Originating in the African colonies of Mozambique and Angola, trinchado is more African than Mediterranean. Not really Portuguese.
It means “cut up” or “carved” in English and it was served as a tapas-style bar snack along with drinks in most Mozambican bars over the years. Making its way into South Africa with the Portuguese immigrants from Angola and Mozambique to become part of the local popular South African food culture.
My first introduction to the dish was at the street cafes on family jaunts to Beira and Quelimane. But at that time, it was not trinchado that was on the menu. It was the prawns, the beer and the raw red wine. Completely overshadowing the complimentary snack that came with our drinks, assumed to be a goats meat stew of left overs.
It was not until many years later that Luis sold me on the pleasure of breaking off a chunk from a soft Portuguese roll and dunking it into the spicy sauce, complimented by an ice cold Castle larger. a Palhota was a small cafe in Johannesburg, Troye St if I can remember, that I would visit once a month. A regular pub lunch after taking my debit order input to the Sanlam Centre for processing.
It boasted a horseshoe shaped bar, presided over by Henry. A dour, taciturn man who grudgingly served the same gathering of regulars every month. No one spoke English and I sampled the various items on the menu by pointing at the next one I hadn’t yet tried. Caldo verde soup, carne asada, bacalhau and the bife steak. But it was the squid stewed simmered in squid ink that did it for me. Unsure at first, but one of those memorable dishes that can never be matched.
At some point Luis took over and I moved from the bar to the adjacent area where there were tables and chairs. A dark, comfortable space which became my regular spot and his trinchado starter my dish of choice. He too was dour and uncommunicative. But more bitter, having moved to SA after the collapse of the colonial regime in Angola.
Things we never discussed in halting English.
Trinchado is usually a of stew made with the off cuts, bits and pieces of whatever was on the menu that day. Containing a variety of meat types and seafood marinated in wine, browned in olive oil and spiced with chilli, garlic and olives. Simmered on the stove for the whole day, making a tender and spicy dish generally served with drinks.
A traditional South African Portuguese fusion dish with every family having their own recipe. Sometimes made with cream and often served as a main meal in restaurants, with thick cut potato chips or as a trinchado steak.
Similar, just as tasty. But not quite the same thing.