MACANESE CUISINE – A CULINARY JOURNEY ACROSS GENERATIONS (with a recipe)
By Rupali Dean
A combination cuisine was shaped in the 16th Century in Macao. It was a blend of Portuguese and Chinese with a suggestion of Indian, Malay and Brazilian.
Being one of the ports of the Lusophone world (Portuguese-speaking African countries), Macao has captivated people from not only Portugal, but also previous colonies of the Portuguese realm and hence one of the most exceptional cuisines in the world was born: Macanese. Culinary practices comprise baking, grilling and roasting and the cuisine is well-known for its flavour-blending culture. Contemporary Macanese cuisine, which is created by the Portuguese and cooked by the Chinese, is culinary synthesis at its best.
FASCINATING MACANESE DISHES
A dish called ‘African Chicken’ is a popular dish in Macao that originated from the Portuguese colonies in Africa. The bird is marinated in chillies, onions and garlic, then doused in a lemony, buttery coconut sauce, and grilled to crunchy perfection. However, every cook has his own style of this invigorating dish.
Egg tarts exist in both Cantonese and in Portuguese cuisine, so it’s no surprise that you find it in Macao as well. I would say they are Portugal’s treacliest contribution. It’s a cheerful yellow custard delicacy recognised for its crumbly butter puff pastry and crème brûlée-like filling and is unquestionably unlike the kind you would discover in neighbouring Hong Kong. Another taste-provoking dish is the pork chop (bone included) bun (quite like a baguette); a humble but uniquely Macanese snack. Among the signature dishes one can find items like Chourico assado (char-grilled Portuguese chorizo), which has a bit of Goan inspiration as well.
COMMON INGREDIENTS FOUND IN CHINESE AND PORTUGUESE CUISINE
Characteristically, Macanese food is flavoured with numerous spices like turmeric, coconut milk, cinnamon and bacalhau (fresh cod), giving distinct fragrances and tastes. Saffron when mentioned in Macanese recipes, virtually always means turmeric. It features in ‘Bafassa’ (gastronomic style) recipes with pork and chicken or else fish and seafood in curries. Agar Agar, a species of sea weed, is used as gelatine in most desserts. The Macanese love their almonds, which are even used to season some dishes like Moorish rice. Almond tea and almond cookies are tremendously popular as well. Tamarind is typically used as a pickle. Garlic chives and leeks are as prevalent as are garlic cloves. Myth has it that the Buddhist monks were prohibited to eat garlic as it is supposed to be an aphrodisiac!
A RECIPE BY CHEF ANTONIO COELHO
Chef Antonio is a celebrity chef devoted to the advancement of Portuguese cuisine in Asia. His gastronomic style has progressed over extensive experience at top hotels and restaurants across the globe, including his homeland of Portugal as well as Africa, Hong Kong and Macao. He is a Master Chef of the Chaine des Rotissuer and affiliate of the Portuguese Managers’ Connotation in Macao.
CHOURICO ASSADO RECIPE
2 Chourico (pork sausage)
1 Clay Dish
- Pour some rubbing alcohol into the dish, just enough to cover the bottom.
- Light it and then using tongs or a long fork, place the chourico on the grill. Let it sit for a minute or two and then turn it over. Keep turning until it appears nice and dark.
- The flame will go out on its own, but if it does go out before the chourico is done grilling, simply add a little bit more alcohol to the bottom of the dish and light again.