Piri Piri Starfish by Tessa Kiros

Inviting recipes Could Portugal be the new Spain? Reading Tessa Kiros’ Piri Piri Starfish and its references to petisco (tapas, Portuguese-style), chourico (substitute chorizo), port instead of sherry and salt cod (in Portugal – bacalhau, in Spain – bacalao) you could be forgiven for wondering if things are moving that direction. This, the follow up to Kiros’ acclaimed parent-and-child-orientated Apples for Jam, is a more straightforward cookbook. As with Apples…, colour is very important, although the chapters are laid out in a more clear-cut way – Essential Recipes, Petisco Plates, Starters and Soups, Mains and Side Plates, Deserts and Cakes – than that book’s rainbow bright colour-coded sections. Here the tone is more grown up, with lots of muted blues and greys, beautifully designed page titles and a thick white and blue ribbon for marking your way through the book.

For Piri Piri…, Kiros and her family lived in and travelled around Portugal and the book is written in the form of a travel diary, entries dated as she writes of her impressions of that country – the place and the people – as well as about the food that she encounters there: Maria Alice’s Chorico Cake from Chaves in the North of Portugal; a one-pot recipe for Caldeirada a Portuguesa (Portuguese Fish Stew) from Albertina in Lisbon; Passionfruit Crème Caramel inspired by the dishes eaten in San Miguel in the Azores. Photographs of food sit alongside tourist-style images of children playing on the streets, a Portuguese girl looking down from her washing-laden window, men’s hats in a shop window.

The recipes are typically Kiros, typically inviting – my list of things to try includes Peas with Eggs and Chorico, Caramel Cake, Roasted New Potatoes with Tomatoes and Red Wine and Pan Fried Fish with Vinegar. Green Peppers, port, piri piri peppers and salt cod are reoccurring ingredients – some of them a little difficult to source from North Cork but I’ll know what to go looking for when – rather than if – I visit Portugal.

Also reviewed on Bibliocook: Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros
An interview with Tessa Kiros on Who Wants Seconds?



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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2 Responses

  1. Eduardo says:

    I’m Portuguese, and I would like to congratulate Kiros for the authentic Portuguese dishes in her Piri piri Starfish book. Even thou there’s more to find about Portugal culinary gems, I can tell you that Kiros was faithful to the Portuguese tradition. It’s not a ‘sort of ‘ Portuguese food, it really is Portuguese food.

    Also, anyone that compares Portuguese food to Spanish food, they seriously do not know what they are talking about.

    Chorico may be similar to Chorizo but it’s not the same.

    And when it comes to Bacalhau, I doubt the Spaniards know much about the fish as we Portuguese do. It’s a staple food in Portugal.

    • Caroline Caroline says:

      Thank you, Eduardo. It’s great to hear that the book is so authentic. It’s one of my regularly used ones – I still love that recipe for Caramel Cake.

      At the time I wrote that review, Spain was all over the place as the biggest thing in food. I wondered was the focus going to move on to Portugal but that does not seem to have happened as we’re all orientated in a more Nordic direction at the moment.

      As that move hasn’t happened, there’s – as yet – no availability of chorico in Ireland so I still have to make Peas with Eggs and Chorizo!

      Sometime I hope to visit Portugal and taste these foods in situ.

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