One of the greatest legacies the Portuguese left in the former colony of Macau was their cuisine. Portuguese sailors picked up spices from Africa and Latin America as they sailed east which their wives then blended with the local ingredients in attempt to recreate dishes from home. The delicious hybrid is now known as Macanese.
The first restaurant we tried was Alfonso III. The eponymous owner, Alfonso, is from a village in Portugal near Nazare, where I enjoyed some of the best clams of my life. We started with Alfonso’s clams appetizer and I knew we were in for a treat. The clams, steamed with garlic, white wine and cilantro, were so scrumptious we ordered more with the pork and potatoes entree. All this was washed down with glasses of Portuguese wine. It felt – and tasted – as though we’d been transported to the Iberian Peninsula!
For our second dinner in Macau, which happened to fall on Christmas Eve, we chose the restaurant Litoral based on rave online reviews. Litoral is owned by Macau native Manuela Ferreira and was a fabulous introduction to the unique flavors of Macanese cooking. We started with crunchy beef croquettes and a bottle of wine from Evora, another one of my favorite Portuguese towns. These were quickly followed by deliciously plump garlic shrimp.
I then put away a considerable amount of a classic Macanese dish called African chicken. The rich sauce, made from coconut, garlic, chilies and spices, was a surprisingly cohesive combination of flavors from around the world. Hubby was equally fond of his saffron pork with potatoes, a curry-like stew served with white rice. We ended the meal with heavenly coconut creme brulee and a glass of port. Then we waddled home.
Have you ever tasted Macanese food? What did you think?