Episode 5: Roasted Lamprey with ‘Carqueja’

Episode 5: Roasted Lamprey with ‘Carqueja’

The Lamprey

The lamprey is part of the Cyclostomata family, species that boast a circular, jawless mouth. They are spawned in rivers, where they remain for 4 or 5 years as larvae. When they become adult, they migrate to the sea, where they live at depths of between 200 and 500 metres until sexual maturity. When they grow to between 80 and 100 centimetres, and weigh around one kilo, they return to the river to spawn. It is an odd but much appreciated animal that lives off blood and has no scales. On the River Minho, many families that make their living from lamprey fishing – a seasonal pursuit that takes place from January to April.

Lamprey can be made in a wide variety of ways, ranging from our grandmothers’ favourite recipes to the latest culinary trends, where it can be found in rissoles and pies, even in sushi. It can be baked, served with rice, dried, boiled or made with an escabeche marinade. In Portugal, the most famous of all these dishes is lamprey à Bordalesa, a stew that originates from Bordeaux but was adapted in the Minho region, where Bordeaux wine was substituted with red vinho verde – which is why Chef Margarida Rego doesn’t agree with the name, believing that the minerals in lamprey are much better suited to Douro wine.

1 / 6
2 / 6
3 / 6
4 / 6
5 / 6
6 / 6


  • 1 lamprey from the Minho river, skinned, bled and washed
  • (reserve the blood for a different preparation)
  • 1 botle of Assobio Red
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion
  • 8 shallots or scallions
  • 24 small new potatoes, peeled.
  • 1 bunch of parsley and 1 bunch of carqueja (Baccharis trimera)
  • Olive oil


If it’s a female lamprey, we can remove the roes and two segments from the extremities, and, with the blood, prepare a rice as a side dish.

Season the lamprey with the wine, salt, freshly ground pepper, half the bunch of parsley, roughly chopped and 4 sliced garlic cloves.

Rub the lamprey thoroughly with the garlic and salt, and let it rest for at least two hours.
In a clay baking dish pour a drizzle of olive oil and add the onion, chopped into half rounds, two sliced garlic cloves and half the parsley. Upon this base, place the potatoes and the shallots. Add a drizzle of olive oil and half the marinade, and season with salt and pepper.

Add two thirds of the carqueja over the potatoes and cook on the stove until the potatoes start becoming translucent.

Shake the baking dish, and place it in the oven (preferably a wood-fired oven) at medium heat for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden.

Place the lamprey over the carqueja and cover it with the remaining herb. Add a drizzle of olive oil and place it back in the oven, on high heat. Every 10 minutes, brush with the remaining marinade.

Recipe inspired on the teachings of BALBINA MESTRE

Olive Oil: Cordovil

Wine: Assobio Red

Download the recipe here.