Macau’s savory meat-potato hash feels foreign and familiar
As the first European gateway to China, Macau became the center of Portugal’s massive maritime empire in the East. You can still taste the resulting mix of flavors.
Egg-custard tarts, salt cod with garlic, and baked duck rice often are on the menu, though so are galinha à Africana (African chicken), Chinese steamed pork buns and Indian coconut curry.
Now imagine that kind of cultural convergence all in one dish — minchi, a minced-meat hash for which every family has its own throw-it-together recipe. It usually includes potatoes and tomato paste brought by the Portuguese, common Chinese ingredients like rice vinegar and soy sauce, and even Worcestershire sauce from the British, who also used Macau as a base before founding Hong Kong across the Pearl River Estuary in 1841.
Stir-fried together with ground pork and a little brown sugar, the hash tastes savory and slightly sweet, and altogether comforting.
For the weeknight-friendly version in our book “Milk Street Tuesday Nights,” which limits recipes to 45 minutes or less, we shorten the cooking time by jumpstarting cubed potatoes in the microwave. After cooking the pork with most of the seasonings, we remove it from the pan to finish cooking the potatoes until they’re crispy.
We lighten what could be a heavy dish by adding grated ginger, which isn’t typically involved. Sometimes served with rice, minchi, like any hash, begs to be topped with a fried egg and a squeeze of Sriracha.
Most recipes with potatoes require turning on the oven or long cooking times, but we often jumpstart potatoes in the microwave for weeknight cooking.
Macanese Meat-and-Potato Hash (Minchi)
Start to finish: 35 minutes
1¾ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
12 ounces ground pork
3 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts reserved separately
3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
In a large microwafe-safe bowl, combine the potatoes, ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until almost tender, about 5 minutes, stirring halfway through. Drain the potatoes.
In a medium bowl, stir together the pork, ginger, sugar, tomato paste, scallion whites and ¾ teaspoon pepper. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the pork mixture and, using a wooden spoon, break into small pieces. Cook, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl and wipe out skillet.
Set the skillet over medium-high, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and heat until shimmering. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring and adjusting heat as needed, until browned and crisped, about 15 minutes. Return the pork to the skillet and add the soy and Worcestershire sauces and vinegar. Toss, then stir in half each of the scallion greens and cilantro. Taste, season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining scallions and cilantro.