November 24, 2012

Rabbit Fish Steamed with Tangerine Peel 果皮蒸泥鯭

chinese, Rabbit Fish, Steamed, Tangerine Peel, recipe, steamed fish, 果皮, 蒸, 泥鯭

I've always thought of these little silvery yellow fishes as fishes that should be painted.  So here is my photo version of a fish painting of the delectable rabbit fish otherwise know as the 泥鯭.  This fish is a scavenger fish and can even be fished from the shores of Hong Kong. 

August 3, 2012

Spiced Edamame Soybeans 涼拌毛豆

boiled edamame, recipe, boiled soybeans, chinese, cold dish, edamame, recipe, soybeans, 涼拌, 毛豆

This addictive little spiced edamame dish is soooo easy to make and so yummy to eat that it's unbelievable.  You could make them as one of the dishes for a chinese dinner or you could boil up a pot full and have them around for snacks.  They go great with beer too!  And the little ones love popping the lovely green soybeans out straight into their mouths to crunch on (and it's a great protein source!).

So if you see these fresh at the market grab a bag; I guarantee you'll love eating these green pods as much as we do.

August 1, 2012

Homemade Playdough

how to make playdough, kids, how to make, playdough, recipe

I couldn't resist to throw this playdough recipe into the mix.  After all this playdough that you can make in your own kitchen in 10-15 mins is cooked.  And it totally kicks ass compared to the stuff you pay pretty big bucks to buy:  it's absolutely safe with no weird chemicals, it feels great, it lasts long and you can decide the colors.  If your kid eats it, no problem, it's just very very salty.  

My little girl loves to help me to make the playdough and then we spend long hours making colorful playdoughy cakes and pizzas for all the stuffed critters in the house. (The lil' zebra above is one of her favorites and we are having a birthday party for him.)  So why not try it?  It's so easy and fun and you can save a bundle!

July 28, 2012

Chinese Radish Salad 紅蘿蔔沙拉

chinese, cold dish, soy sauce, salad, radish, recipe, 紅蘿蔔, 沙拉

Here's a cool, crunchy, vinegary dish for the hot Hong Kong summer.  And you can make this Chinese Radish Salad  紅蘿蔔沙拉 in under 5 minutes too.  Isn't it a pretty sight on the dinner table with it's blushing reds and delectable whites? What a charmer, eh?  If you need another dish for dinner during the hot summer, why not add a quick cold chinese salad dish like this?  

Radishes are great for you, lots of vitamin C as well as iron, magnesium and calcium.  My little girl loves this radish salad too!  Pink one, pink one, she says.  Don't worry about the peppery taste of the red radish eaten raw as it will be transformed into vinegary sweet mellowness when prepared into this radish salad.  Hope you like it!

July 16, 2012

Grandma's Zong Zi Meat Dumpling 肉粽子

bamboo leaves, chinese, dragon boat festival, duanwu, glutinous rice, recipe, rice dumpling, salted duck egg, zhong zi, zhongzi, pork, meat, zong zi, zongzi, 粽子, 肉粽子

Zong zi, I think, is love. A tender and lovingly wrapped package of pure love.  Find this hard to swallow?  Prove it to yourself by unwrapping and eating a zong zi, or 粽子, that is laboriously prepared by someone who loves you and see if you don't feel completely satisfied, happy, really loved after that deliriously aromatic, droolingly savory (or sweet) zong zi.  

I know that I had that feeling often enough in my childhood, while happily eating the 粽子 that my dearest grandmother made just for us.  I truly believe, as taught to me first by Tita from the wonderful story Like Water for Chocolate, that the feelings and love that you have inside can be transmitted into the food that you cook and thereby to the people who eat your food.

June 24, 2012

Jellyfish Salad 涼拌海蜇

chinese, jellyfish, jellyfish salad, marinated jellyfish salad, recipe, 涼拌, 海蜇

A really weird yet delicious Chinese delicacy food is marinated jellyfish salad.  That's right, jellyfish, those delicately glowing  creatures of trailing tentacles and mushroom bodies that float like so many deadly but beautiful sea fairies through the ocean's waters.

Humm, how ever did my Chinese ancestors ever figure out you can eat this?  Well, I guess this is just more proof that the Chinese eat everything under the sun!

June 23, 2012

Birthday Cake for my Little Girl

birthday cake, birthday cake for kids, buttercream recipe, chocolate cake recipe, dessert, little girl birthday cake

It was recently my little daughter's 3rd birthday and she decided quite early on that she wanted a birthday party with all the works (...Mommy, I want a birthday dress and birthday cake and party decorations and presents...) just like she always sees in the birthday parties in those endless cartoons she watches.

So with the ridiculous but amazing heroism latent in all mothers, I decided fulfill these wishes to the best of my ability. I mean, my little baby who could barely speak (and walk) just a few mere years ago was now asking specifically in her little baby voice for, among other things, a "birthday cake!"  And on her own initiative!  What kind of mother could possibly refuse?  Even though I am no cake maker by any means.

June 17, 2012

Chinese Pu-erh Tea 普洱茶

chinese tea,drinking chinese tea,普洱茶,Pu-erh Tea,Chinese Pu-erh Tea,
Published: 2012-06-17
Dear reader, if you have never had the experience of '茶', or 'chinese tea', you must try it at once.  There is nothing that can make you feel more authentically 'chinese' than to have a proper cup of chinese tea.  The true chinese sits around all day with a good cup of tea, just as those in the west sit around all day with their cups of coffee.  Ahhh!  A time to relax and contemplate the world.  

Bubbly hot water swirled expertly into the delicate chinese porcelain holding the small handful of dried tea leaves, cover for a minute or so and then lift the lid: poof!, a misty puff of the delicately tender fragrance of chinese tea to please your senses.  Holding your sleeve out of the way (if you have long flowing sleeves, that is) carefully pour out the tea into your teacup, hold under the nose a moment to appreciate the aroma and then take the first carefully appreciative sip.

June 5, 2012

Stir Fry Crabs with Ginger and Scallions 姜葱蟹

chinese, recipe, crab, ginger, scallions, spring onion, stir fry crab, 姜葱蟹

This is the best crab dish.  Bar none.  Even better than the popular curry crab dishes that abound (which I think are overrated anyways).  Just fresh crab, ginger and scallions.  A simple trinity of three foods to create an absolute.  Absolute of taste, that is.  Simplicity and decadence on the same white plate.

For this Stir Fry Crab with Ginger and Scallion, or 姜葱蟹, we picked up from the wet market a mud crab which is a more meaty crab.  But any crab will do for this dish as long as it is fresh. And there are all kinds of crabs, an abundance of choice really, at the wet markets in Hong Kong.  

Ah, to live by the sea!  What a dream come true.  Of sorts anyways.  We have all the seafood we can possibly cook and eat but are stuffed like sardines into shoebox sized homes piled in towering, untidy heaps along a polluted harbor.  Sigh...

May 21, 2012

No Knead Bread | Making Bread in Humid Hong Kong

bread making, ceramic pot, homemade bread, hong kong, humid weather, humidity, making bread, making bread in hong kong, no knead bread

Making your own bread is one of those things where the pursuit of it can easily become an obsession.  As for myself, I wouldn't admit that I'm obsessed with making bread but rather that the idea of making your own bread will obsess me at times.  

Months, even years, will pass, I will solemnly forswear the laborious and not usually very rewarding effort of making bread and then suddenly, boom, it will creep back into my mind, this idyllic vision of a happy house wrapped in the warm wondrous aroma of baking bread that I have made with my own hands.  And suddenly I am in the kitchen again, covered from head to toe in white flour with a happy grin on my face.  

I love making bread, it's really fun in a weird, self torturing way, it's just too bad that my bread usually comes out pretty inedible, actually sometimes as hard as a rock.  But hey, it's definitely useful as a weapon, that's for sure, especially if I've tried to make baguettes shapes.  'Don't make me angry!  You won't like me when I'm angry!'

My very latest round of experiments in bread making is with the famous No Knead Bread recipe in Jim Lahey's book which I finally got around to trying after hearing about it for the longest time.  What an interesting recipe!  No kneading at all, just a little yeast and a long long fermentation time.

May 18, 2012

Blueberry Ice Cream | No Machine Needed

blueberry, blueberry ice cream, homemade, fruit, ice cream, no machine, recipe

Now that the long hot summer is finally hitting Hong Kong hard, it is a perfect opportunity to make lots of ice cream!  What could be better on a hot day than a tasty, sugary, icily cool and smooth homemade ice cream?  Especially, if you ask me, if that ice cream is fruit based.  There's something about the sweet/sour nature of fruit that makes anything fruity to be so refreshing.  

Recently we have tried blueberry ice cream and really, really liked it.  It was easy to make, didn't need egg yolks and was super duper tasty and the most beautiful hue of violet that you have ever seen.  I really like food that looks really amazingly beautiful naturally.  It just looked too gorgeous to eat, really, but what the hey, we ate all of it in a day or so!

April 22, 2012

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

organic strawberries,strawberry tart,dessert,hong kong,recipe,strawberry,tart,mascarpone filling,pasta frolla,mascarpone,

There is nothing as 'summer lovin' as berries and no berry more demurely attractive than the strawberry. And no berry tart more pretty and easy to make than the Strawberry Mascarpone Tart! As the summer rolls around again this year we are starting to see more and more berries of all kinds at the market.

This recipe is another ode to the organic strawberries that we have recently discovered to taste delightfully of "strawberry" as we remember from days of old: fiendishly sweet to the taste and divinely fragrant.  Instead of the regular strawberries nowadays that smell good but taste of nothing.

April 21, 2012

Steamed Shrimp Paste Squid 蝦醬蒸鮮魷

chinese, recipe, shrimp paste, squid, steamed squid, 蝦醬蒸鮮魷

Ah, shrimp paste!  Grayish pink to muddy brown colored paste made of fermented mashed up shrimp.  It looks awfully homely. And what a smell!  When people are cooking with shrimp paste you can smell its distinctive smell a block away. 

When my 老公 was a boy growing up in Canada, his family decided one day to cook a yummy shrimp paste dish for their dinner.  The smell of their delicious stir fry was so strong and I guess so foreign that one of their neighbors took serious offense and threatened to call the police on them. Yessiree bob, that's right, almost arrested over a smell.  What that surely on most other occasions friendly neighbor needed, in my opinion, was a proper dose of perspective.

For example, from my perspective, the smell of shrimp paste wafting through the air makes my stomach clutch in a sudden famish of hunger.  It is a strong smell, yes, but very fragrant and full of the promise of its distinctive taste and aroma. So once your food perspective is transformed by the delicious taste memory of shrimp paste, the strong smell turns from offensive to tantalizing.  You just have to give shrimp paste a fair chance.  

It is interesting to note how many other fermented things, like anchovies or fermented bean curd for example, have a very strong taste and smell by themselves (because of the fermentation) but when cooked with other foods can instantly make a so-so dish spectacular.  And so it is with shrimp paste.

April 15, 2012

Soy Sauce Chicken Wings 紅燒雞翼

chicken, chinese, red cooked chicken wings, recipe, soy sauce, soy sauce chicken wings, 紅燒, 雞翼

Every chinese kid will tell you, soy sauce chicken wings, or 紅燒雞翼, is one of their favorite snacks bar none.  And how could it not be?  Melting from the bone chickeny goodness coated and infused with the aromatically sweet, savory, sticky coating of red cooked soy sauce with a subtle hint of licorice and ginger.  This is chinese snack food at its supreme. Well at least for kids and those of us who still keep their inner kid alive and kicking.  

My family originally being from the Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, we grew up eating this kind of thing pretty much every day, be it red cooked (another name for soy sauce cooking) chicken or beef or pork.  This kind of cooking is more of a northern china kind of thing and since I've been in Hong Kong I have missed it.  

I know, I know, you can find some red cooked meats in Hong Kong too, but, honestly, I don't think it's that good.  It's only so-so on the taste radar.  Usually the flavor's not quite right or it's been sitting around too long.  

So what else to do but make it myself every once in a while to sooth my nostalgic longings.  Beware, though, these little suckers will disappear before you can say "Soy Sauce Chicken Wings"!

New York Crust Pizza Dough

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Because we've been making a lot of pizza, my little girl and I, and having floury fun all over the kitchen, we've managed to come up with an improved version of our previous New York Style Pizza Crust Recipe.  The improved crust is thinner and bakes up more crunchy than the previous pizza crust, even though the previous is pretty darn good already (well, at least we think so).

April 14, 2012

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt - No Machine Needed

no machine needed, organic strawberries, recipe, strawberry, strawberry frozen yogurt, strawberry yogurt, homemade

This is a summer variation on our Cherry Frozen Yogurt that uses organic strawberries instead.   My little girl always asks for this flavor, I suspect because of the beautiful pink color, but also because of the bright summery tang of the lusciously sweet organic strawberries.

For a long time we wondered about strawberries because all the berries we ate, though smelling like strawberries, did not taste like strawberries.  Was our taste memory of sweet summer strawberries just a trick of the mind, a nostalgia propagated illusion?

When we recently discovered imported organic strawberries in Hong Kong that were really quite over priced, we decided to take the plunge and try them.  Finally, here was the proof that we were not losing our minds in our old age!  These strawberries smelled and tasted like strawberries!  Oh they were so good, so delicious and juicy, so real!!  I have to admit that I secretly got a bit teary eyed over the whole thing.  Why doesn't food taste like food anymore?

Easter Eggs - Tiny Eggs for Tiny Tots

Tiny Easter Eggs Quail Eggs

My little girl's third Easter was coming up and she was very excited about it as she was finally old enough to understand the fuss about colorful Easter Eggs and fluffy Easter Bunnies.  We told her that we would make Easter Eggs together and she was very anxious about that.  

Actually I think we told her this a bit too early, ending up with a month of her asking repeatedly when we were to make the "Easter Eggs" and us having to explain about "time" and "dates" and so on, all of which I am pretty sure she didn't understand.

I had never done any Easter Egging myself, having grown up in a pretty traditional Chinese family.  So I began doing some research and found out all about this business of making your Easter Eggs.  It was, to my relief, easier than I thought it would be.  

For a twist I was inspired at the last minute to use a couple dozen quail eggs instead of the traditional chicken eggs which made for super tiny cute Easter eggs that could, after the spectacle of course, easily be peeled and fed to your tot (my girl loves them!) for dinner, lunch, or whatever.  Plus the natural random speckling of the quail eggs really showed up through the dye and made for uniquely patterned Easter Eggs.

March 13, 2012

Buddha's Delight | Luohan Zhai 羅漢齋

buddha's delight, chinese, chinese new year, festival dish, luohan zhai, recipe, vegetarian, 羅漢齋

As with all other aspects of life, for the Chinese even religiosity is tied to their love of food.  This delectable dish is the Buddha's Delight or Luohan  Zhai, 羅漢齋, famous vegetarian fare that traditionally was eaten by Buddhist monks (who, as you know, are forbidden to eat meat).  Nowadays, the Buddha's Delight is a popular festival dish for ordinary folk as well, to particularly be served on the first day of the Chinese New Year.  

For the Chinese, this eating of vegetarian dishes at the very beginning of the new year becomes their act of piety and cleansing.  No church going, no confessions: just the supreme sacrifice of eating vegetarian fare (delicious vegetarian fare, I might add).  For us, however, it was mostly something special and easy yet spectacular to cook up for a simple Chinese New Year celebration at home.

March 11, 2012

Steamed Pork Patty with Salted Fish 鹹魚豬肉餅

chinese, pork patty, recipe, salted fish, steamed, 豬肉餅, 鹹魚

Another entry in our Chinese Salted Fish dishes for the jolly old Salted Fish lover (or bold new adventurer!).  It really is worth exploring Salted Fish, even though it may seem over whelming at first.  I still remember the first time I tried anchovies and thought to myself, whoa, what the heck is this stuff?!  And now I love and appreciate anchovies tremendously.  

Chinese Salted Fish is like that, I think, as are many, many other wonderful foods that you come know slowly, exploring and questioning, until the taste blossoms and you fall in love.  Or at least in serious like.  Really, people nowadays don't have time enough for relationships with their food.  

I did not particularly like Salted Fish at first.  But now?  What can I say... What can compare with the unique taste and texture of this humblest of preserved fish created with mere salt, the loving rays of the sun and Father Time.  Anyways, to celebrate the Salted Fish yet again, we have here another classic Chinese dish, Steamed Pork Patty, paired with the Chinese Salted Fish.  Yummy, yumm, what a rice killer!

March 5, 2012

Steamed Fish with Salted Fish 生死戀

生死戀,chinese,fish,salted fish,recipe,steamed fish,cantonese,chinese salted fish

This dish has the most interesting Chinese name, 生死戀, which is the same as the title of the 1955 movie  Love is a Many-Splendored Thing starring William Holden and Jennifer Jones.  It is a most interesting movie to check out if you are interested in old Hong Kong.  You can see for yourself how different and beautiful Hong Kong used to be.

Anyways, the literal translation of 生死戀, is "life, death and love", referring, I'm assuming in the case of this fish dish, to the "live" (or recently alive) fish on the bottom, the "dead" (salt/sun baked preserved) fish on top and the "love" is their consummation of flavors in this delectable dish.  So I thought it was really cool that this dish and the glamorous Hollywood movie have the same exact name.  What a quinky-dink!  I wonder which came first?

Hong Kong 1950's

March 4, 2012

Chinese Salted Fish 鹹魚

Chinese Salted Fish
Isn't salted fish just so beautiful!?

Hanging from multitudes of ceilings everywhere, dangling in the gentle breeze by twisted bits of red nylon rope, sometimes exposed in all its wrinkled dried glory, sometimes rather politely wrapped up in a a fold of white paper: maybe you have seen them before while walking through streets the older parts of Hong Kong.  The Chinese Salted  Fish, or 鹹魚, is a Cantonese classic, a food stuff of legend.

In the early days, the peoples of the south, being near the sea and thus a plentiful supply of fish, began to salt and dry in the sun the fishes that they caught so as to preserve them for future need.  It became known as the "poor man's food" because a little bit of Salted Fish, being so very salty, goes a long long way with your rice and thus became a firm dinner favorite with the poor population.

February 24, 2012

Garlic Steamed Scallops over Glass Noodle 蒜茸粉絲蒸扇貝

chinese, glass noodles, recipe, scallops, steamed scallops, steamed seafood

One of the wonders of living in Hong Kong is the fresh seafood that you can get here on an everyday basis.  Where else in the world are people so snobby about their seafood that they demand it alive until the moment that it is ready for cooking?!

And so we can go to our local wet markets and find an awe inspiring assortment of the freshest seafood of all kinds on a daily basis.  And so we happened upon a catch of fresh scallops, a huge tank full, still alive and kicking. (Well, not 'kicking' exactly.  I think scallops more likely are 'waving'.) The wet market lady shucked the top shells upon our request and then we were off, laughing with glee at our incredible find for the night's dinner.  

And how to cook this treasure of the seas?  Simply steamed in all its fresh glory of course!  And so we made Garlic Steamed Scallops over Glass Noodle, or 蒜茸粉絲蒸扇貝, where the scallops are steamed til just tender while the garlic and scallop juice infuse the bottom bed of delicate glass noodles with a deliciously fresh and tasty flavour.  And how can you beat serving on the shell for presentation?  Yumm, umm.  Beautiful, delicious and easy to make!