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Sunday, March 29, 2015

FIOS DE OVOS – Angel Hair

Since next weekend is Easter, thought it would be a good time to give you a typical Portuguese sweet recipe again. Yes, one of those I have posted before, not for diabetics or people with heart conditions.
Today it will be talking about something called “fios de ovos” (egg threads, translated directly or in English “angel hair”)
There is little known about the origins of this sweet dish, but the few things I could find are that “fios de ovos” belong to the convent sweets recipes (talked about those in a previous post) and most likely they have been made since the 14th to 15th century in Portugal.
The two major factors for this to happen, as said before: the monopoly of sugar given to Portuguese convents and monasteries and the use of big amounts of eggs to produce sacramental bread (thin wafers) and clothing starch. Although this last one is criticized by some historians who say that there wasn't enough clerical clothing to starch to have such a big left over of egg yolks.
Even so, the fact is that most convent sweets were made with eggs, specially egg yolks, and sugar and one of them is angel hair.
Fios de ovos”, as a side dish or to decorate other sweets (and sometimes even eaten with savory delicacies such as the Iberian ham), were then taken to the Far East in the 16th and 17th centuries, like Japan, where they then became a traditional thing of it's own, called wagashi. Here's a link to how they present it:

The Portuguese angel hair is also called “ovos reais” (royal eggs, don't laugh) or “palha de Abrantes” (Abrantes' hey), terminology found in many old recipe books. And in the old days, before modern strainers and funnels, the egg mixture would be run through pierced egg shells.
And here is how you make “fios de ovos”:


16 egg yolks
500g of sugar
300ml of water

Run the egg yolks through a fine sieve. Boil the water with the sugar in a large pot until the mixture forms soft “pearls” when falling of the spoon. Keep it on medium heat and run the egg yolk through a Chinese colander into the hot sweetened water, making large circles. The faster you make the circles the thinner the egg threads become. Let the egg mixture cook for a few seconds and remove the threads with a skimmer. Be careful not to over cook it, since they'll taste bad. Keep adding table spoons of water to avoid the water mixture to caramelize.

And here are some of the varieties you can find made with angel hair in Portugal.

 "Canudos de ovos" (egg pipes). Image taken from culinariaanacondinho.blogspot.com

 "Lampreia de ovos" (egg lamprey), Image taken from www.docesregionais.com

 "Pão-de-Ló" (Portuguese sponge cake; recipe in a prevoious post) with egg threads. Image taken from infusaodesabores.blogs.sapo.pt
 "Trouxas de ovos" (egg bundle). A flat variant of the same egg mixture to make angel hair. Image taken from



carojon said...

Very nice Sara, but I am more into savoury than sweet. When you get a minute, I would love to see a proper Portuguese Piri Piri Chicken recipe. Unfortunately here in the UK we only have the stuff served in Nando's.

I have never tasted anything as good as the chicken bought from a vendor, on the side of a road near Torres Vedras, cooking the chicken in an old lorry container using cut down oil drums holding the hot coals for the grill and painting the piri piri sauce on with a paint brush. The locals were queuing up to be served and the flavour was amazing, but sadly nothing like it over here. I guess I need another holiday looking at Napoleonic battlefields in Portugal.


Sara Seydak said...

Hi Jonathan,
To do the piri-piri sauce you just need some dried piri-piri chillies and some cooking oil. Mix it all together in a jar or small bottle and leave it for a couple of months.
If you come to Almeida, Portugal, at the last weekend of August you can not only see the re-enactment of the siege of the town of Almeida (this year some British units will be there)but also buy some dried piri-piri at the local market, open every Sunday morning. :)

carojon said...

Thanks Sarah, great food, a re-enactment and my birthday, 31st August, in Portugal. Sounds like a plan!

Sara Seydak said...

The website of the town hall of Almeida:

The page with hotel info (invites to the event have been sent already, so plan soon):