Macanese “African Chicken” – also known as 椰汁非洲雞配焗薯及雜菜沙律 – is pretty much the national dish of Macau, a small island near Hong Kong.
A former Portuguese colony, Macau was administered by Portugal from the mid-16th century until late 1999, when it was the last remaining European colony in Asia.
Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 1550s. In 1557, Macau was rented to Portugal by the Ming Dynasty as a trading port. The Portuguese administered the city under Chinese authority and sovereignty until 1887, when Macau became a colony of the Portuguese Empire. Sovereignty over Macau was transferred back to China on December 20, 1999.
Local cooking in Macau consists of a unique blend of Cantonese and Portuguese cuisines. Many unique dishes resulted from the spice blends that the wives of Portuguese sailors used in an attempt to replicate European dishes. Its ingredients and seasonings include those from Europe, South America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, as well as local Chinese ingredients
I was fortunate to have visited Macau back in 1995 with legendary chef Martin Yan, where I first tasted this unusual dish. Hooked for life, I now share this canonical recipe with you, straight from Henri’s Galley, the legendary restaurant that first created the recipe!
I found this particular recipe in the superlative eGullet forums, created by my friend Jason Perlow. Well worth exploring and participating in, it’s a treasure trove of culinary wonders!
BTW, this dish is considered “African” due to its reliance on peanuts, a staple of many African recipes.
Battle on in 2015 – The Generalissimo
A 3 -3½ lb. Chicken, halved, quartered or cut into pieces.
Marinade for Chicken
1 teaspoon minced dried hot chile pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 teaspoon crumpled dried rosemary
Salt & Pepper to taste.
1 cup minced shallot
½ cup minced garlic
1 ½ cups minced red bell pepper
½ cup corn oil
½ cup sweet paprika
1 cup grated coconut
½ cup natural style peanut butter
1 ½ cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves (dry)
3 tablespoons corn oil
To prepare the chicken if not using pieces, remove the vertebrate by cutting along either side with kitchen shears. Break the breast bone if necessary so the chicken can lay flat.
Mix all ingredients for the marinade together.
Rub the chicken with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In a sauce pan cook the shallots, garlic and bell pepper in oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the bell peppers are softened. Stir in the paprika, coconut, peanut butter, bay leaves and the chicken broth.
Bring the mixture to a boil, simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes and then discard the bay leaves.
In a large skillet heat the oil over moderately high heat and brown the chicken with the potato cut into one inch cubes. Transfer the chicken and potatoes into a baking dish, spoon 2 cups of the sauce over the chicken and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Add remaining sauce to obtain the right consistency and amount of sauce of your own choice and preference.
Ideally I would butterfly and grill the chicken until you get some charred bits, rather than just browning it as above – I’m pretty sure that’s the way the restaurant did it.