Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mincing in Macau

Like Hong Kong, Macau is a special administrative region of China. I found out today that unlike Hong Kong, it is not well known. (When I told my mom I cooked Macanese food, she asked where in the world Macau is.) Maybe this has something to do with the fact that Macau was historically a Portuguese colony while Hong Kong was under the British Empire. As Americans I have found that we tend to know more about places that speak our own language, but that's just my theory. Anyway, Macau fully transferred from Portuguese to Chinese control in 1999 after 400 years of Portuguese settlement. Macau was granted a high degree of autonomy for 50 years after the transfer. Because of this autonomy, I saw Macau as a fit candidate to be one of the countries I cooked. After all, the culture is a lot different from mainland China's because of all the Portuguese influence and they have "full autonomy and self-governance in domestic affairs, economic policy and internal security"(Wikipedia). They are even exempt from China's socialist system and elect their own Chief Executive. Their currency is called the pataca. Another cool fact about Macau is that it is the most densely populated region in the entire world. The 11.6 square miles that make up Macau contain 640,000 people. That's over 55,000 people per square mile! Macau's population has soared in the past years as a result of immigration from mainland China. Ironically Macau has one of the lowest birthrates in the world Only 42.5% of the residents of Macau were actually born in Macau.

The cuisine of Macau is a blend of Cantonese and Portuguese cooking traditions. The Portuguese brought ingredients from their colonies in Africa and Southeast Asia like coconut milk, curry, and spices that were integrated into Chinese cooking methods. Famous dishes are the egg tart, Portuguese chicken, African chicken, minchee, pork buns, and caldo verde. I chose to make the popular minchee dish because it was unique and totally Macanese. The word "minchee" is probably a derivative from the English word "mince" because the meat in the dish is all minced up.

serves 3-4
1 pound ground beef, ground pork, or a mixture of the two
1 bay leaf
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp oil
1 large potato, peeled and diced
3 tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
3-4 eggs

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the potatoes and cook until browned all over, flipping once the bottoms are browned. Meanwhile heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan with a lid over medium heat. Add the bay leaf, onion, and garlic and cook until the onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Mix in the ground meat, chopping to separate it all up. Once there are no big chunks of meat, pour in the soy sauce and cover with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, increase the heat to high and cook, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporate. At the last minute, stir in the potatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Fry the eggs one at a time, adding another teaspoon of oil each time. Cook until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny. Serve the minchee over rice and topped with the fried eggs.

What can I say? Macau was a pleasantly delicious experience and made for a delicious lunch. It was a bit greasy, though, so I definitely advise serving it alongside some rice to help with digesting. Fried potatoes with ground beef/pork and a fried egg is definitely not a meal I would want to have every day for my arteries' sake, but it sure was delicious. Two thumbs up for Macau and minchee!

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