December 29, 2013

Chocolate Birthday Cake | Kid Project

birthday cake, cake, chocolate, frosting, kid, kids, recipe,

I always try to bake and frost a cake whenever family birthdays roll around.  Birthday cakes are always so happily received so I don't mind the time it takes to produce them.  As my little girl has gotten older she's always buzzing around me in our teensy tiny kitchen, wanting to lend a small but messy hand to my culinary endeavors.  Especially around cake baking time.  

So recently, when her daddy's birthday came around, she begged and begged to help with his birthday cake and I thought, why not?  My plan was simple.  Divide the cake batter into three smaller pans, thereby ending up with two cakes for me to stack and frost and one small cake for my daughter to frost all by herself.  That way, I reasoned, my little girl could have fun and we would still have a decent looking birthday cake (mine) to celebrate with.  Little did I expect that my cake effort would pale in comparison to my little girl's cake!

December 28, 2013

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Christmas, cookie, icing, kids, sugar cookies, recipe, christmas cookies

This year for Christmas we made our first real sugar cookies, my daughter and I.  These Christmas Sugar Cookies were not perfect looking by any means, but looked adorable and tasted really great (not too sweet, just right!).  And most importantly, my little girl had a blast "helping mommy" with the all important task of painting the cookies.   These christmas sugar cookies are a great food project to do with kids because, as I discovered, they will look great no matter how they are painted!

December 12, 2013

Steamed Salted Sun Dried Fish 蒸南倉鹽鮮魚

chinese, fish, homemade, salted, steamed, preserved, recipe, sun dried, 蒸, 南倉鹽鮮魚

For a long time I have fantasized about making my own dried salted fishes.  (Very sexy, I know!)  My 媽媽 keeps tantalizing me with stories about when my 爸爸 used to make his own dried fishes (which for some reason I can't remember at all).  She always describes my dad's homemade dried salted fishes as incredibly tasty!  All one would need is a simple mesh structure of some sort, with a door that you could latch securely.  Then, bam!: you could have an endless supply of tasty (and cheap!) gourmet adventures in dried foods.  

Alas for the one simple, sad fact:  we don't have a garden!  Not even a balcony, not in cramped Hong Kong where real estate is at such a premium.  Just a shoebox sized apartment bursting at the seams already with all of our stuff and a teensy tiny, itty bitty kitchen.  So we were very excited recently when my 老公's mother discovered this Salted Sun Dried Fish at the Aberdeen Fish Market.

December 3, 2013

Hairy Crab Vending Machines?!

hairy crab, vending machine
Published: 2013-12-03
Continuing in the spirit of our last post on the delectable Steamed Hairy Crab, we wanted to share some funny news that has been circulating.  There are now Hairy Crab vending machines!  Truely, I kid you not.  These vending machines are showing up in China, in the subways I believe, and they sell live hairy crabs!  Check it out in this video (in japanese):

November 27, 2013

Steamed Hairy Crab 清蒸大閘蟹

chinese, crab, european, hairy crab, mitten crab, netherlands, recipe, shanghai crab, steamed crab, steamed hairy crab,  清蒸, 大閘蟹

Autumn leaves do not fall in Hong Kong (because we have no trees!), but the Hairy Crabs, 大閘蟹, seem to fall out of the sky, carpeting our city streets as the northern winds begin to blow.  Everywhere you look now it is hairy crabs:  the supermarket, the wet market, the street side shops temporarily transformed over to exclusively sell the little mittened crabs.  

These little crabs, distinctive by the brown fur merrily coating their front pinchers, are originally from Yangcheng Lake and Tai Wu Lake (where my daddy grew up!) in Jiangsu province.  Nowadays these hairy critters are the impetus behind a huge annual gastronomic money making affair.  Gastronomic because the hairy crabs are revered for their richly fragrant roe and succulent golden fat.  Money making because the crabs are very expensive, costing from 100-400  HKD each!  

But hey, what's the use of money if we can't use it to satisfy our every culinary desire...

chinese, crab, european, hairy crab, mitten crab, netherlands, recipe, shanghai crab, steamed crab, steamed hairy crab,  清蒸, 大閘蟹
Look at that unctuous crab roe and golden fat!

November 23, 2013

Tofu with Shrimp 蝦仁豆腐

chinese, recipe, shrimp, tofu, stir fry, 蝦仁, 豆腐

Tofu with Shrimp, or 蝦仁豆腐,  is a braised chinese dish that looks deceptively simple but is gorgeous when you eat it.  A soothingly mix of textures: the crunch of the sweet shrimp, the silkiness of the tofu flavored with the sea tastes of the fresh shrimp, the succulently tasty creamy sauce that clings gently to all.  This dish is divine!  

I had forgotten about it for a long time and recently, suddenly, recalled it and made it for dinner.  Yum!  It was one of my childhood favorites at the dining table.  And now, guess what, it seems that my little girl loves this dish too!  She just kept asking for more...

November 15, 2013

Steamed Chinese Preserved Duck Leg 蒸臘鴨腿

chinese, salted duck, recipe, preserved duck, rice, steamed, 蒸, 臘鴨腿

As the winter winds finally creep into Hong Kong after the usual overly long hot summer heat, our minds (and tummies!) begin to drift towards the consideration of warming, comforting winter foods.  

This chinese preserved duck leg 臘鴨腿 is one of our favorites. Raw duck leg is first salted down with spices and chinese rice wine, then hung to slowly dry under the sun.  Wonderfully dense textured, intensely concentrated duck meat flavor, infused throughout with a delectably fragrant oil.  This is seriously good stuff!

November 7, 2013

Fruit Jelly Candies

blueberry, candy, fruit, jelly, jelly candies, silicone molds, recipe, homemade

One never quite believes how much your own child can "love, love, love" candies, as my little daughter puts it.  With tender mother's concern you scheme that you will specially prepare for your kid all kinds of delicious nibbles and treats that will teach them to love candy less.  Which of course doesn't really work as well as you had hoped cuz your kid still "loves, loves, loves" candies.  

So with that humble pie lesson in mind I have been thinking that I can perhaps make candy that is a bit healthier than the candy you buy.  And so, with my little girl's help, we made these surprisingly delicious real fruit jelly candies.  She really loved the fact that she was making candies!

November 3, 2013

Anise Pumpkin Cookies

anise, cookies, pumpkin, recipe, spice, halloween

My daughter and I made a tiny little jack-o-lantern for Hong Kong Halloween.   Then after Halloween was over I felt bad about poor Mr. Jack-O, smiling toothily away, not knowing that we were about to toss him out like a used wash rag.  

So I decided we were to make pumpkin cookies from the ol' fella and even added a twist of our own, making Anise flavored Pumpkin Cookies.  Because I love anise and am always trying to find ways to use that bottle of heavenly liquorice scented anise extract hiding in the cupboard.  Weird sounding combination, but you know what, the flavors really go together!

anise, cookies, pumpkin, recipe, spice, halloween

October 30, 2013

Steamed Dungeness Crab and Egg White 蛋白清蒸珍寶蟹

chinese, crab, dungeness, egg, seafood, recipe, steamed, white, 蛋白, 清蒸, 珍寶蟹
A bit of silky egg white and a bit of luscious crab meat!

We love all kinds of crab in this household, especially Dungeness Crab.  It is one of the few crabs that preserves sweet succulent tenderness while also being quite meaty.  Unfortunately it is quite expensive in Hong Kong.  

Luckily for us, however, my 老公's mother recently arrived from Vancouver, bringing with her two beautiful Dungeness crabs, still alive and kicking!  Since we had two of these lovelies we decided to prepare them different ways to settle an old argument we've been having forever: is it better to boil or steam crab?

chinese, crab, dungeness, egg, seafood, recipe, steamed, white, 蛋白, 清蒸, 珍寶蟹

October 22, 2013

Traditional Taiwanese Cakes

taiwanese, taiwan, cakes, traditional, pineapple cake, suncake
Published: 2013-10-22
My 媽媽 came to us from Taiwan, where she stopped for a while before coming to Hong Kong.  With her came a suitcase chock full of delicious Taiwan snacks and cakes of all kinds.  Here we share about the delicious little cakes that she brought: the Pineapple Cake, 鳳梨酥,  and the Suncake, 太陽餅.  These are traditional cakes that Taiwan is famous for.  As my mom lived in Taiwan when she was young gal, she obviously knew where to go to get the real stuff.  And that, as usual, makes a lot of difference!

October 16, 2013

Hong Kong Hawker Traditional Fruit Candy

hong kong, hawker, traditional, fruit, candy
Published: 2013-10-16
My 媽媽's been in town and we've been doing the Hong Kong tourist thing with her.  At the ever vibrant Temple Market the other night we discovered a sweet old lady hawker selling her Traditional Chinese Fruit Snacks.  Most of which, I believe, she makes herself.  (Which is a big deal these days when most things seem to be made either by machines or by someone halfway around the world.)  

This was so cool that I had to tell everyone about it. It's so, so hard to find these kind of hong kong hawkers anymore.  Old fashioned, homemade hong kong candy!!  Wow, what a treat!

October 6, 2013

How to Fold a Chinese Dumpling 鍋貼包法

How to Fold a Chinese Jiaozi Dumpling 鍋貼包法
guo tie, Fold Chinese Dumpling, chinese, dumpling, pork dumpling, potsticker, wrap dumpling, jiaozi, jiao zi
Published: 2013-10-06
While in the midst of writing my Chinese Potsticker Pork Dumpling 鍋貼 recipe, it occurred to me (and my mom reminded me) that some folks may not know how to fold the chinese dumpling.  There are many ways actually, some more complicated and some more simple.  

I will just show you the way that I usually make my chinese potsticker pork dumplings.  It looks hard at first but once you get the hang of it it's quite simple and, importantly, quite beautiful to look at and eat.

Potsticker Pork Dumplings 鍋貼

chinese dumplings, guo tie, jiao zi, jiaozi, pork, pork dumpling, potsticker, recipe, 鍋貼, 餃子, steamed dumplings, how to make

Yum, yum, yum, yum.  We love potstickers!  You can't eat just one of these little beauties and there's nothing quite like whipping up a couple dozen potstickers to keep in your freezer for, you know, those times when you're gripped with terrible tummy hungry grumbles!  

Would you believe that I can eat a whole dinner plateful of these pan fried potsticker pork dumplings in one go!  And when I was a skinny little chinese girl I could polish off two dinner platefuls!  (Seriously, I tell no lie:  I ate a lot then!)  

But, to be honest, to this day, well actually to yesterday, I have never been quite satisfied with my homemade potsticker pork dumplings.  Yes I know, it's a common dish, a chinese comfort dish even, and everyone and their Chinese mother can make them.  But before yesterday my potstickers have always been a little teensy bit disappointing to me. You know...not perfect, not eat and die from eating this yummy food kind of thing.  

So I experimented:  more fat, less fat, more ginger, less ginger, more mixing, less mixing... Ah! The little quibbles that make cooking at lifetime of fun and frustration.  

So anyways, finally, finally, I think that yesterday I made family cooking history and made a batch of very very yummy potsticker pork dumplings that disappeared faster than I could say "Perfect!"  At last!

September 12, 2013

Pan Fried Pork Patty with Salted Fish 煎鹹魚豬肉餅

chinese, pan fried, pork, pork patty, salted fish, recipe, 煎, 鹹魚, 豬肉餅
Some foods just can't help looking kinda 'meh'.  And you feel sorry for these poor foods...but still try your darnedest to avoid having to eat them.  And then BAM-BOOM, somehow you're forced to take a can't avoid the confrontation...and then it's like what the hey?!  You can't seem to stop eating and eating and eating...!

Well, I had a case like that the other day at a local little Chinese restaurant.  My 老公 ordered a house specialty of pork patties over rice.  When his dinner arrived, a humble looking plate of rice piled carelessly with four meager looking patties, I snickered up my sleeve and politely refused a taste.

September 8, 2013

Red Bean Dessert Soup 紅豆沙

chenpi, dessert, red bean, red bean soup, recipe, chinese, Soup, Tangerine Peel,  紅豆沙

In case you are wondering, this is not really a photo of an actual Chinese Red Bean Soup.  This is a Chinese Red Bean Soup toy which I got for 5 HKD out of a bubble toy machine. (More here about bubble toy machines from which you can get cool food toys!)  Looks pretty delicious for plastic, eh?  

I thought so too, and so got inspired to make the real Red Bean Dessert Soup, a classic traditional Chinese dessert.  This little bowl of sweet yumminess after a full Chinese dinner will hit the sweet spot and round off a pleasant meal.  Red Bean Soup , or 紅豆沙, is easy to make at home and as usual, homemade is way better than the ones you can taste in restaurants and dessert shops.

August 29, 2013

Chinese Pickled Radish 醃櫻桃蘿蔔

chinese, pickled, pickles recipe, pink pickle, radish, recipe, vegetable, 醃櫻桃, 蘿蔔

I think we have been going a bit pickle crazy recently.  But how can you resist the urge to pickle?  Once you get started and see for yourself how easy and delightfully yummy your own homemade pickles are?  We have made Chinese Pickles  酸瓜 and Chinese Hua Gua Pickles 花瓜 and they are sitting pretty in our little fridge.  Homemade jars of pickle are so gorgeous!  I like to take them out just to admire them.  

The other day I happened upon some cherry radishes lying around and I made this easy Chinese Pickled Radish 醃櫻桃蘿蔔.  Now we also have a beautiful jar of pickled radish in the fridge that we can dip into any time for a tart, crunchy, slightly spicy snack.  And it's a PINK PICKLE! How cool is that?!  My little girl definitely thinks it's super cool.  

August 27, 2013

Dried Shrimp Steamed White Rice 蝦乾蒸飯

chinese, dried shrimp, hong kong food, recipe, rice, steamed rice, 蝦乾, 蒸, 飯

One of the many gastronomic pleasures that living in Hong Kong brings is the ease and variety of the chinese dried seafood available.  One need only go to their local wet market or, better yet, to the long stretch of Des Voeux Road West in Sheung Wan which is known locally as 香港海味街, or Hong Kong Dried Seafood Street.  Fascinating to explore even if you aren't there for actual buying; one would never have imagined that there were that many things in the world to dry and eat!?

August 13, 2013

Mango Ice Cream

dessert, fruit, ice cream, mango, no machine, recipe, 芒果, 雪糕

Everyone loves mango.  Even people who are allergic to mango love mango.  Like my mom, who's allergic just to the skin of the mango (kinda weird, but that's what she claims).  She actually makes me peel the mango for her and feed it to her by hand.  Apparently, these extra steps allow her to be released from the allergy towards the mango.  Can you see the lengths that mango lovers will go to?  It's just plain crazy with diced mango sprinkled on top!

But than again, I can totally understand why. Golden and oh so very fragrant!  Sweet with just a touch of sweet sourness, an almost crunchy yet slippery mouth feel, there is nothing like the mango.  Mango is the Queen of fruits.  And how can one possibly resist a queen at the top of her game?

So the other day when I saw a beautiful Taiwan golden mango at the market I was irresistibly pulled into buying it. And naturally after that we made delicious homemade Mango Ice Cream with it.  Ah...these summer fruit ice creams!  They are the reason that I can love the summer...

August 7, 2013

Tomato Egg Drop Soup 番茄蛋花湯

egg, Soup, tomato, Tomato Egg Drop Soup, chinese, recipe, 番茄, 蛋花湯

In our little family we sometimes argue about Chinese food.  Mostly due to the fact that our respective families come from different provinces ( I am from Jiangsu and he is from Guangdong) and that means that we were raised eating different kinds of Chinese food.  

What a lot of people don't realize is that the difference between provinces in China are similar to differences between nations in Europe.  The differences range from extreme (as in I cannot for the life of me understand your version of the Chinese oral language) to vaguely similar (as with Chinese food which all seem to be based on similar ingredients but vary wildly as to the final product).  

So it was with pleasant surprise recently that we came up with the same taste requirements for this wonderful classic Chinese comfort dish, Tomato Egg Drop Soup, or 番茄蛋花湯.  This is a really, really easy light soup that tastes way better than you think it could.  It goes wonderful with a chinese dinner and is dynamite for these hot summer days because it tastes just as good cold as hot.

August 1, 2013

Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad 拍黃瓜

chinese, cold dish, cucumber, recipe, salad, smashed, 拍黃瓜

An easy classic favorite: a cool summery chinese cucumber salad for these long summer days.  People pay bucks for this chinese cucumber salad in restaurants and I'm not sure why.  I've never liked the restaurant versions.  They always seem so sloppily made, you know either too sweet or too sour, or waaay too garlicky (uck, one of the top food sins in my humble opinion).  

Anyways why pay those big bucks for it when you can make it so easily and cheaply at home?  And, believe me, this little chinese cucumber salad, or 拍黃瓜, that you make yourself at home will taste way better than any restaurant version.

July 23, 2013

Chinese Candied Ginger 薑糖

candied ginger, sugar coated, candy, chinese, crystallized ginger, ginger, recipe, 薑糖

The Chinese love ginger when they cook and rightly so.  A bit of ginger makes everything taste better.  Another favorite use of ginger for the Chinese is to expel the cold and inject warmth in the body.  A traditional chinese medicine concept of keeping a certain balance in your body.   

Another favorite way to reap the benefits of ginger is to eat Chinese Ginger Candy, or 薑糖.  A spicy, hot, and sweet treat that is good for your body. (But don't eat too much if you are a "hot" natured body!  It's better for "cool" body types.)

July 22, 2013

Chinese Steamed Pork Patty with Dried Anchovies 小銀魚蒸肉餅

chinese, dried anchovies, pork, steamed pork, recipe, steamed, 小銀魚, 蒸, 肉餅

It's one of those simple homey Chinese dishes that, in theory, seem like a breeze to whip up.  Which it is, really. I mean how hard is a dish like Chinese Steamed Pork Patty?  You just add some seasonings to the ground pork and steam it, right?  How easy is that?  Well, it turns out that Chinese Steamed Pork Patty is one of those tricky little dishes that is easy to make in a so-so sort of way and hard to make in a really good, tasty, lusciously melty sort of way.

Chinese Spiced Beef Shin Shank 滷牛腱

beef, beef shin, chinese, cold cuts, cold dish, recipe, soy sauce, spiced, 滷牛腱, shank

We were thinking about roast beef sandwiches and naturally, this being Hong Kong, could not find any roasting type of meat cuts available. Though it does appear off and on on the supermarket shelves.  Just never when you actually want to buy it.  

So, being frustrated, I had a 'light bulb' and thought of my Mom's delicious Chinese Spiced Beef Shin Shank, or 滷牛腱, that she always makes for us on our visits home.  It is a slow cooked soy and spices flavored shin of beef that becomes deliciously tender and fragrant with beautiful stripes of translucent melty tendons patterning the sliced beef.  Ah, the pleasures of the Chinese kitchen!!

July 8, 2013

Lychee Popsicle 荔枝雪條

fruit, lychee, popsicle, chinese, recipe, 荔枝, 雪條, 冰棍

There's nothing that can cool you down on a hot summer's day like a icy cold popsicle.  I remember traveling in the earlier days in China when there was very little in the way of proper air conditioning (actually not just little but none!) but there was always the red bean popsicle vendor just around the corner.  

Adults and children both would sit in what shade they could find and cool their whole body down by eating the delicious icy treats.  Yummy!  What a fun and natural way to cool down!