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helenas

African Chicken

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Help, please:

My husband is currently in Hong Kong for business, and had a chance to spend the last weekend in Macau. Since then he's raving about the famous "african chicken" and picked up my curiosity a lot, but unfortunately there is no much information available on internet or in books i checked.

I wonder if somebody could help with the recipe outline or detailed dish description? :smile:

Thank you.


Edited by helenas (log)

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I am not familiar with the dish, but I found this recipe in a 'google' search. Would this be it?

http://www.tamaraskitchen.com.au/recipes/rec_single.asp?309

jo-mei: That version of African Chicken is very different to the Hong Kong/ Macau Chicken Dishes most popular.

Africian Chicken or "Pipi-Piri Chicken as it's commonly called is one type.

Portugese Chicken is the other more commonly served.

The "Portugese Chicken" was first introduced in the Towngas Cookery Book in 1962 by the Hong Kong and China Gas Company.

This was the first Cookbook published and cross referenced by English to Chinese and Chinese to English utilizing local Cantonese translations.

Many of the Baked and Casserole type dishes were incorporated into the them stylish Chinese/European Style Cafes becoming popular in the Colony.

The Africian Chicken was a street side specialy in Macau where a whole Chicken was often Butterflied, after being mariniated in Piri-Piri Sauce [Hot-Hot in Portugese] cooked over coals and served, or featured in most Macau Restaurants.

The Portugese Chicken was a Chicken Cassarole with onions, potatoes, evaporated milk, boiled eggs, coconut cream, mushrooms and flour with concentrated chicken broth, peanut oil, a touch of saffron, chinese "F arDue" wine, Spring Onions, Ginger, Maggi Sauce, Soy Sauce, salt and pepper.

This recipe remains pretty much the same even after all these years and its still popular. If anyones really interested in the details i'd be glad to dig out a copy of the cookbook and write it verbatim.

Irwin

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Bravo again, Professor Irwin!

I only got to Macau a couple of times (HK visa extension purposes). I encountered plenty of "street chickens", but not side street Chickens. I don't think Helenas will hear her husband raving about those, though.

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jo-mei: That version of African Chicken is very different to the Hong Kong/ Macau Chicken Dishes most popular.

It didn't sound like the same recipe as described in a search.

The HongKong Gas Company's 1978 edition Chinese cookbook doesn't have any reference to any Macanese or Portugese chicken recipes. I guess it just stuck to pure Chinese.

The history of the 'piri-piri' chicken is fascinating. Origins of dishes are fun to read.

Whenever I've been in China, (or HK / Macao) I've kept a food log. I just looked to see what I had when I was in Macao in '95, and at the Solsada Restaurant, I have an African Chicken listed. I described it as "stewed in a red/brown sauce with cinnamon. Tasty but chewy." It was served with boiled potatoes. I guess I had a stewed Portugese version?

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Piripiri chicken was invented in Mozambique using chilis that had been brought over from Brazil by the Portuguese colonial rulers, it was then carried over to Macau by those same rulers. How's that for a multi-continent colonial saga?!

The word piripiri itself is of Swahili origin - it's clearly a cognate of the word "berebere" used in Amharic to refer to chili-based sauces. Wonder what it referred to before the chili existed in Africa. . .

Frango piripiri is also a very popular dish in Portugal as well, to put it mildly. The chicken is grilled, then doused in the hot sauce made from chilies, lemon juice, olive oil, and / or garlic, etc. It is usually served with french fries, as the . I assume that's similar to what's being sold in Macau as "African Chicken"?

The Mozambican version is a bit more complex - coconut milk and cilantro are sometimes added to the mix. It's usually served with rice rather than fries, though there are no clear-cut rules it seems. Piripiri mixture can also be used to marinate all sorts of seafood, particularly prawns. . .

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"Gourmet" magazine many years ago [>10?] had an article on the many versions of the casserole type Macau chicken; hope it helps you a bit; maybe the folks there can help you trace the issue.

gautam

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I would like the casserole recipe very much, Wesza.

Maybe the swahili berebere originally meant something like "don't pick up that hot pot, dummy", and fit when they acquired chiles. Hey, it could happen :laugh:

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The classic African Chicken was the version that used to be served at Henri's Galley restaurant in Macau - that's the recipe that Gourmet Magazine published years ago. I'm pretty sure this is it, I've cooked this and it came out just like I remembered:

--------------------

African Chicken (Source: Henri's Galley, Macau)

A 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.

Sauce

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

2 bay leaves (dry)

3 tablespoons corn oil

1 potato

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 parika, coconut, peanut butter, bay leaf 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.

The version of African Chicken they serve at Henri's Galley today (well, as of a year or so ago, I haven't been there in a while) omits peanut butter, and uses coconut milk instead of grated coconut, but 10 years ago at the time of the Gourmet article they definitely had peanut butter and coconut in the sauce. I asked the current owner about the peanut butter and he didn't know what I was talking about, not a good sign. I should make trip there soon and see what it's like now. Many other restaurants in Macau have this dish on the menu, just ask if a) it's grilled and b) it has peanuts somewhere in the sauce (that's what makes it 'African') to make sure you're getting the real deal.

Cheers,

Hong Kong Dave

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Thank you, everybody, for such interesting and deep discussion.

HKDave, your recipe sounds like the dish my husband had in Macau. I'll make it soon and will report back the results :smile:

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I would like the casserole recipe very much, Wesza.

Maybe the swahili berebere originally meant something like "don't pick up that hot pot, dummy", and fit when they acquired chiles. Hey, it could happen :laugh:

Mabelline & Sun-Ki: The African use of almost every non-native spice, seasoning and herbs most like can be attributed the the Portugese Spice Traders who introduced these items into the cultures.

With most special or unique spices they were carefully introduced into the market place in a form that made sure not to provide seeds or anything that would allow the customers to produce or grow their own spices.

In Africa the Chilis were powdered, ground or always broken into small pieces.

The very spicy Cayanne and Chillis were identified by calling the mixtures "Piri Piri' or "Berebere', or some variation to most African Tribal Cultures. The same was applied into Asia and India permitting many years of very high profits.

During my research I found information that showed how the type and basis for Curry started in the Ango-Saxon Market, especially Germany, France and England.

The Large Wood Boxes of Spices imported into Europe from Asia and India on the Black Ships was generally sold in Whole Pieces. However there was quite a bit of Residue and Powder that remained in the Boxes after packing. This was mixed together with Tumeric ground and powdered to bring a uniform color and mixed.

This mixed spice was moderately priced and became popular being marketed as "Curry" that was adapted from the Indian name for Mixed Spices.

Now will get to the recipe. There was very little use of Nuts in the stews served in Macau that were called African or Portugese until the 1970's when there were several attempts to experiment with African Cusine at several of the upscale Restaurants. The first place it was served was at the Buffet at the Lisboa Hotel.

"PORTUGESE CHICKEN"

From the Towngas Cookery Book of the Hong Kong & China Gas Company Cookbook First Edition May 1962.

INGREDIENTS

whole chicken [cut into pieces]

3/4 pounds onion diced

1 3/4 pound potato large dice

1/2 pound mushrooms quartered

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled & cut in 1/2

3 oz evaporated milk

3/4 pound coconut milk

2 1/2 tablespoons flour

2 oz. butter

1/2 teaspoon saffron [optional]

1 cup rich chicken broth

4 tablespoons peanut oil

salt & pepper to taste

1 whole spring onion sliced thin

4 thin slices peeled ginger

INGREDIENTS FOR SEASONING CHICKEN

1 teaspoon maggi sauce

2 tablespoons red or white wine

2 teaspoons soy sauce

METHOD:

Mix Chicken with seasoning ingredients, let stand for 1 hour.

Heat peanut oil add spring onion and ginger, ffry until brown. Remove onion and ginger from oil.

Put chicken into hot oil and fry for 3 minutes and put aside. Put onions and Potato into hot oil to fry.

In seperate pot heat butter, add flour, then saffron.

add 1/2 chicken both and evaporated milk to make into a thick sauce.

Then add Chicken and mix well; then add rest of stock, mushrooms, onions and potatoes, hard boiled eggs, 1/2 the coconut milk allow to simmer 10 minutes.

Place into a greased or buttered Baking Dish, add the rest of the Coconut Milk and a small piece of butter and bake for 1/2 hour. Use Thermostat setting MARK 4 [375 degrees].

I copied this directly from the cookbook making several modifications in ingredients allowing for the 2003 market, and not colonial Hong Kong.

This cookbook was one of the first attempts to translate English to Chinese/Chinese to English published for the Hong Kong Market for use in households and restaurants, where the great majority of cooks were Chinese.

The use of Manufactured or Propane Gas was only available in the more upscale area, as the majority of residential cooking was by use of Kerosine Stoves.

Irwin

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Irwin, I hope you rephrased the method, too, in keeping with copyright restrictions (if any).

Irwin, is there any part of the world you haven't been to? :laugh:

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I am definitely going to make that. I have every ingredient but the Maggi. I don't suppose Kitchen Bouquet is an adequate subsitute? I don't even remember why I have that. Pan, you sound as if you are feeling better. At least I hope so.

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Mabelline, how can you tell? Yes, I do feel somewhat better today. So far.

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I don't know exactly, I guess just the way your replies are sounding. Like the thoughts are not as painful to transmit. But bully for you!

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I am definitely going to make that. I have every ingredient but the Maggi. I don't suppose Kitchen Bouquet is an adequate subsitute? I don't even remember why I have that. Pan, you sound as if you are feeling better. At least I hope so.

Michael & Mabelline: No You can't susitute Kitchen Boquet for Maggi. Kitchen Bouquet is primarily a coloring agent, Maggi is a purported Flavor Enhancer quite popular in Asian Foods made by Knorr.

It can be found in most asian Grocers at resonable prices in many sizes. For some reason when it's available in regular super markets it more expensive.

The easiest alternative would be MSG, again much less expensive at Asian Grocers.

There are many places that I haven't traveled to but i've certainly enjoyed my quest for what tastes best and street foods at every opportunity.

I Almost overcome the first time I grilled Fresh Siberian Salmon or Coconut Crab in Fuji but must admit that the foods I miss most are so many treats from NYC that never taste the same anywhere else.

Irwin :rolleyes::biggrin::laugh:

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Irwin, I hope you rephrased the method, too, in keeping with copyright restrictions (if any).

Irwin, is there any part of the world you haven't been to? :laugh:

Pan; I'm not concerned about the copyrights on that series of Cookbooks as i've still all my notes from the 8 publications of the Hong Kong Gas Company Cookbooks and the translations are vaugly attributed but not copyrighted.

Actually there are very few recipes that may actually be legitimitly copyrighted since they almost all evolved from many different sources.

As example the type of recipe that resulted in the "Portugese Chicken" dish written about in the Gas Company Cookbook was made from a variation that was served at a small country Restaurant located in the New Territory section close to the Royal Hong Kong Golf Course near Fanling that I think may have been called "The Hollywood", in English that made several wonderfull large Pyrax Casserrole Dishes that were Portugese Chicken, Baked Squab, Baccalau [Dried Codfish] with Potatoes, various Vegetables and Cheese Combinations and our favorite Fresh Crab au Gratin. It was very popular with the Army and British expaitriates and had been there very low keyed for many years. When we started going there they acted surprised that Hollywood was the location in the USA where Movies had become popular from, plus they were also getting business from Chinese Families and Americans who were interested in the dishes they were serving.

Irwin

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Earlier in the year, I visited Macau for the first time and tried this dish, not at the famous Harry's, but at another restaurant, Solmar. I enjoyed it so much that I didn't want to have to wait to get back to Macau to try it again. HKDave let me know that he posted a recipe for this in our Recipe Gullet forum - and in this topic, it looks like. It's a bit of a process to make, so I invited over some friends and made it a bit of a "World Cup" event - watching the South African-hosted event in China seemed a good excuse to try a "fusion" dish like this. My South African friend seemed puzzled by its so-called "African" roots, but conceded it was delicious anyway. Also: I used a whole bottle of paprika. Never done that before; with my Anglo-Saxon roots a bottle of paprika, purchased for dusting the tops of devilled eggs and potato salads, can last for years.

First stage: Marinate the chicken pieces. I bought a whole bird and cut it up myself, suing my cleaver; a first time for me. As I was making the marinade, I realized I had no five spice powder. It was late on a Saturday night, and the markets were all shut, so I couldn't run out for some. Fortunately, I had all the fives spices on hand, so I whizzed some up in my blender.

Second Stage: Use the chicken back to make stock. I had the spine and the back of the chicken left from the carcass, so I made two batches of rich stock, using some chicken feet I had in the freezer.

Third Stage: Grill. About three hours before guests are due over. Unfortunately, it decides to rain. My doughty husband stands outside with an umbrella over the grill, tending the chicken. The umbrella is now infused with a rich smoked chicken smell, making it unusable for any task now except for walking to a restaurant.

african chicken grill.jpg

Fourth Stage: Sauce. It takes about 30 minutes to get everything chopped to the correct size. I decide to add some fresh ginger in a half ratio to the garlic, because I like ginger. A half cup of garlic takes a long time to chop. At this time, I also quickly roasted two potatoes in the toaster oven.

Fifth Stage: Amalgamation. The completed chicken goes into the sauce. The recipe calls for a bake in the oven, but since it was 35 degrees out, I bunged the chicken into the wok I'd built the sauce in, turn the heat low, and covered it for a half hour.

african chicken sauce.jpg

To go along with this I made plain rice with the leftover chicken stock, and a green salad with a lemon-olive oil dressing. And we had lots and lots of bread. I thought I'd have some left over for lunch the next day, but no dice. All bones were stripped, and all the sauce was gone, swept away on a sea of bread. It was a feast. And Paraguay won, keeping my husband alive in his pool.

Thanks for posting that recipe, HKDave; I have a feeling this chicken will become a bit of a party trick for me from now on.

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After reading this thread this morning, we are having piri piri chicken for dinner. He is marinating now.

I got to looking at my Asian cookbooks to see if this was covered. It was not, but on a whim I looked at bang bang chicken and it is very similar. Tahini instead of peanut butter and the some more typical Chinese ingredients.

Is it related at all? It looked very similar.

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It could be, although I've never cooked bang bang chicken before, or looked at a recipe. Isn't it meant to use sesame paste instead of peanut butter? The other main differences I would think is the inclusion of paprika, which is quite mild, and grated coconut, which definitely gives it a non-Chinese flavour and texture - at least to my limited experience.

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Piri piri chicken is very much related to African chicken; they're both dishes of the old Portuguese empire. "Piri piri" is a Brazilian tribal name for small red chili peppers. The Portuguese brought chilies to Africa from their American colonies, and then later brought them to Asia, including Macau. There were no chili peppers in Asia (and that includes the Thai, Indian and Sichuan cuisines - hard to imagine!) before the Portuguese brought them in the 1500s.

African chicken basically starts as Piri piri chicken but has the additional sauce, the 'African' ingredient being the peanuts, which originated in Africa and arrived in Asia by the same route.

Bang Bang chicken is probably unrelated. It's a Sichuan dish (aka "Strange Flavour Chicken"; both are literal translations of Mandarin names) and is classically made with sesame paste, although it's not uncommon to see it garnished with chopped peanuts these days. It's also served as an appetizer rather than a main.

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A friend returning from Macau today advises that Henri's Galley now has the ingredients to their Gourmet Magazine African Chicken recipe printed on their paper placemats, and it's almost identical to the one I posted years ago upthread and in RecipeGullet.

The only significant difference is that the recipe has 1/2 bay leaf, not 2 as I posted. If someone knows how I can edit this in RecipeGullet, please PM me.

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