Seafood in Portugal

Last Updated on 11 June 2024 by Adrienne

I’ve created this page as a personal record of the various types of seafood I encounter in Portugal. It will be regularly updated as I explore and cook with different varieties of seafood.

If you are learning Portuguese, also check out this link.

Polvo vs Choco vs Lula vs Pota

In Portugal, “polvo” refers to octopus, “lula” refers to squid, “choco” refers to cuttlefish, and “pota” refers to another type of squid.

Polvo, Lula and Choco in Nazaré market

Here are some key differences between them:

Polvo (Octopus):

  • Octopus has a distinct rounded head, eight long arms, and a mantle.
  • It has a firm texture and a slightly sweet flavor when cooked properly.
  • It’s often prepared by boiling or grilling and is a popular ingredient in various Portuguese dishes like “polvo à lagareiro” (oven-baked octopus with potatoes and olive oil) or “polvo guisado” (stewed octopus).
  • Afrikaans: seekat

Lula (Squid):

  • Squid have elongated bodies with a distinct head, mantle, and eight arms equipped with suction cups.
  • They have a tender texture and a mild, slightly sweet flavor.
  • Squid can be prepared in various ways, including grilling, frying, or stewing. In Portuguese cuisine, they’re commonly enjoyed fried as “lulas à doré” or in seafood stews like “caldeirada de lulas.”
  • Afrikaans: inkvis

Choco (Cuttlefish):

  • Cuttlefish have a broader body with a large head, eight arms, and two tentacles with suckers.
  • They have a firmer texture compared to squid and octopus and a more pronounced flavor.
  • Cuttlefish are often used in soups, stews, or rice dishes like “arroz de choco” (cuttlefish rice) or “choco frito” (fried cuttlefish).
  • Afrikaans: tjokka / kalamari

Pota (European flying squid):

  • In Portugal, “pota” typically refers to a smaller species of squid known as European flying squid or Todarodes sagittatus. It’s commonly used in Portuguese cuisine and can be prepared in various dishes such as grilled, fried, or stewed.
  • This type of squid is smaller in size compared to the Humboldt squid and is often used in traditional Portuguese recipes like “Lulas à Algarvia” (Algarve-style squid) or “Lulas recheadas” (stuffed squid).
  • “Pota” can also refer to the Humboldt squid, also known as jumbo / giant squid or jumbo flying squid, particularly in regions like Peru and Chile. This species is known for its large size and predatory nature, inhabiting the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Pota frying in the pan
Pota with a creamy garlic and white wine pasta