The Adventures of Fat Rice

The Adventures of Fat Rice: Recipes from the Chicago Restaurant Inspired by Macau by Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo and Hugh Amano shares 100 recipes exploring the vibrant food culture of Macau - an east-meets-west melting pot of Chinese, Portuguese, Malaysian, and Indian foodway.

Fusions of flavors and cuisines make food more interesting and appealing to me. I love to add Indian flavors to regional American dishes such as taking a pork roast and blending it with warm spices from Indian or adding Asian spices and aromatics to a classic roast chicken. The various cultures that make up the cuisine of Macau are a few of my favorites.

Abraham and Adrienne are co-owners of the popular Chicago restaurant, Fat Rice. They have created a cookbook with touches of comic book type elements, snippets of history and modern funky food.  Baked Pork Chop Rice, Fat Noodles with Mushrooms and Egg and Rabo De Boi Estufado (Stewed Oxtail with Tomatoes and Portuguese Wines) are a few of the types of recipes you will find here and dishes I will be making soon. Powerful photos by Dan Goldberg and illustrations by Sarah Becan complete this must-have book for the true adventurer.

If a new cuisine is intimidating to you, start small with any number of Entradas - Curried Vegetable Chamuças (think samosa) served with Fragrant Tamarind Chutney, Minchi (Minced Beef and Pork) Croquettes with Sweet Plum Sauce, and Potstickers Royale with Crispy Crepe (a true showstopper) are all ways to start your adventure into this cuisine. Add a few of these selections to a party menu or as an appetizer or snack for game watching. As you can see by the recipes while they may be new to  you - they are familar. 

I've had the book for about six weeks now and the first thing I made was the Galinha Bafassa (Turmeric Baked Chicken) and it was a huge hit. The basic fried rice was just the way I love it - low on soy sauce - high on flavor. The majority of the recipes are very approachable and the ingredients aren't something that will need to be special ordered for the most part. I'm of the school of thought - that if there is one special ingredient that you can't easily procure - search the internet for substitutions - and don't allow that to hamper wanting to try a new recipe. Ask in our forums for suggestions on ingredients as well. 

Events are planned to celebrate this release so be sure to check if any of them are in your area. Food52 recently published an interesting article on this title.

The authors were kind enough to answer a few questions for us. After reading this article, be sure to enter our contest for a chance to win a copy of this book.

For those not familiar with Macau, can you explain where it is and what the food culture is?

The food and culture of Macau is a harmonious blending of peoples and cultures of which Portuguese explorers and traders encountered and mixed with 500 years ago during the age of exploration. 

You are from Lowell MA - how did you both come to be interested in this cuisine?

Abe is of Portuguese heritage from Lowell Massachusetts which is dubbed an "All American city" denoting significant cultural diversity, most notably, a sizable Southeast Asian population.  Abe familiarized himself with various cultures and cuisines through in his childhood and as a young chef. In 1999 read an article in Saveur magazine by Margaret Sheridan documenting the forgotten cuisine and culture of Macau that blending Portuguese, Chinese, Indian and southeast Asian flavors and techniques. Intrigued by a cuisine that combined his own culture with his interests, he vowed to go to Macau some day and study the cuisine.

Which Macanese dishes have proven most popular at your restaurant Fat Rice, and were there any that you had to give up on?

The most popular Macanese dishes of Fat Rice are Minchi, Arroz Gordo, Porco Balichang Tamarindo , Galinha a Africana.  Some Macanese dishes are not the most conducive to a restaurant setting.  One of which is Tacho, is a delicious wintertime stew that involves a lot of preparation.  Another which is Capela which is a decadent meatloaf is better for larger groups, but no fear these are documented in the cookbook so you can try them at home!

Which recipe in the book would you most like newcomers to Macanese cooking to try?

We think Minchi (minced beef hash) is a great first recipe for people to try out.  It really blends all of the elements that make up Macanese cooking - olive oil, soy sauce, spices, bay leaf.  It is a very comforting dish that a lot of people can relate to. 

Are there any unusual ingredients that newcomers to this cuisine may need to purchase? And do you recommend suppliers?

There are many new and interesting ingredients and we provide sourcing of them in the book. 

One of the issues with restaurant cookbooks is that they don't translate well to the home kitchen. How did you make sure that wasn't the case with your book?

We did endless testing of the recipes to ensure that the recipes were able to be replicated in the book. 

You recently opened a bar and bakery. Does the cookbook contain any recipes from those ventures?

Yes, we did recently open a cocktail bar and bakery of which our Papo Seco and the Macau Rice crisp are featured in this book.  Everything else will have to wait for the next adventure!!

What other expansion plans do you have?

At this time, we don't have any other expansion plans. We want to focus on the growth and evolution of the restaurant, as well as the new bakery and cocktail lounge.  We are however toying with the idea of making The Adventures of Fat Rice, a series. 

1 Comment

  • marcsch  on  11/1/2016 at 4:50 PM

    I love exotic books like this! Exotic adjective ex·ot·ic \ig-ˈzä-tik\ Simple Definition of exotic : very different, strange, or unusual of a plant or animal : not living or growing naturally in a particular area : from another part of the world Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

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