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Caneja d’Infundice

If we had to rate caneja d’infundice in a ranking of the world’s strangest meals, this traditional dish exclusive to Ericeira would surely occupy a leading position. 

This caneja fish (a member of the dogfish family) recipe is summed up well by the dictionary meaning of the Portuguese word infundice: “Lye in which very dirty clothes are soaked to make them easier to wash”. Of course, these words are not be interpreted literally, but it is that very distinctive ammoniac smell of the fish that has been wrapped in cloth, according to local sources, hung, kept in a dark place or even buried, for 7 to 15 days, which gives it exceptional characteristics when it is cooked.

According to aficionados, the intense aroma is compensated by the quality, texture and flavour of a snack that must be accompanied by red wine with every bite in order to keep up with tradition and aid in swallowing. The accompaniment is simple: a potato cooked in its skin, cut in half. Not giving up at the first attempt is a golden rule for those who try out this delicacy. In order to ensure the continuity of the tradition and to democratise access to this rare snack, the Confraria da Caneja d’Infundice, an association formed to promote this dish, was recently created in Ericeira.