Sunday, April 17, 2011

Macanese treats

My love of the former Portuguese colony of Macau is not limited to the architecture and streets. A big part of my love for Macau stems from the food.

Over the years, I have spent an enormous amount of time gorging myself on Macanese cuisine, which is an amalgamation of the cooking cultures of Portugal and Southern China, along with a smattering of South East Asian, Indian and even African influences.

Of particular importance to me were the Portuguese egg tarts.
Portuguese egg tarts, or "Pastel de nata" are a Macanese specialty. They combine the delicate egg custard with the light crispy pastry with the crunchy sweet caramelised bases.

I probably went a bit overboard with the number I ate, but I couldn't help it. I knew that this would be the last decent Portuguese tarts I'd be having for a while, so I ensured that I gorged myself appropriately. I've had "Portuguese egg tarts" in other countries and back home in Australia, but it's just not the same. In fact, it's worse than not the same, they're usually terrible. The egg custard normally tastes bland, the pastry chewy and there is almost always a lack of the crunch that I have come to expect.

That being said, eating 12 in a day was probably still excessive....
The other Macanese specialty I decided to focus on this trip was the pork chop bun.

Unlike the Portuguese egg tarts, there really isn't a standard to expect with these pork chop buns. Every store seems to have their own take on the pork chop as well as the bun. For the pork chop, some places deep fry, other shallow fry, some are crumbed, some are marinated. It's completely up to the maker of the pork chop. I found one shop in particular that marinated their pork chops in a curry sauce. For the bread, a portuguese roll is normally used, but some places vary to use other breads such as chinese style steamed buns. All of these is served with no garnish. Why would you need a garnish when you have so much flavour and texture from the pork chop and bun already?
Even in the most touristy of touristy places, the Venetian, I was still able to get my fix of a pork chop bun.

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