Londoners, here’s a chance to Taste Macau. We get to experience this unique centuries old fusion cuisine at A Wong where Macanese Foopd Ambassador Florita Alves has collaboration with Andrew Wong to create an 8 course tasting menu.
The Macau Tourism Board held a lunch to preview this menu recently. At A Wong, the main dining room is packed and oddly, I catch a few odd snatches of Cantonese conversations. It appears that among the guests at this lunch to launch the Macanese menu are some transplanted Macanese and representatives of the Macau community. For a moment there, I thought I was back in Hong Kong.
When I lived in Hong Kong, I used to visit Macau just to play golf. I don’t remember ever having a typical Macanese meal when I visited Macau. This would be a new experience for me.
About Macanese cuisine
Macanese food a true fusion cuisine, a result of the Portuguese explorers making strategic trading ports en route from Europe in Goa, Melaka and Macau during the spice trade. Macau was a Portuguese colony for several centuries and was one of the last remaining ones until their handover back to China on 20 December 1999. The first Macanese woman was a Malaysian woman from Melaka. The influences can be seen in some of these dishes on the lunch menu. There is still a strong Portuguese slant to some of the dishes and the liberal use of olive oil for cooking.
Macau does not have a large population but their community keeps their old cultures and traditions alive with many festivals. A lot of the locals left prior to the handover back to China but like Hong Kong, many have returned. Macanese cooking is kept alive by grandmas and mothers cooking with their daughters for these events. Recipes are still passed down by word of mouth through the generations.
The 8 course tasting menu was designed to showcase dishes which epitomise Macau and is served tapas style. The highlight of the lunch menu at A Wong was the African Chicken dish, a richly flavoured succulent chicken. It is usually marinaded in the spicy sauce for over 24 hours before being cooked.
The Bacalha married a Potruguese ingredient with Chinese Dim Sum techniques, resulting in a very tasty dumpling. Gambas a Macau, smothered in garlic was an easy winner.
Loved the pudding of the Pasteis des nata wiht flaky pastry and the coffee jelly with coconut pudding was a great combination.
Malaysian Influences in Macanese cuisine
On chatting to Florita, I found out that there is a lot Malaysian influence Macau cuisine. Of all the dishes on the menu, the one that most Macanese would identify with and is most representative of the Macanese cuisine is the Minchi, a minced beef dish. Every family has their own recipe for this but Florita gave me her recipe which I will reproduce on this blog soon. This is normally served with rice as a typical home cooking dish but here it was served with some cubed fried potatoes. There is a very similar dish in Malay cuisine too.
Another example of Malaysian influence is the use of an ingredient called Balichao which used to made with tiny silver shrimps, a flavouring in many of their dishes. Florita sometimes enhances this with a splash of Portugese brandy. Balichao is not unlike the Malaysian Belacan (fermented shrump paste). The Macau version is less pungent. A balichao sauce is served alongside a Portugese meat stew called Tachuchauchau, not dissimilar to our Nyonya Tau Eu Bak (stewed pork belly) and sambal belacan.
There is a soupy noodle dish called Lakasa with shrimps and vermicelli which they have during Christmas. We have Laksa a spicy noodle soup. Their famous African Chicken is usually served with a sambal sauce which is very similar to our Malaysian condiment.
Am fascinated by this cuisine as the melding of the many different food influences has created a food culture that has evolved through the centuries. This has reminded me to investigate our own Malaysian Portuguese fusion cuisine (Kristang) in Melaka on my next trip there.
If you like to explore different cuisines, don’t miss this Macanese Food event. The 8 course Macanese tasting menu will be available from the 17th – 29th November at A Wong.
70 Wilton Rd,
London SW1V 1DE
020 7828 8931
For more information on Macau visit: www.macautourism.gov.mo
EatCookExplore was a guest of the Macau Government Tourist Office.