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There are some women, whose problem is that they never believe they have what it takes to put together an IKEA coffee table.  Then, there are those such as myself.  Who hold unexplained and relentless faith in their own physical strength.  Who ask, how hard can it be?  Who practically built every single bed-bath-and-beyond in her apartment, with chapped unpolished nails and a can of diet coke.  And who, sometimes, get cocky.

If you ask me now, I would tell you I have absolutely no idea whatsoever, on why on earth did I think I had the same skills as a professional large-scale furniture builder/wood carpenter, which must be how I felt when I bought 3 colossally humongous, solid wood, antique courtyard doors that I thought I could turn into a dinning table with nothing but a mini screwdriver?  Why… why did this feel a bit different from those IKEA bookshelves with their friendly pre-drilled holes?  Why?  I kept asking myself the same question when I dragged this bone-crushingly heavy thing into the shower, scrubbing and rinsing off its ancient dirt that ran into the drain as black as the humour I found in all of this self-inflicted pain.  Today, I can’t feel my neck.

This is the kind of day when I’m really grateful for awesome leftovers.  I can only thank my foretelling self when I crawl to the fridge, dragging behind me a trail of defeat, and find a pure Macanese creation called “Portuguese sauce rice gratin”, a cheesy and bubbly seafood fried rice flooded with a light coconut milk curry and gruyere sauce then finished under the broiler, which I suspect, probably has nothing to do with Portugal.  I came up with its recipe the other day, because I’ve long been curious of it.  With its name being as confusing as its concept, this is one of those dishes that sounds weird but ultimately, defies all logics.  It’s one of the classics on every menu of “tea restaurant” in Hong Kong, among with its peers that all came into existence under the great mashing of different cultures during colonial times.   Without trying it before, you’d probably question… really?  But yes.  YES!  The rice gratin stirs into kind of a cheesy, coconut-y, mildly curried risotto almost, and pleases all way from the taste buds down to a warmed tummy, and repeats.  It is easily one of the most surprisingly delicious, can’t-stop-won’t-stop mess-on-a-plate I’ve cooked, with unlikely flavours that weld perfectly together into your next week-night regulars.

So I feed, heartily, staring into the wooden beasts with restored combativity.  I will break you, I say, and sit a piping hot pan of Portuguese rice gratin on your face while I sip lemonade.  You just watch…







Serves: 2

You can probably use leftover fried rice from take-outs, or substitute the fish with other proteins like chickens or shrimps.  I’m convinced that this is the kind of thing that can’t taste bad.  I’ve tried with both shredded gruyere and shredded mozzarella for the top, and found that the mozzarella left a hardened “shell” which I didn’t appreciate in this dish.  This recipe reheats very well, so it can be made the day ahead then re-bake again in the oven before serving.


Serving Size: 2


  • 15.9 oz (450 grams) flaky white fish fillet, such as basa or cod
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and ground white pepper to season
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more if needed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups (510 grams) cooked rice, preferable a-day-old or slightly on the dry side
  • 1 1/4 cup (115 grams) finely diced scallions
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more to top
  • 2 medium shallots, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp ground coconut (fine coconut flakes)
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) whole milk
  • 1 cup (80 grams) shredded gruyere cheese, plus 1/2 cup (40 grams) to top
  • Salt to season


  1. TO COOK THE FISH: Cut the fish in small bite-size pieces, then season with salt and ground white pepper. Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil over high heat in a non-stick skillet, then cook the fish until slightly browned on the edges. Reserve 2/3 of the amount for fried rice, then roughly break up the rest for the sauce.
  2. TO FRY THE RICE: Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil over high heat in a wok or deep skillet, then add the beaten eggs. Before the eggs solidify, mix in the cooked rice with a wooden spatula and let the runny eggs partially coat the grains. After each grains are evenly separated and heated (if it seems dry, add a bit more oil), add the diced scallions, salt and ground white pepper. Mix evenly then add the reserved fish. Gently fold everything together then set aside.
  3. TO MAKE THE SAUCE: (If you have a small blender, you can puree vegetable oil, shallots, garlics and ginger together instead of grating.) Cook vegetable oil, unsalted butter, grated shallots, garlics and ginger in a pot over medium heat for 2 minutes until very fragrant. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and add curry powder, onion powder, ground coconut, all-purpose flour and ground black pepper. Stir constantly and cook for a few min until the paste starts to brown slightly, but careful not to burn. Whisk in the coconut milk and whole milk (make sure there's no lump), add the reserved shredded fish and simmer the mixture for 5~7 min until thickened and reduced very slightly. Now melt the grated gruyere cheese into the sauce, and re-season with more salt if needed.
  4. TO BAKE THE GRATIN: Preheat the broiler on high. Lightly butter the interior of the baking-dish, then spread the fried rice evenly across (you can make 1 big gratin or individual serving sizes). Pour in the sauce and make sure it completely covers the fried rice. Scatter more grated cheese over the top, plus a few small nubs of unsalted butter and a bit of ground black pepper. Bake on medium-high rack inside the oven until browned and bubbly on top. Serve immediately.


1 1/4 cup of diced scallions may sound like a lot, but trust me, that's how much it'll take.


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  • stephanie

    January 14, 2015 at 8:38 PM Reply

    omg portugese rice is one of my favourites mandy!!. this is pure hilariousness:

    “So I feed, heartily, staring into the wooden beasts with restored combativity. I will break you, I say, and sit a piping hot pan of Portuguese rice gratin on your face while I sip lemonade. You just watch…”

  • Belinda@themoonblushbaker

    January 14, 2015 at 9:12 PM Reply

    Haha Oh do i understand the perils of being cocky in IKEA. How hard can it be? I have returned many things because of it…. You have best writing style that make me want to eat and laugh at the same time, even though there is hazard of choking. Pure food comfort Mandy!

  • Ashley

    January 14, 2015 at 9:59 PM Reply

    Thanks so much for this, Mandy! If you have any more Macanese recipes please share! Their unique cuisine is so under-represented on the Internet.

  • Charlie (Chockywoky)

    January 14, 2015 at 10:02 PM Reply

    Once again, pure genius being displayed here.
    I’d love to see the result of your hard work on your table :) thanks for sharing!

  • Erika

    January 14, 2015 at 10:11 PM Reply

    I love portuguese fried rice and that curry sauce is like whoa!

  • Ksenia @ At the Immigrant's Table

    January 14, 2015 at 11:02 PM Reply

    I am determined to make a paleo version of this before the month runs out. It looks THAT good. But then again, once I omit the cheese, milk, and substitute rice for cauliflower, I’m not sure how good it will remain…. So maybe I better just wait until my paleo challenge ends. (that’s what my senses tell me. But I’ve never been very sensible. So we’ll see).

  • cynthia

    January 14, 2015 at 11:12 PM Reply

    I am so intrigued by this! I’ve never ever had it but it looks SO. GOOD. And so warming and perfect for this weather. Thank you for sharing, Mandy!

  • Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen

    January 14, 2015 at 11:44 PM Reply

    This is just…gosh I can’t even! Maybe it’s the chilly weather outside, but suddenly I feel like this is the only thing in the world I would like to eat right now. Hello comfort, hello Macao’s Portuguese Fried Rice Gratin!

  • Kari Jaquith

    January 14, 2015 at 11:47 PM Reply

    So going to have to make this. Do you think Sole would work?

  • che

    January 14, 2015 at 11:47 PM Reply

    this sounds really great. I’m going to make it for my housemates later this week. be sure to keep us updated on the table project. I know I’m not the only one who wants to see it when you’re done.

  • ChiO

    January 15, 2015 at 12:36 AM Reply

    Looks divinely delicious! Lovely pictures.

  • Ursula @

    January 15, 2015 at 12:46 AM Reply

    Hmm. Cheeeeeeez. Just the right dish for cold days. Perfect!

  • Rebecca @

    January 15, 2015 at 3:21 AM Reply

    This sounds like delicious gluttony!

  • Millie | Add A Little

    January 15, 2015 at 4:42 AM Reply

    Whaat this sounds amazing (as per usual!) I’ve never tried portugese fried rice gratin but I love the sound of all the complex flavours!

  • Laurie

    January 15, 2015 at 5:00 AM Reply

    I so understand what you mean about putting things together! My husband got me a small greenhouse as a gift a couple of years ago. I looked at the small box it came in with horror, knowing how many pieces must be in it. My husband looked at the box and said “I’m calling Roger”. Roger is a handyman of sorts and can do pretty much anything. We thank God for people like him!

    Love the dish you made up. I think curry makes you feel good inside! Definitely going to try this one.

    I seriously burst out laughing when said you couldn’t feel your neck!!

  • Trish

    January 15, 2015 at 8:00 AM Reply

    WOW! I am just in awe. This is like a dream meal right here.

  • Sarah @ Bonjour Sucre

    January 15, 2015 at 9:46 AM Reply

    Wow! I am salivating – your recipes never cease to make me hungry! I am loving the sound of that curry sauce.

  • Tara

    January 15, 2015 at 1:07 PM Reply

    Too funny! I moved to Hong Kong from the promised land (AKA Boston) a few months ago and my favorite thing to order from the only place that delivers to my house is the Portuguese Curry Rice. Your version looks WAY better. Time to bust out my rice cooker!

  • Crystal

    January 21, 2015 at 3:50 AM Reply

    I rarely cook or eat fish, but I made this last night and it is delicious. Great flavor and very creamy, even though I used 1% instead of whole milk. This is going in my regular dinner rotation. It seems more like 4 servings to me because it filled my 8×8 baking dish.

  • mamainsf

    January 22, 2015 at 12:28 PM Reply

    Just made it! Was licking the spoon after.

  • Natasha.Tasha

    February 1, 2015 at 2:23 AM Reply

    Omg this curried rice and whitefish dish with coconut flavor is just amazing! I couldn’t stop drooling while reading this recipe! Can’t wait to make it, and I will share it with all my friends!

  • Sal Vanilla

    March 5, 2015 at 6:53 AM Reply

    First time @ your blog. Love. I was “I can figure out how to do that” girl until I tried to conquer the screwed up gutter system on our house. Hubby very unhappy with me. Anyhoo, I was looking for something else when the picture for this caught my eye and I was like WELL doesn’t that look marvelously disgusting. My mouth watered when I was reading how to make it and I am iffy on fish. I cannot wait to make it. Thanks for the tip on the mozz.. I would have been tempted to do it. That sorta info is what separates a really good recipe maker form the meh one. Happy discovery. OK Now I can go see if there are pup pictures.

  • Claire

    June 28, 2015 at 3:56 AM Reply

    Hi – In the absence of a broiler can i heat this through at the end in my usual oven, and at what temperature/duration ? Thanks ;-)

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      June 28, 2015 at 2:36 PM Reply

      Claire, you could bake it in an hot oven, say 450F until bubbly. But I’m not sure if it will brown the top like a broiler :)

  • Stace

    October 14, 2020 at 9:19 PM Reply

    Is this really a serving for 2? Planning on making it for a family of 6..should I triple the recipe?

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