Copper cataplanas in various sizes

The Cataplana Experience

Discover the history of the Cataplana

Cataplana copper pans are traditional cooking pans used in Southern Portugal for seafood and fish stews/dishes. They are usually made from aluminum steel and copper. They consist of two clam-shaped vessels hinged together with side clasps that are sealed shut whilst cooking takes place.

There is some debate about the origins or inventor of the Cataplana. We think the cataplana was invented by Armando Luz in 1927. He was a known Portuguese metal craftsman working with copper and stainless steel.

The Cataplana was introduced to Portugal by the Bedouin Moors during their occupation of the country in the 8th century. Portuguese fishermen would take their cataplanas on fishing trips with them. They would use them to cook their fresh catch right across Southern Portugal. Nowadays, Michelin star chefs around the world are using the cataplana in innovative recipes.

seafood cataplana with prawns and mussels

Menus typically refer to cataplanas and will generally serve the actual pan to the dining table, unlike the pressure cooker. Popular dishes include seafood cataplana and the traditional pork with fresh clams which is a traditional dish from the Alentejo region. 

Cataplanas are great for cooking steamed clams, fish, and chicken thighs. A cataplana can be used to make other international dishes including stir fry. Using a cataplana is quick and easy and most dishes only take up to 30 minutes. We like to combine our main ingredients with white wine, olive oil, and bay leaf. This help to seal moisture and flavours within the vessel right up to serving at the table.

How to look after your cataplana

Cataplanas are usually sold pre-varnished. This will mean that your cataplana is ready to use upon purchase. We recommend you wash your cataplana with warm soapy water before using it for the first time.

Treating your cataplana pan is easy. Over time, the copper pot and pans develop a rich patina. If you do not polish your cataplana regularly the metal can begin to look dull in colour.

To keep your cataplana shiny, combine a mix of lemon juice and salt in a small bowl. Using a clean cloth, apply the mixture to your cataplana pan and rub gently.

Copper pans on a shelf

Cataplana recipes

Cataplanas are becoming increasingly popular and there are lots of fantastic recipes and videos online. The cataplana is increasingly becoming popular as a practical cooking item for camping, backpacking, and outdoor enthusiasts

Here are some of my favourite recipe links for Cataplana dishes:

Perfect accompaniment to a Petisco dinner party. Find out more about Petisco, the art of making Portuguese tapas in our blog post on this subject.

Cataplana Sizes

Fun fact:

Did you know that the the largest cataplana is 4 metres in diameter and six feet tall and is located in Albufeira, Portugal. It took 500 kilos of copper to make the cataplana.

Where to buy a cataplana

Iberica sells copper hammered cataplanas in Australia in the following sizes:

  • 24cm
  • 27cm
  • 30cm
  • 33cm

Ultra generous portions are available with Gourmet size cataplanas from 45cm upwards are also available upon request. 

Check out our other blog subjects in our Pretty things from Portugal blog.

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