Monday, December 17, 2012

Macau Series (6) - Galinha à Africana

Macau has a very unique place in the world since it was the first and the last European colony in China.  For instance, Portuguese is still considered one of the official languages in Macau under the policy of "one country, two systems".  In addition to inheriting a slower pace of life and an inimitable collection of holidays, Macanese cuisine is also heavily influenced by the Portuguese culture.  

Galinha à Africana (African Chicken) is amongst the signature dishes you will find at most Portuguese restaurants in Macau.  It is a dish with roots from Mozambique (another version said it's from Angora) and enhanced by Indian, Portuguese, and Chinese cooking style.  To me, it is basically the love child of globalization. Thank you, wives of Portuguese sailors who were mixing their own spice blend to replicate European dishes for their homesick stomachs!

The seasoning and ingredients used by each restaurant / family is different, so the taste of the African chicken could vary depending on where you tried it.  Nevertheless, the basic ingredients used are garlic, salt, black pepper, paprika, ginger, white wine, herbs, olive oil, coconut milkshredded coconut, etc.  The sauce is brushed onto the chicken and cooked over a charcoal grill or a conventional oven.  This mouth-watering chicken should taste crispy on the outside and juicy in the inside, with a hint of spice from the garlic and paprika and sweetness from the coconut.  Your taste buds should be dancing with each bite leaving you wanting for more. 

My favorite is made by the talented chefs at Henri's Galley Restaurant.  I am a regular there since the 90s and I am pleased to say it's one of the very few restaurants that has retained its quality over the years.  Other than the African Chicken, I would also recommend the Curry Crab (or Prawns).  The sauce is finger licking good and I always get the leftover sauce to go (regardless if there is any meat left).  I don't think I am the only one since the waiters & waitresses never question and brings out a tub when I asked.  Reservation is strongly recommended.

bolinho de bacalhau
poor lighting has made this dish less appetizing than it really is
ox tail in red wine sauce
curry crab
I have always wanted to recreate the famed African Chicken at home and to my surprise, the last time I went, I found the ingredients to their secret sauce listed right on their placemat!  I guess too many people must have requested the secret recipe and the owners were feeling generous enough to share.  After even more research on the Internet, I found the full recipe - apparently, it was published on Gourmet Magazine many years ago.

African Chicken (a.k.a. Galinha à Africana)
(Source: Henri's Galley, Macau)

3 -3 1/2  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.

In a bowl mix all the above ingredients and rub into chicken and in a shallow dish let the chicken marinate, covered and chilled, for at least six hours or preferably overnight.  (I didn't have some of the spices so I just used chopped garlic, shallots, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, cooking wine and marinated my chicken - I know it's not the same but oh well...)

1 cup minced shallot
1/2 cup minced garlic
1 1/2 cups minced red bell pepper
1/2 cup corn oil
1/2 cup sweet paprika
1 cup grated coconut
1/2 cup natural style peanut butter
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 bay leaf (dry)
3 tablespoons corn oil
1 potato

(Again, didn't have some of the stuff so I omitted the red bell peppers, sweet paprika, coconut, and chicken broth... instead, I used a combination of chili powder, curry powder, 1/4 of a chicken stock cube, coarse peanut butter, and 2 potatoes)

1. 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.

2. Stir in the parika, coconut, peanut butter, bay leaf and the chicken broth.

3. Bring the mixture to a boil, simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes and then discard the bay leaves.


4. In a large skillet heat the oil over moderately high heat and brown the chicken with the potato cut into one inch cubes.  *Instead of browning the chicken on the stove, grill the chicken over charcoal for the authentic smokey flavor.  (Instead of one inch cubes, I quartered the potatoes.  At Henry's, they actually have the entire potato uncut in the dish)


5. 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.

I love having an oven in the kitchen!
6. Add remaining sauce to obtain the right consistency and amount of sauce of your own choice and preference.

trust me, it tastes better than it looks...
Honestly, I would just go to Henri's for the real deal if I am in Macau... this dish is not hard but it requires a lot of ingredients that I don't normally use so that was quite a hassle... 

Mine didn't turned out quite like the one from Henry's since I changed so much of the recipe... it tastes good but it's more of a resemblance of curry chicken with peanut butter, which surprisingly, wasn't half bad!


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