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					                                                                                                               Crème de la Crème
Take a chopper and a chicken and you are already half way to a
culinary masterpiece, audacious in its simplicity, that will have your
guests demanding the secret. Don’t tell ‘em!

T    he Portuguese aren’t known for their
     cuisine – the world’s cities aren’t crammed
with Portuguese restaurants in the way that Italian,
                                                       The British Fish and Chips is pure Portuguese,
                                                       and miscalling the chips “french fries” fools
                                                       no-one born east of Cape Cod. The French think
Chinese, even Japanese restaurants crowd every         the chips are Belgian, as do the Belgians (it was
town. Even German food can be found all over the       the Flemings who brought the dish to Britain), but
world in the forms of the Hamburger                    southern Europe knows they are Iberian. Who had
and Frankfurter.                                       both Olive Oil and New World potatoes first?
                                                                                Not the Belgians.
This astonishing dish couldn’t be simpler,                                    And as for Cod, the
but the interplay of chicken, garlic, rosemary                                far-ranging Portuguese
                                                                              were catching the cod off
& potato has complexity beyond belief.                                        Newfoundland in open
                                                                              boats before Columbus
It is all the more odd then that Portuguese            was even an idle thought in his father’s head.
cooking has had the influence that it has.
                                                       This cod, salted and dried is called Bacalao, and
Japanese Tempura? Nothing but deep-fried
                                                       has a flavour and succulence all its own when
prawns in batter, and absolutely nothing like
                                                       brought to life in any of a hundred different dishes.
any other Japanese cuisine. You’ve guessed it
– Portuguese explorers took the idea with them,        The Japanese word for bread, “Pan”, is an import
and the Japanese made it their own.                    from Portugal too. The southern Chinese also owe
                                                       several classic Chinese techniques to the influence
                                                       of these great travellers. The use of batter to coat
                                                       meat can be traced to the Portuguese, and there
                                                       are other indications of cultural cross-over. These
                                                       are less obvious than in Japan, whose native
                                                       cuisine is so starkly simple that anything foreign
                                                       stands out.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Crème de la Crème
                                            Macao is the place to go for perfect Chinese
                                            and Portuguese fusion cooking. The Portuguese
                                            not only brought oil and oil-cooking, they
                                                                                                      Portuguese Chop
                                            brought spices from India and Africa and                  Chop Chicken
                                            cooking ideas from both, and sugar and pepper
                                            from the Indies. They brought chillies, peppers,
                                                                                                      Ingredients you’ll need:            Method:
                                            tomatoes and potatoes from the Americas. A
                                            cavalcade of flavours and exotic foods, instantly
                                                                                                      – A chicken                         Chop up the chicken and the potatoes into
                                            taken-up and further developed by the curious
                                                                                                      – A big onion                       chunks. Not too small, say two to three inches.
                                            Chinese. I’ve had better African Chicken in
                                                                                                      – 1 kg of potatoes                  Skin neither chicken nor spuds unless the
                                            Macao than in Portuguese East Africa.
                                                                                                      – 1 garlic bulb                     spuds are really old or dirty.
                                            Back home in Portugal, the take-up of such                – A bunch of Rosemary
                                                                                                      – Some Olive oil                    Peel and slice the onion.
                                            exotica was not so fast nor so comprehensive.
                                            The missing ingredient is the Chinese cook                                                    Whack the garlic bulb on a hard surface and
                                            – the country people in Portugal being more                                                   get the cloves. No need to peel.
                                            conservative than their sea-faring cousins.
                                                                                                      You’ll need four or five friends,   Spread the lot into a shallow baking dish,
                                            Portuguese cooking from Portugal is dead plain,
                                                                                                      depending on the size of the        scatter rosemary and some salt and pepper
                                            true, but it is still the basis of this influential and
                                                                                                      chicken. Ask one friend to          on top, and give it a couple or five good glugs
                                            unsung cuisine.
                                                                                                      bring a lettuce and tomato          of oil. Don’t be mean with the oil, make sure
                                            Good plain cooking is sometimes hard to do,               salad. Ask the other friends        everything is covered.
                                            relying as it must on the ingredients to make             to bring strong red wine
                                            flavour without the help of spices and special            – no namby-pamby                    Put into a hot 220oC oven for 20 minutes.
                                            techniques. And here is a recipe that packs               chardonnays.                        Then reduce oven to 190oC, turn everything
                                            an incredibly-flavoursome punch, takes less                                                   over to brown the other side and bake for a
Image courtesy of Stephen Wan Photography

                                            than five minutes to prepare, uses one kitchen                                                further 40 minutes.
                                            implement only, (and you could manage with a
                                            penknife), and cooks in 60 minutes.


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Description: Take a chopper and a chicken and you are already half way to a culinary masterpiece, audacious in its simplicity, that will have your guests demanding the secret.