By Ellen L.Published: 2014-06-30
Sugar, it turns out, can be not only delectably sweet but also rather interesting in character if you take the time to get to know it better. I used to think that sugar was just sugar. Boy was I ever wrong! Ever since I've gotten interested in trying different sugars (specifically less processed sugar), I've found that every sugar is different, each having a character of its own. Well, except for maybe white sugar, which I find terribly bland now, just sweet and nothing else, which is probably why we don't buy it anymore. But indeed, why would one want to buy plain ol' white sugar when there are so many interesting sugars available nowadays? Take for example, one recent discovery of ours, crystallized Himalayan Wild Honey.
June 30, 2014
June 27, 2014
Hong Kong Style Iced Lemon Tea 香港凍檸茶
By Ellen L.Published: 2014-06-27
In Hong Kong where summers are long, hot and exhausting, there is that one and only quintessential Hong Kong drink that can really quench that terrible summer thirst: Hong Kong Style Iced Lemon Tea, or 凍檸茶. You can order this refreshing drink at almost all local Hong Kong style diners, i.e. cha chaan tengs 茶餐廳. I love this deliciously icy drink enough to miss it terribly when I'm away from Hong Kong. There's really nothing quite like walking into a cha chaan teng, feeling the blast of ice cold air conditioning, folding yourself into one of the tiny booths and slowly drinking up a Hong Kong Style Iced Lemon Tea. The only thing that I don't like is that I know that they probably use high fructose corn syrup for sweetening the tea. Recently as it's been getting hotter and hotter in Hong Kong as the days swing into the long summer, we have been longing for something cool and refreshing to drink at home. So we thought, why not try to make our favorite Hong Kong Style Iced Lemon Tea at home?
June 22, 2014
Red Bean Paste with Vanilla Ice Cream 紅豆蓉雲呢拿雪糕
I have to admit first off that I don't particularly like the sort of weird fusion of foods that abounds today in most smart and trendy restaurants. It's not that I'm conservative about food, I love crazy food! It's just that I tend to find a lot fusion food gimmicky and not really about taste first. Which I don't like. But the thing is I do like weird food combinations! When I was little I remember that I invented (from the assorted odds and ends available in our fridge) a little sandwich spread for myself that I thought was absolutely heavenly: stinky blue Cheese dressing slapped on a slice of bread drizzled generously with honey and then gobbled up. (I know, pretty gross! But it was yummy, I swear!) So recently I found myself puttering about in a fridge again, (my own grown up fridge), and decided to toss together two items that I found in there. To my absolute surprise and yummilicious pleasure I discovered that night that there is almost nothing in the world that goes together better than Red Bean Paste Topped with Vanilla Ice Cream, or 紅豆蓉雲呢拿雪糕: smooth silky vanilla contrasting creamy textured red bean paste, that sublime taste of vanilla perked up by and yet balancing the stronger fragrant beany flavor of the red bean. (Oh shoot, now I'm hungry for ice cream...)
June 18, 2014
By Ellen L.Published: 2014-06-18
This is me at our local Hong Kong wet market, trying to talk to my grumpy old egg vendor. "How much is that?" I ask, pointing to jars of chinese preserved beancurd half hidden behind hanging bits of this and that. "What?" he grumps, not even bothering to look where I am pointing. "Umm...that," I repeat, having inconveniently and momentarily forgotten what Chinese Preserved Beancurd is called in Chinese. He finally looks and snorts in disgust. "Oh, that." he says. "Is that a good brand of preserved beancurd?" I ask, and immediately regret asking this question. (I always forget and ask these type of stupid lecture inspiring questions at the wet market.) I am then subjected to a long lecture on the lost art of food purchasing, our present generation's lack of food knowledge, the meaning of customer loyalty, etc., while the original object of my question, the lovely golden bottle of chinese preserved beancurd, remains cradled gently in the vendor's gnarly old hands. In the end it was worth it all, though, because not only did my grumpy egg vendor graciously give me some great tips on how to buy Chinese Preserved Beancurd, or 腐乳, but also his recommended preserved beancurd was really, really good!
June 15, 2014
Clay Pot Wonton Chicken Soup 砂鍋雲吞雞This really easy classic Shanghai dish is a showstopper at the dinner table, bound to elicit oohs and ahhs of delight both for the awesome presentation and for the yummilicious flavor. Tender melting chicken, flavorful wontons, delicious chickeny soup and broth cooked vegetables. The real secret to this dish is how easy it is to make! You'll be pleasantly surprised just as I was the first time we made this, it just requires a few basics and then you kinda throw it all together and then, TA-DA!, the beautiful, classy Clay Pot Wonton Chicken Soup 砂鍋雲吞雞 is sitting pretty at your dinner table.
June 9, 2014
Chinese Drunken Chicken Wings 醉雞翅
Cooking with Chinese wine has become a fascinating cooking and taste experience, once I got past the memory of once being extremely naively drunk on Mao-tai wine (and up chucking my dinner up on my companion's nice suit jacket! Oh, the follies of youth!) But seriously, the use of wine in Chinese cooking is a real art. It is used everyday for even the most ordinary cooking! There are so many types of Chinese wines: distilled from rice, glutinous rice, wheat, sorghum, millet, ginger, tea, herbs, berries, bamboo and fruits. In our little kitchen we usually have around four different kinds of Chinese wines knocking about. The important thing about Chinese wines to remember is that they have very high alcohol contents (20% to 40% proof) and therefore should be consumed with extreme care if drinking (yup, one lesson this girl has learned!) However when one is cooking, that same intensity will give your food an extra kick of serious flavor layering that is hard to come by otherwise. And thus we come to that perennial Shanghai superstar wine marinated chilled meat dish, the spectacular, the awesome, perfect for summer, Chinese Drunken Chicken, or 醉雞.
June 2, 2014
Grandma's Red Bean Paste 紅豆沙
By Ellen L.Published: 2014-06-02
Red Bean Paste 紅豆沙 is a real favorite Chinese sweet pastry and dumpling filling. I love this stuff! And my grandma's homemade red bean paste was soooo lusciously good! (Chinese chocolate!) And it sure got me hooked on this stuff for the rest of my life. I sometimes will get urges (out of nowhere) to go out and find something with red bean paste in it so that I can stuff my face. Nom, nom, nom! But sometimes I get a bit sad and nostalgic here in Hong Kong cuz, to be honest, it's hard to find good red bean paste pastries and dumplings here. I think the reason for that is that red bean paste is not a favorite in this southern region, lotus paste and black sesame paste being more preferred. (See our posts on Black Sesame Tong Yuan Rice Dumpling Recipe 黑芝麻湯圓 and Make Your Own Mooncakes 雙黃白蓮蓉月餅 for our recipes for black sesame paste and lotus seed paste.) But we solve that problem by making Grandma's red bean paste ourselves now. It's not hard, just takes a bit of time and then you can enjoy the deliciousness of homemade red bean paste for filling all your buns, pastries, dumplings, or just for sneaking secret unctuous midnight spoonfuls. (OMG, my first Nigella reference!)