Cataplana refers to Ireland's warm spicy fish and sausage stew that is ideal for cold winter evenings. Moreover, Cataplana is a Portuguese seafood dish, popular on the country's Algarve coast. It is also the name of the special cookware used to prepare the dish, which is traditionally made of copper and shaped like two clamshells hinged at one end and able to be sealed using a clamp on either side of the assembly. The cataplana is a wok-shape hammered copper pan with a hinged domed lid. It was introduced to the southern Portugal region during the Moorish occupation in the 8th century AD. The Cataplana is meant to be a steaming pan and is much suited for the many shellfish such as Ameijoas and Conquilbas that are available along the southern coastal region of Portugal. The ingredients are placed in the bottom half of the dish and the hinged lid is then closed, enabling the food to simmer together and the flavors developed during cooking. These days the pan has a much wider usage. Much like the word Tagine, Cataplana is the name for both the recipe and utensil in which you cook it. Cataplanas are a feature of many Algarve kitchen and are often used as a centrepiece dish at social gatherings.

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