Mix Chinese flavours with ingredients from Portugal and spices from its colonies across three continents and you have a unique cuisine that dates back 450 years
Macau attracts some 30 million visitors a year, drawn by its pastel baroque churches, ancient Chinese temples and (mostly) vast casinos that dwarf even Las Vegas’s. But Macau can also claim to be home to one of the world’s first fusion cuisines, with Macanese cooking dating back 450 years. It’s a blend of Cantonese flavours mixed with ingredients like olives and chorizo from Portugal, which ruled here from the 1550s until 1997, and exotic tastes and spices such as coconut milk, cloves, turmeric, cinnamon and fiery piri piri from around Portugal’s empire – Mozambique, Brazil, Goa, Malaysia.
The result is striking dishes like the Macanese take on Brazilian feijoada, using wind-dried Chinese sausage and black pudding, with kidney beans replacing black beans. Macanese tamarind pork is succulent ribs braised with aromatic balichao shrimp paste. Even the local version of fried rice is transformed by adding diced raw green peppers and black olives.