Home Macau Macau Cuisine - Symbol of the cultural identity of Macau

Macau Cuisine - Symbol of the cultural identity of Macau

Macau cuisine is truly a real “fusion” between Eastern and Western culinary traditions that has evolved over time during the 442 years that Macau was controlled by the Portuguese, explains Jorge Smith, Head Waiter at the Oriental Mandarin Hotel which boasts one of the finest and best-known restaurants in Macau. Jorge Smith himself has a similar background himself. Born in the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique, he also has Chinese ancestry.

Macau cuisine – Unique Macau dishes

macau cuisineOne of the typical macau dishes consists of chicken marinated with coconut and saffron. Another is the egg cake of Portuguese origin and a very popular dessert in Macau where it is known as “nata”. Not to be mistaken with the similar Portuguese “nata”, the Macau version  is lighter and less sweet, adapted to better suit the local taste, explains Jorge Smith. Portuguese cuisine that was brought to Macau, experts say, has remained authentic with few changes, including one of its most famous dishes: “Caldo Verde”, a thick vegetable broth with olive oil. The Portuguese and Chinese both share a taste for seafood, which has led to many Macau dishes based on shrimp or fish, suggests Jose Manuel, the owner of one of the most famous restaurants in Macau, “chez Fernando”. Another example of these cross-cultural influences is that of shrimp paste that was introduced to Chinese cuisine through Macau, as it is stated on a plaque of the Museum of Macau, which explains a large part of the shared Chinese and Portuguese culture through their common ingredients with Macau dishes.

Will this culinary heritage survive the retrocession of Macau to China?

“If the Portuguese and Macanese remain, so will the Macau cuisine, but the day the Chinese takeover in the kitchens, then it will change, but that is evolution for you”, states Afonso Carrao Pereira, owner of another famous restaurant in Macau. Portuguese cuisine, blending with various Chinese, Indian, and even Malaysian influences gave birth to a whole new culinary tradition: Macau cuisine. Many restaurants offer the famous “galinha africana picante” (African style chicken) in its excellent garlic sauce, with coconut, peanut, tomato and peppers. The more conventional “Caldo Verde” (vegetable soup) quoted above, the ever delicious “peixe assado has portuguesa” (Portuguese fish), “assadas sardinhas” (grilled sardines) or even the delicious pombo assado (roast pigeon).

Of course, Chinese cuisine is also readily available, as Macau never really ceased to be Chinese despite the Portuguese presence. A true melting pot, in every sense of the term!