Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Macau-Style Portuguese Chicken Rice

I only needed one bite of the Portuguese Chicken Rice from Double Chin to know that I needed to figure out how to make it at home.  I hadn't even ordered it myself; my friend Alvin was nice enough to let a bunch of us try his, and I'm so grateful he did.  Sadly, it's not a very photogenic dish, but once you try it, you won't care.

It starts with a layer of chicken fried rice topped with a mild coconut curry sauce and finished with a sprinkling of shredded cheese.  Then everything goes under the broiler until it gets all bubbly and gooey.  I know it's kind of strange to have cheese on an otherwise Asian dish, but it works so well in this case.  I think the key is to use a mild, melty cheese so that it doesn't overpower the rest of the dish.  I ended up using a mix of mozzarella and provolone.  I thought it was interesting that when I was looking for recipes on-line to use, a lot of them just listed "shredded cheese" as the ingredient without any reference to what kind of cheese.  Perhaps in Asia there is just one kind of shredded cheese available!

I ended up referring to Lady and Pups' version because I love everything else she does, and it seemed the most similar to what I had at Double Chin.  The modifications I made were that instead of fish I used chicken and marinated it beforehand.  I used chicken breast because I prefer white meat, but feel free to use chicken thigh meat if you prefer dark meat.  I also made a couple of other modifications to her recipe based on what I had on hand (less scallions and water instead of milk) and taste preferences (half the amount of shallots).

Please note that this makes quite a bit of food.  Mandy's original recipe said that it serves 2, but it would probably be more like 6 Joy-sized servings.  And if you're wondering why it's called Portuguese chicken rice, I think it has to do with the fact that Macau was a Portuguese colony up until the end of the last century.  Apparently this dish is very popular in Hong Kong cafes, and I remember seeing something similar at one of my favorite eateries in Taiwan.

Macau-Style Portuguese Chicken Rice (heavily adapted from Lady and Pups)
serves 4-6

For the chicken:
1 lb. boneless chicken, cut into 1" pieces
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix all the ingredients except for the oil and marinate for 20 minutes.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the chicken until lightly brown.  Save 2/3 of it for the fried rice and finely chop the rest for the sauce.

For the fried rice:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-3 eggs, beaten
3 cups day-old cooked rice, refrigerated
1/2 cup chopped scallions
Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large pan and add the eggs.  Immediately add the rice and mix to coat.  Once the rice is heated through, add the scallions, salt, and white pepper to taste.  Add the reserved chicken and mix until even.  Remove from heat and set aside.

For the coconut curry sauce:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 shallot, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
13.5 oz. can coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups mix of shredded mozzarella and provolone cheese, divided

Use a small blender to puree the oil, shallot, and garlic cloves.  Mix with the grated ginger and butter and cook over medium heat in a saucepan for a few minutes until very fragrant.  Add the curry powder, onion powder, coconut, and flour continue to cook for a few more minutes to toast the spices.  Whisk in the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5-7 minutes until thickened.  Stir in the chopped chicken and 1 cup of the cheese.

Preheat the broiler.  Transfer the fried rice to a buttered casserole dish or oven safe pan.  You can also use multiple smaller dishes.  Pour the curry sauce over the rice and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.  Broil for a few minutes until browned in spots and bubbly.  Serve immediately.

Next:  Caramelized Honeycomb Ice Cream
Previously:  Extra-Crispy Tortilla Pizza
Two Years Ago:  Taiwanese Taro Swirl Mooncakes
Three Years Ago:  Brown Butter Vinaigrette Lobster Buns
Four Years Ago:  Caramelized Onion and Swiss Chard Quiche

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