Tuesday, June 27, 2006

We do chicken right!

Uh huh...I'm soooooo chuffed!!!

I made a roasted chicken (bastardization of other people's recipes) and it turned out good!!!!

The boy, accustomed to my ...um... cooking attempts in the kitchen was highly skeptical when, after 1 hour, the chicken looked......well, half raw to be frank and since it was a tiny chicken, he was right to be concerned.

After scoring a chicken at the market, I rubbed it down with lemon, herbs de provence, oil from za olive and plenty of seasalt. Then I shoved half a lemon and shallots up its a*s (oh, yeah, I'm kinky) and then put bits of garlic under the skin. Left it to marinate for a day or so and then roasted that baby.... urm.....but I did fight hard with the conundrum of breast up or down. I finally decided on down.

It took a dang long time I tell ya! I need a proper oven for one thing but still, it usually works ok. Cooked it for an hour and a half, checked and seeing it looked kinda raw, cranked up the heat and removed the tin foil and let it tan quite nicely.

Served with the now soft shallots and garlic, together with steamed green beans, my boy ate up his meal, patted his belly and sang the old KFC jingle.

Oh yeah......I SO rock....

Monday, June 26, 2006

See Food indeed

Outdoor nibbles

Yesterday was definitely a day for eating outside. One of the hottest days in Hong Kong so far (32 degrees Celsius), it bright, beautiful and sunny with blue skies.

What better way to spend it than eating outside with a friend?

I must admit, the outside brunch bit was a bit accidental. My friend lives in the New Territories and I felt bad for having her always travel to my 'hood so thought I'd venture out of my comfort zone. Only problem is food. I don't know many brunch places in TST (our agreed middle ground). Besides which, it was such a lovely day the thought of being cooped up inside was unbearable.

So we returned to a past favorite. The Pit Stop at Harbour Plaza in Whampoa. It is no longer called the Pit Stop but something else entirely forgettable and innocuous sounding name like Outdoor Restaurant and Bar. In any case, all we wanted was brunch and since it was linked to the hotel, we thought it wouldn't be problem. Well it was.

Not a big one, just no two-egg and sausage type deal but more pizza and burgers.Ah well, I plumped for a pizza with a fried egg on top in order to attempt to get close to the brunch we had wanted while my friend went with the king prawns.

The pizza was thin crust with a good bit of stringy mozza on top (by the way, for the record, the stringyness by which cheese should be judged, according to a friend, should always be referenced to the last scene in the Asterix and Obelix goes to Switzerland book where they are having celebratory fondue).

It was very...filling and definitely needed Tabasco to give it a bit of a kick but did have nice artichoke hearts, ham and pepperoni throughout to make it interesting enough.

That evening was yet filled with more outdoor eating. After having spent the afternoon mostly soaking myself and trying to not throw little kids out of the pool, we had a BBQ at a friend's 18th floor apartment balcony.

Due to the lack of foresight, we had a bag of coals but no starter. Being city folk, many of us (including my boy, a former boy scout) had trouble lighting the fire. There were lots of trips from kitchen to grill carrying pots full of hot coals but no luck was to be had until a quick trip to the shops.

In the meantime, the lazier among us got to the dessert first. First up were the rambutans. These spiky, odd looking cousins to the lychee is not, I must admit, one of my favorites.

I find the skin a bit too similar to hairy spiders and the flesh has a sour tang to that I liken to rotting lychees. Obviously it is just me as these were eating up quickly (it may be swimming hunger though)

The seeds reminded me of unripe almonds, with a similar shape and a furry-esk outer skin. I was almost tempted to bite into it to see what was inside but a taste of the bitterness of the skin deterred me sharpish.

When the grill was eventually lit, we had the usual assortment of BBQ standards such as burgers, hot dogs, and my favorite, chicken wings on the grill, brushed with honey.

Our hostess of the evening had made the patties herself and they were very good with just enough of a burnt tang to remind me of past BBQs washed down with cold thick slices of watermelon, which is exactly what we finished with.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A sign

My horoscope for today read:

"When you first started indulging yourself, it was something special. But now you're becoming increasingly reliant on these little treats. Difficult as facing this is now, the sooner you recognise what you're doing, the more swiftly you'll find a better way to boost your spirits, and once again enjoy those treats only from time to time"

I am, sad to say horrified.

This has been the most accurate horoscope I have ever read. Let me explain.

Lately I've been feeling, well.....podgy.

Truth be told, I've gained a little weight. Ok, quite a bit. I have a sticky-outy belly where previously it was just a friendly little thing.

With summer here and the first bikini outing next Sunday, I am doomed.

Oh, and I ate a packet of Cheetos for dinner yesterday.

And a bag of Cheezels over the weekend.

I've also broken my "buy-Cheetos-only-if-on-sale-and-is-the-puffy-twisted-kind" rule.

I must break my dependence on my little treats.

Right after I finish the half open bag I have at home........

Saturday, June 17, 2006


After reading many of the fantastic food blogs extolling the virtues and deliciousness of the kohlrabi, particularly when dipped in some salt, I couldn't resist. I had to try.

I'm incredibly suggestible when it comes to trying food, especially ones I have not yet tried. Some I cannot afford but I do the best I can. So after hearing so much about Maldon salt, I found it in the local Park 'N Shop run Gourmet supermarket to go with the kohlrabi I found at a special Italian fest at City Super.

The salt I tried a flake first on my tongue..... Definitely different than table salt and stucturally different than the coarse salt I usually use.

Then it was time for the kohlrabi. It looked like an alien vegetable to be quite honest, round and bulbous and pale green with these bits around the veg. The top bit had a long stalk of green leafy bit.

To eat, I cut a slice off the top. It smelt incredibly peppery and 'crisp' and is very white in the centre with light green around the edges, a little like the inside of a granny smith apple. I sprinkled Maldon salt over the top of the slices and took a big bite. It was a lot sweeter than I thought and less peppery than it smelled but with a nice 'bite' to it. I really liked it, especially with less salt. It reminded me of a sweeter, nicer fresh baby radish while the boy felt it was more in line with a carrot. It was definitely much crunchier and watery, like a granny smith apple.

So, after all this? I concur with the other bloggers out there, this is a must try.

I just hope Hong Kong will see more of this vegetable soon!

Friday, June 16, 2006

D'oh nuts....ar ar ar ar arrrrr

KRISPY KREME is coming to Hong Kong!!!

About time! Long have I mourned the fact that there are no donut shops in Hong Kong but no longer....... we are getting Krispy Kreme!!

Now please, please, please stick to the original recipe.....

I can picture it now.... "Krispy Yau", based on the popular HK heart-attack treat, "Pau Lo Yau", Pineapple bun with thick slice of butter iniside

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Boy gone wild

The boy is lovely as can be but he doesn't often do the food shopping at home. That's mostly my domain. It's not a male chauvinist thing, trust me...he doesn't relegate me to the 'domestic' chores due to my being of the female persuasion. It's just that....well, he's a loose cannon in a grocery store.

An example of my typical grocery list:

- cottage cheese
- bran crackers
- lemons
- yogurt
- fruit is on sale
- lettuce
- chicken breast or pork chops/loin
- cherry tomatoes
- sweet peas or peppers
- one or two indulgent or 'splurge' type item: cheetos (!!), hunk of cheese, chocolate, drink, etc.

The boy's list?

Non existent except milk for his tea.

But that is not to say he comes home empty handed. No siree bob.

He usually goes in the store with the best of intentions to make me dinner. What usually happens is that he buys a phenomenal mix of everything and anything combining the most expensive things in the store ($40 for 2 imported nectarines!!!!) to the bargain basement foods that about to go off. Bless his soul, he also tries so hard to buy things that he thinks I would like or need. Such as hair elastics (who buys those at the grocery store?) and cinnamon apple 'candies' (they turned out to be Fisherman's friend throat lozenges!)

The boy ends up spending about 5 times as much as I do on food that will either languish in the refridgerator as he forgets to eat it or must be eaten that same night.

Completely impractical and incredibly indulgent at the same time, dinner that night consisted of a "must-eat-now" lamb burger with no bun, chilled mussels with dip, cereal and plums..... to give him credit, the lamb burger was perfect!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sand-wedge lunch

People who know me know that I work in a very industrial part of town, filled with factories. Happily, it is cheap but sadly filled with the “cha chan teng” type restaurant “Cha chan teng” literally means ‘tea meal house and typically serve Chinese diner type meals such as minced beef on rice with egg, fried fish in corn sauce, fried rice, various noodles, etc. Cha chan teng food is usually cheap filling and the ‘workman’s lunch’. I like it but unfortunately they are not usually healthy and especially around these parts, are laden with grease and oil.

So, in an effort to reduce the sticky-out bit of my belly, I try to bring my lunch or order healthy type foods. The only Western type restaurant around these parts is one Mr. Sandwich. While their food is quite decent, I’m not one much for sand-wedges (which is how the Brits pronounce sandwiches…at least to my ears). It reminds me too much of the limp, horrid sandwiches of yore which I used to take to school. These pathetic excuses for lunch, when I was in grade school, consisted of two pieces of close-to-stale white bread with a slice of ham with no condiments or garnishes. Although sandwich making has improved muchly and many gourmet sandwiches have appeared, they are usually not my lunch of choice….I prefer hot foods.

Well today, on my way to ordering penne bolognaise (Chinese style which is wayyyyy different than the Italian ragu), I stumbled upon a new style sandwich….

….Mango and turkey breast.

Mmmmn, that sounded good….I like fruity bits in my food, something the boy deplores.

So in goes my order:

“I’ll have the Mango and turkey breast sandwich please….

…on French bread….

…with no butter…

…oh and no mayo….

…extra mustard….

….yes, all the garnishes please………

….wait, wait, do you include onions? I don’t like onions……..

…oh and can you also include 2 packets of black pepper?”

I am the most annoying person in the area I believe.

It was good…..looked a bit scary with all the yellow mustard but tasted good with a good 1/2 a oval piece of mango wedged in.

Except for the French bread, which was over toasted and roof-scrapingly dry and hard.

Yay for a new lunch fave!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tofu Boobs

Ate at ‘En’, the extremely authentic Japanese, or more accurately, Okinawan restaurant in town on Saturday night.

Yes, I have refined friends….

well maybe not so much refined but definitely fun, which is far, far more important!

In any case, it was a friend’s birthday and we decided on a jumble of dishes. Most of which I can’t remember but definitely one of the most yummy and most amusing to us were these tofu boobs.

Unfortunately they arrived together with a strategic placement of leaf with a pointed dollop of ginger and prompted comments which ran the gamut of implants to the firmness factor.

No matter, I was happy with my peanut tofu, which was incredibly fragrant in the mouth, completely smooth and silky and rich. Much to my delight, due to the fits of giggle ensuing from the tofu boobs, I consumed the larger portion of one bobb all by myself.


En Japanese Dining Bar
2/F., Plaza 2000, 2 Russell Street,
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
TEL: 2834-3255
I went to this one in Causeway Bay (across from the Times Square cinema on the corner)

Kusu-ya En
1/F., Golden Dragon Center,
38-40 Cameron Road,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
TEL: 3428-2500

Japanese Okinawa Cuisine Chura
Unit A, B/1, The Toy House,
100 Canton Road,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
TEL: 3105-8950

Yakiniku Wa-En
5/F., The Toy House,
100 Canton Road,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
TEL: 3428-3345

Shabu-Shabu Zen
6/F, The Toy House,
100 Canton Road,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
TEL: 3428-3615

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Top Heavy at Top Deck

I am *almost* ashamed of myself. Not entirely or I wouldn't have the guts to do this but almost.

I had planned a nice, long leisurely lunch with friends for the boy and I on a nice Sunday afternoon. The male counterpart of the couple we ate with, let's call him Big T, is over 6ft and althletic and Western, by which I mean, not thin but very fit. Me, I'm just over 5ft, Asian and chubby.

I out-ate him.

By a LOT!

Now this is not a good thing. Especially since, less than 24 hours prior to this lunch, another friend's significant other asked me how I could eat so much. You see, I out-ate him too.

I am by no means boasting, this is quite embarrassing, out-eating friend's boyfriends on a regular basis. My excuse is that Asians have greater eating power by our elastic stomachs. They don't buy it. Whereupon I break down and admit my greed, which they happily accept.

Ok, carrying on to the good part.

Top Deck is the renovated top deck (aha!) of the Jumbo Floating Seafood restaurant. Jumbo is the ultimate in cheese with green neon lighting and looking a bit like a cheap pink wedding cake from the Seventies. Cafe Deco (of the Peak fame) renovated the top portion in 2005 and reopened it with a Western menu keeping it airy, light with lots of outdoor dining space.

We arrived at about noon and were seated under a canopy outside. After a cursory look at the view, my friend (bless her!) and I dove straight into the buffet.

My first plate consisted of two large whelks, three oysters (I know not from where), some cold somen with caviar, and a leg of Alaskan crab.

First the oysters. Yum. Sweet and salty. You'll see these repeated a lot.

*sidenote to the Chinese reading this, the oysters at regular price were HK$24 each!! You'll be happy to know I ate more than the price of the buffet like the good Chinese girl I am.

The whelks were a little rubbery, you won't see these repeated, the somen average and the crab leg sweet.

I moved on to plate two quite quickly. More oysters, this time accompanied by smoked salmon and a "cake" of faux crab sticks surrounding some real crab salad in the middle. Another Alaskan crab leg came along (psst....they were pre-cracked!!)

You'll be proud to note that I did not follow my peers and eat sushi. Sushi contains rice, which all good buffet buffs know are 'fillers'.

After a revolting conversation involving paella which my friends had a bad experience with at a certain restaurant in IFCII (*cough*). I still insisted on trying it, especially since a little friend decided to return with me.

"Fred" is a yabbie and enjoys saunas in plates of paella as well as cool dips in water glasses. Bright red and tan from the heat, he loves refreshing himself with lemon.

Anyhow, yes, I had a piece of sea bass with eggplant, some green papaya salad, a bit of paella with mussel and a tomato with mozzerella hiding in the back. I am evil enough to attempt to eat Fred but a look inside his shell revealed dark insides......*sigh* why must all the pretty ones have dark shrivelled interiors?

Moving right along, I had a slight break with a mini lemon meringue tart and then it was more fish, more oysters and a smidge of veggie curry on rice...ok more than a smidge but I didn't eat all the rice...honest!

I was thinking about more oysters but I stopped midway to the oyster bar and asked for a freshly made crepe with summer berries and a scoop of Movenpick ice cream. I also added the chocolate sauce.

I made a pig of myself.....or so I thought. Then I saw my boy's plate.


and he says he doesn't like sweets!! He said it was half for me but by the time my pancake was done, so was the chocolate plate.

I ended with another scoop of Movenpick topped with berries and called it a day.

Brilliant fun, good, fresh food and lovely friends....bliss....

Top Deck at the Jumbo
Jumbo Kingdom
Shum Wan Pier Drive
Wong Chuk Hang

Tel: +852 2552 3331

Sunday Seafood Buffet: 11:30am to 2:30pm
$298 with unlimited bubbles

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tuen Ng Festival

Yesterday was a Tuen Ng Festival in Hong Kong. The specifics can be read on the related link but more importantly, for the blog, of course, is the food. Parcels of rice wrapped in leaves, called “zhong” are the traditional food of this festival.

These little, portable, wrapped “lunchboxes” were quite popular before the days of TV dinners. When you think about it, it’s hygienic (serving as both the carrier of food as well as the plate, with no need for cutlery if you’re careful) and good for the environment (as opposed to Styrofoam boxes and plastic cutlery).

There are many variations but the most common savory zhong contain a piece of pork, with at least an cubic inch of fat (which infuses the zhong with flavor), together with a dried scallop (for the wealthy, some cheaper versions do not have this or have a very small one), a peeled chestnut (also somewhat of a luxury) and a salted egg yolk wrapped in yellow mung beans and glutinous rice. These are all cooked and wrapped up in leaves to be steamed before consumption.

There is also the sweet zhong, which is made with sticky rice, sometimes containing red bean paste. These are par-cooked and steamed to a sticky, chewy consistency to be eaten drizzle with golden syrup or in pieces dipped in sugar.

Each family eats zhong a little bit differently. I grew up eating the savory zhong with dark soy sauce (darker but not as salty) whereas a friend of mine dips his in granulated sugar and a colleague uses plain soy sauce. The same goes for sweet zhong. My family prefers boiling our own sugar syrup with rock sugar with ginger for a bit of a kick and some people prefer the texture of granulated sugar. Everyone thinks their method of eating zhong is the proper way and other people’s as strange or disgusting (savory rice packets with sugar….gross!).

Now onto my family meal....

As it was a family festival, my father’s eldest sister, Auntie Number Two invited us all around for a meal. A big meal. I think in every family there is one wealthy relative and one maiden relative. Both were present last night but it was the wealthy relative who was hosting the dinner, which is why it was so heavy on the rare (i.e. expensive) dishes.

We started off with a big bowl of shark’s fin soup. Ok, apologies to everyone here who is horrified by the thought. In principle, I don’t eat it but trust me, to get into the issue of refusing it with all my father’s family sitting around the table is really not an option unless I would like to be disowned. It doesn’t help but I don’t eat it except at family dinners.

There were a selection of appetizers included smoked pork, jellyfish, wasabi cukes and then the main dishes arrived.

First to come was the abalone with mushrooms….lots and lots of mushrooms. These were fabulous and I had at least 4 of the abalone and 6 mushrooms. Just tender enough but retaining some toothsomeness with a traditional braising sauce.

There were 2 chickens: one which was simply prepared with no sauce, to be dipped into the ginger and scallion sauce served on the side, and the other was “Chau’s chicken” which was prepared with salt and rice wine.

There was the boy’s favorite, prawns cooked in salted egg yolk……my kindly aunt cooked these especially for him…with no shells to slow down his eating progress…………unfortunately, however, the boy was ill and was not able to partake, to the extreme disappointment of everyone, especially himself.

Dishes of vegetables arrived and then the crowning glory, my favorite of the evening, the steamed whole fish topped with the remnants of rice wine….let me explain. Many people make their own rice wine in China and my uncle’s mother had made this particular vintage, of which there were only a few bottles remaining. My uncle generously shared some with us and it was very, very sweet, like a dessert wine with a beautiful aroma and no alcoholic taste. The “remnants” of the rice, become dark, almost black and strongly perfumed and salty and can be used to cook vegetables but in this case, was used to cook with the fish.

The fish was perfection itself. Lightly flavored by the wine-rice, savory and perfumed, the fish was firm and smooth, every bite tasted like the fish cheek (the best part of the fish and usually reserved for the honored guest or the most senior person at the table…for us it was my host aunt and uncle).

I ate until I was stuffed silly.

Finally it was starfruit and sweet zhong to finish a beautiful Tuen Ng Festival meal.

Side note:

In case anyone was in doubt as to the madness of my very lovely but crazy Chinese family, let me just describe to you the scene PRIOR to this gigantic meal.

My parents, Auntie B and I arrived at my Auntie Number Two's place. Auntie B had brought along an old DVD player, insisting to my protesting father that my Auntie Number Two does NOT in fact own a DVD player. As mentioned, Auntie Number Two is incredibly wealthy. Owns a HOUSE, in HK. But no, my Auntie B, insisted, they do not have a DVD player.

Upon arrival, Auntie B and my father, rushed over the the TV, at the bottom of which sat not one DVD player but THREE. Yes, THREE. One was packed in a box, being used as a stand for the other two which sat on top of each other. I won't even venture a guess what they thought those machines were.

Auntie B, slightly put out, insisted on playing the DVD that she brought over for my Auntie Number Two.

It was an aerobics DVD.

I am not kidding. We watched 30 minutes of a woman jumping frantically around a gym wearing enormous white trainers while my Auntie B showed us how to do aerobics. Then we sat down and ate enough for a small village.

I love my family but they are mad, mad, mad.