Is there anyone who doesn’t know Chef Antonio and his famous restaurant Antonio’s tucked away in the historical Taipa Village? The jovial gentleman’s clientele list includes celebrities, diplomats, and businessmen, along with countless tourists and locals. His restaurant boasts a unique culinary signature that embodies Portuguese cuisine. Here he shares with us some of his secrets for making traditional (and delicious!) Portuguese dishes.
We have recently visited Chef Antonio at his restaurant and had the most engaging conversation–you will learn all the curious details about 5 signature dishes served at Antonio’s.
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In Portugal, one of the most popular and basic dishes is the homemade sausage. If you keep it in the refrigerator, it lasts long while kept in a box with salt preservation. These days while new ways have emerged on how to make it, my technique is just to keep the following ingredients ready. Start with the pork loin, pork belly, olive oil, salt, red pepper paste, and paprika. Then, add a few onions, a little bit garlic, spicy or not spicy is totally up to you. Once done, mix everything well. We smoke it normally with wood, some special herbs, and a special smoke treatment. The wood is imported from north-central Portugal.
You serve it on fire, why?
One of the ways it is served in Portugal is that we serve it in a ceramic pot. We serve it as a side dish of a sandwich. And it can be roasted in front of the customer with alcohol normally with brandy or Portuguese wine. It gives a special and distinctive taste. Many people like it well done for the crispy finish.
When we arrived in Macau, we discovered that the Chinese don’t eat cheese because of the smell. They find it’s too strong and many factors aligned with that. I thought during that time, I must encourage people to eat cheese and I endeavored to make many people experience the taste of cheese. I tried to find a cheese that suited the taste in the region, normally they like it as a starter because it’s hot. I try to get the taste of sweet and sour that Chinese and Asian people like. I concocted it with sweet and vinegar to make sour as it’s a nice combination. Many local people started eating cheese and they started to like it.
It’s good for everything. You serve it on a piece of toast bread, a round bread or a rye bread with a little salad and tomato. It’s warm, and trust me, Asians like warm bread, it’s a perfect combination. It’s also perfect to share. You can divide it family style or two persons depending on style.
We eat much seafood in Portugal. Here, the Korean and Japanese like octopus very much. And they are about 40% of our clientele, combined with 40% Chinese and 20% expat. The octopus salad at first was not up to our taste and standards. It was too tough so we imported octopus from Portugal because of the softer quality. The taste is different, I guarantee.
We cook the octopus in a delicate way. When you cook 1 kilo it becomes 500g so one should be careful because if you cook it too much it becomes tough or hard. So, just 20 or 25 mins of cooking in boiling water and that’s enough. We cut and slice the octopus, we chop onion and garlic, coriander and mix all together. Add a little bit Portuguese olive oil and vinegar. Remeber not to make it too strong because vinegar cannot be too strong in Macau. People don’t like too much vinegar. And voila it’s also perfect for sharing.
Our clams come from Vietnam or are sourced locally. We especially prefer to source from the Red Market as the products are perfectly fresh and the boats bring it still alive. We spend about 15 to 25 kilos a day of this delicious dish. It’s a dish that’s very popular and easy to cook. The secret is you don’t overcook it. Imagine the clams that you put in your mouth, it has to be juicy for eating and drinking the juice of the clam.
Start with the sauce first because clams need to open a little. You need to make it a little bit warm to make it loose. Put olive oil and garlic, a little bit rock salt and black pepper. You put a little bit fish sauce, coriander and taste of everything afterwards.
When it’s totally open, you can add the wine—the garlic is half cooked so you feel the taste of garlic in your mouth. Add a bit more of onion and lemon juice. Before serving put a teaspoon of butter to melt. Put on ceramic pot and put fresh coriander to give an enticing aroma. The vapor and little bit of lemon combined with a dash of butter are the secrets of this recipe.
A traditional and popular dish, the seafood rice can be rich or medium. It depends on your preference. If you want put clams, prawns, some crab meat, or put lobster, scallops, and abalone which are all very fresh in Macau because there is lots of good seafood in Macau markets.
Let’s talk about rice because it’s important. A nice stew with olive oil, onions, first you need to cook a bit of onion, garlic, and green pepper. After this add a teaspoon of Portuguese paprika and then add two teaspoons of red bell pepper paste also. Mix all of these after you use olive oil and taste.
Don’t put salt because seafood can be salty naturally. Put small leaves of coriander on the side and mix with the sauce, add some white wine to cut the sugar of tomato, onions, garlic and red and green bell pepper because vegetables are too sweet, usually white wine to give aroma and to cut the sugar. Make sure to use a good white wine. It doesn’t need to be expensive but something fresh. After that add water to top cooking and boiling and you have rice. If the water is not enough you can adjust accordingly. Next is you need to put the seafood for five minutes. First, add the mussels because it needs more time to cook. The rest of the seafood can be in five minutes. For me, it’s best to cook them all together and not separately. Time it properly and don’t overcook so it’s not dry. You can taste and adjust salt, pepper, and chili to your preferred taste. Serve the dish with a little of coriander if you like or aromatic herbs.
Antonio’s is located in the beautiful heritage district of Taipa Village.
“Taipa Village—Authentic Macau” is a new brand concept established by Taipa Village Destination Limited, with the goal of promoting Taipa Village as Macau’s premier lifestyle district, boosting heritage attractions, innovative dining, niche retail offerings and a diverse arts and entertainment scene.
The primary goal is to foster “sustainable heritage” in Taipa Village—the blending of architecturally beautiful local shop houses with vibrant retail and food and beverage concepts, which benefit the wider Macau community and become a new tourist attraction in their own right. We aim to promote Taipa Village as an exciting and culturally rich non-gaming destination by offering a perfect alternative to the city’s casino resorts.