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Taste of Macau: Portuguese Cuisine on the China Coast

by: Annabel Jackson

New York NY: Hippocrene Books 2004, $18.95, Paperback
ISBN: 0-7818-1022-1

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2004 Issue: 11(3) page(s): 21 and 22

Fascinated with the cuisine of this once was a colony, Annabel (Doling) Jackson sets about writing about eating there. Long-time subscribers will recognize the author as Annabel Doling, and the fact that one of her earlier books, Macao on a Plate, was reviewed in this magazine's 1996 Volume 3 in Number 1, on page 17. This book, quite different from that earlier volume, is a culinary and cultural gem. It discusses history, take over by China in 1999, and its culture and people.

More than a cookbook, though it does have some sixty delicious recipes, this volume is a lavishly illustrated referenced understanding of a cuisine seemingly doomed to disappearance. The book includes a foreword by Antonio M. Jorge da Silva about the history of the peninsula of Macau. It was recognized, by the authorities of what is now known as Guangzhou, as a Portuguese settlement in 1557.

The book enlightens that Macau protrudes from the western banks of the Pearl River into the South China Sea, why the Portuguese were pushed back from more inland trading posts to A-Ma-Kong andtranslated from the Chinese as the Bay of the Ancestral Grandmother, then modified to Amacao and later Macau by those very Portuguese. It speaks about who the Portuguese could and could not marry. Intermarriage with Chinese early on was forbidden, goes on to later trade possibilities, the Macanese communities of Shanghai and Hong Kong; and why the Macanese left the colony just before and since Macau was returned to China.

Another foreword by Wilson Kwok discusses Annabel's pioneering revival of this unique early food marriage. The author defines the cuisine and tells about the most Cantonese recipe in the book, called: Tacho. She talks about locally used ingredients, some that were imported later, and she has many Macanese speak for themselves about their cultural heritage and culinary remembrances. These folk tell their tales, are shown by photograph, and later share their recipes and those of others who lived there. They also talk of the foods and restaurants there.

Vivienne's Shrimp Toast incorporates Madeira or sherry, King Prawns with Chilli and Garlic use paprika, Portuguese white wine, and a bit of butter, Pork with Lotus Root uses only Chinese ingredients and has almost all Asian influences, and Macanese Vegetarian Samosas are dumplings that marry the many influences in Macau, namely: Portuguese, Chinese, Malay, Goan, Malaccan, Japanese, and African. There are recipes for salt cod, those with olives and or olive oil, and some with saffron, cumin, and coriander. The Tacho or Winter Casserole is close to Portugal’s Cozido a Portuguesa in spirit, while using many Cantonese meats such as roast duck, Chinese sausages, pork chops, pig's trotters, and a pound of pig skin.

Every recipe has a few words up to many lines of explanation about its origin, adaptation, and/or its use. All cry out to be made, and now. They remind of foods had at the Posada’s and restaurants tried in Macau some years back. Would that we had kept note back then.

This book is treasure and a testament to ten years of research and caring about a cuisine. Thank you Annabel Doling Jackson. We and everyone are grateful for your capture of the foods of this first European colony in Asia. Some of the foods have tastes of and marriages with those of China. They are from a land now Chinese; and, they are part of their culinary heritage. Your book lets us know about, taste, and treasure them.
Macanese Vegetarian Samosas
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
2 fresh chilies, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
2 potatoes, finely diced
1/2 cup green peas
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons bread crumbs
20 spring roll wrappers
1 egg white
2 cups vegetable oil
1. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Stir in ginger and chilies and cook for two more minutes before adding carrots, potatoes, and peas.
2. Mix in coriander, curry, saffron, and salt and cook over very low heat for about an hour until all the vegetables are cooked and the mixture has lost its liquid.
3. Add lemon juice and breadcrumbs and set aside to cool.
4. Cut each spring roll in half, and then fold in any amount, if needed, so that there are strips about three by six inches.
5. Put heaping teaspoon filling at one end of a strip, fold it as triangle, as the American flag is folded, over and over until the mixture is enclosed and the final shape is a triangle. Repeat until all are folded, sealing the final edge with egg white.
6. Heat vegetable oil and deep fry the twenty somosas for about five minutes or until golden brown.

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