Macau-Style Portuguese Chicken Rice

September  8, 2016
3 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

The only reason I went to Double Chin, a Hong Kong-style cafe in Boston's Chinatown, was to get an Instagram-worthy picture of their signature dessert. Yet by the time I left, it was another dish—a very un-photogenic one—that captured my heart, tummy, and soul. I don't even remember what entree I actually ordered for myself. (Thank you for letting me share your lunch, Alvin!)

After one bite of this dish I knew I had to try to make it at home. The dish starts off with a layer of chicken fried rice, which is then 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. This is pure comfort food, my friends.

I know it's kind of strange to have cheese on an otherwise Asian dish, but there's actually a pretty strong tradition of Western ingredients being assimilated into Eastern cuisine, long before the more recent spate of fusion restaurants began trending in the United States. Think of the ubiquitousness of mayonnaise in Japanese dishes, cheese on Korean ramyun and ddukbokki, sweetened condensed milk on Hong Kong-style French toast, or Spam in Hawaiian musubi.

I thought it was interesting that when I was looking for recipes for this dish online, a lot of them just listed "shredded cheese" as the ingredient, without any reference to what kind of cheese. So I ended up referring to Lady and Pups' Macao's Portuguese Fried Rice Gratin recipe, because 1) I love everything else she does, and 2) it seemed the most similar to what I had at Double Chin. I used chicken instead of fish 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 (fewer scallions, water instead of milk) and taste preferences (half the amount of shallots, provolone instead of Gruyere).

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.

Note: For a lazier version of this recipe, just use your local Chinese take-out fried rice and skip adding the chopped up chicken to the curry sauce. Because I totally understand if you just want to get this into your mouth as soon as possible. —Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy

What You'll Need
  • For the chicken and rice
  • 1 pound boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2-3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups day-old cooked rice, refrigerated
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 dash Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste
  • For the curry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh 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 ounces can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups mix of shredded mozzarella and provolone, divided
  1. For the chicken and rice
  2. Mix the chicken, cornstarch, soy sauce, and rice wine together and let marinate for 20 minutes.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat and cook the chicken until lightly browned. Save 2/3 of it for the fried rice and finely chop the rest for the sauce.
  4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat in a large pan and add the beaten 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.
  1. For the curry sauce
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Erin Lee
    Erin Lee
  • Anita Gazaway
    Anita Gazaway
  • Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
    Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
  • tkimberley

5 Reviews

Erin L. January 27, 2021
Just made this tonight and damn is it good! I haven’t ate this dish in years since I can no longer tolerate most milk products. I subbed ghee for butter, GF King Arthur’s cup for cup for the flour and a combination of DF cheese from Miyoko’s Kitchen and Violife and it still turned out! The only other tweak I made was adding a tsp or two of soy sauce to the curry sauce since it needed a small boost of salt/umami.
tkimberley August 30, 2020
I made this at the suggestion of a friend and my family literally said, "this is the best thing you've even cooked"! My only complaint is that it dirties every dish in the house.
Kelly August 23, 2020
Tried this tonight and it was great! It’s kind of like a fried rice curry casserole. My kids liked it too - it will be one I make again for sure.
Anita G. February 2, 2017
Having lived in Macau for years, I was thrilled to see this recipe. I've travelled the world and some of the best meals I've ever eaten were on this tiny island in the South China Sea!!
Joy H. February 2, 2017
Thanks! If you try it, please let me know if it could be improved. =)