity and add beauty. On the sides, there are latches that seal in juices and prevent steam from escaping. When you are done cooking, you can bring that same pot to the table for serving.
How to Use?
Using it is pretty simple. Put it over a open flame with some olive oil and garlic. Starting loading the aromatics and shell fish. Its recommended that clams be loaded first as it has the longest cooking time. As it gently cooking, begin loading the other sea food and broth. Close the other half and latch it on. After a few minutes, the dish should be fully cooked.
Another way of using it is by loading all the ingredients then shutting it. You will bring it to a simmer and let it steam in its own juices. Either method works.
Where to Buy a Cataplana Pan?
These pans are a pretty niche pan. There arent much variety available but they’re all pretty well made. For the Best Option, visit portugal, for everyone else, amazon will carry them. William Sonoma will have some as well.
A note about Copper?
Most people are inexperienced with using copper cookware. As a result, most dont know about the quirks that they have. For starter, the mirror polish of copper cookware simply do not last. Once you use them, they darken and gain patina. you can try to bring it back, but it will never be the same as new.
Another thing to note about tin lining. It wears with use. Eventually, you will need to get it replaced. A easy way to extend the life is by not using metal utensils. When cleaning, I recommend the soft side of the sponge.
Best Cataplana Pan List
The Best Cataplana Pan uses a copper construction with latches that hold in juices. You might be able to find models that are used in stainless steel but those are pretty rare.
Made in Portugal Traditional Copper Cataplana
This generic model is a great option for a Cataplana pan. Its lined in tin so it wont be reactive. The latches make a good seal so that steam wont come out. The best thing about this pan is that its hand made in Portugal. There are a few sizes available, the most versatile are the 13 inch one. Its big enough to serve a small family. But the smaller size one is also good for single serving.
For a traditional Cataplana dish, use a Cataplana Pan. It seals in the juice and reduce the usage of oil. The Best option are the copper model made in Portugal. They provide a good seal without letting steam escape. You might be able to find stainless steel options, but those are pretty rare.
Looking for more seafood utensils, check out our article on the Best Seafood and Craw fish Boiler.