We used to visit Macau a lot from Hong Kong and almost always to go and eat at a fantastic little restaurant called “Fernando’s” which was situated on a black sand beach on the last of the three islands that make up Macau. This restaurant was very unprepossessing, the front of it was the usual Macanese style of open to the elements, plastic tables and chairs, TV blaring in the corner and overhead fans whirling lazily. However, those in the know, would march straight through to the back where it opened up into a lovely little garden, a wood and brick circular bar and a large, light and airy restaurant with checked table cloths and a big log fire burning in the cooler months. On your way through to the back you would pass the open kitchen which had charcoal pits ablaze over which would be roasting suckling pig and ‘road kill’ chicken (as we used to call it!). Pots of soup and sauces would be on the boil, particularly the famous Portuguese soup, caldo verde, but most importantly of all would be the buckets of huge king prawns and the utterly delicious, garlicky, spicy ‘clam sauce’. Luckily the table would be generously served with home made, rustic bread so that not a drop of the clam sauce would escape.
I asked the owner, Fernando himself, for this recipe on many occasions and he would just smile, tap his nose and basically tell me to bugger off. Now I have tried, over many years, to perfect this recipe and I reckon I have got it pretty close. And because I am such a nice guy I am going to share it with you all. Here goes:
You will need
1 kg large prawns, head and legs off, tail and shell on. Give them a good wash.
1 kg Clams in shells
200ml White Wine
1 Onion chopped
1 bulb Garlic, each clove crushed and roughly chopped
1 Thai chilli, chopped (or more)
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
1 big handful chopped coriander
2 tsp sugar
And then you have got to:
Give the clams a wash and drain them in a colander.
Heat a splash of EV olive oil in deep saucepan, add about five cloves crushed garlic, stir for a minute or two and then add wine. When wine is boiling add claims, put lid on saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 5 mins.
Drain clams but RESERVE COOKING LIQUID and then pick clam meat out of shells.
In another saucepan heat 1 tbs EV olive oil, add onions, chilli and rest of the garlic. Stir over medium heat for about two minutes and then add the tin of chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, clam meat, clam/wine liquid, sugar and three-quarters of the coriander.
Cook over low-medium heat for about ten minutes or so until it thickens slightly. It needs to be sort of thick soup consistency. Put the sauce into a food processor and whiz until quite smooth, don’t try and finely puree it, it should have a few little bits of garlic and clams through it.
Grill prawns over BBQ until cooked and place on a large shallow serving dish
Stir remainder of chopped coriander into sauce and pour over prawns.
This is a messy dish to eat, prawns to be picked up with fingers and pulled apart. Lots of finger licking, bread mopping and a huge pile of discarded shells in the middle of the table! Serve with a crisp green salad with a classic vinaigrette and lots of farmhouse-type bread to mop up the yummy sauce.