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
HAVE A NICE EASTER!