Monday, November 30, 2009

Minty Fresh Christmas

This is gonna be my shortest post so far.
How adorable are those Eclipse mints cans???!!!

Perfect after a super garlicky Christmas dinner date.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Peking Duck Dinner at Cheung Kee, Wan Chai

We don't really celebrate Thanksgiving in Hong Kong, but yesterday's dinner certainly involves...
- Birds (a couple of them)
- and something extra special to be thankful for (our good friends, Athena & Joe, are expecting their first child! Yay!)

The cold appetizer platter of vegetarian rolls, smoked fish, jellyfish and pork meat. I was so excited about the fish, I quickly bit into them and was not pleasantly surprised with the many many many sharp fish bones. Beware!

The first bird, Shan Dong Chicken was excellent. Juicy, tasty chicken with even tastier sauce. I gnawed on the neck and any remnants my fellow diners didn't consume.

The spicy stir fried string beans (四季豆) was wonderful as expected. I love my veggie spicy.

The braised pork ribs...were out of this world fantastic! Sweet, sticky, tender, juicy!

...and the ultimate birdie of the night...the Peking duck, was rather disappointing. The meat was thin, dry, and the skin wasn't crispy. Absolute nono for a peking duck.

So I cleverly chose the bits with most fat :D slathered the duck, cucumber and chive with lots of hoisin sauce...

Folded and consumed. Noticed how I didn't fold the top? I placed more filling than what the wrap could handle.
As always.

The claypot wonton and vegetables in chicken broth.
Not too bad, but we all prefer the one from American Peking Restaurant.

Scrambled Egg white with Crab Meat. I am not into egg white, but the crab meat and a drizzle of vinegar made it all good. The restaurant won't deliver your orders based on the intensity of flavors, so you gotta eat in a sequence that you prefer. This dish tasted rather bland after all the tasty ducks and meat served earlier.

Stir fried snow pea shoots. Always love this nutty veggie, always look forward to it every winter.

For dessert, we were served this bowl of water and ice, and a tong. Whatever happened, don't drink it and don't dip your hands into it.

They were for this...

Apples and bananas deep fried in batter, dipped into sugar and crystalised in iced water.
Check out those tiny strands of sugar...couldn't help but released some ooohhh and ahhhh, even if we have seen it before.

...and the server will do this...

and you'll get these.
Some of my friends complained that they got soggy ones, but I snatched the one with most sugar, and it cracked wonderfully...

and led me to this soft banana....oh heavens!

I couldn't help but post this photograph.
I had a focusing light jealousy.
Why don't my Canon have this? T_T

To conclude, Cheung Kee isn't bad, but I'd still prefer American Peking Restaurant. Oppps.

Cheung Kee Restaurant
1/F, 75, Lockhart Road,
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 25290707
Wanchai MTR, exit C

We spent about HK$170 per person for this meal.

Check out Athena's
post for this dinner (in Chinese).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Teriyaki Grilled Steak and Fried Rice

"Hello, gorgeous."
"This seat taken?"

I am a snob.
I don't talk to vegetables.
Except when they're still alive in the form of plants, and I am desperately trying to keep them that way.

I just talk to hot pieces of meat, some cool seafood, dark chocolates, and sinful carbs.

Really good versions of the above would turn me into a complete slut...

...and I was totally throwing myself at this teriyaki marinated steak.

Don't even think about it. He is mine.

A hot piece of meat shall never be alone.
It needs a hot tasty carb.

Teriyaki Fried Rice

(serves two)
- 1 cup of rice (I used a mix of white and brown rice), cooked, refrigerated overnight
- 1 small clove of garlic, finely minced
- 2 cloves of shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 sprig of spring onion, chopped
- a little bit of olive oil, teriyaki sauce (Why haven't I bought and stock this in my kitchen earlier? So handy!)
Saute garlic and shallot in hot olive oil, add rice, mix about a little, spread rice thinly on frying pan, drizzle teriyaki sauce, mix well, taste, add chopped spring onion, mix well and serve with...

Teriyaki Grilled Steak

(serves two)
- 1 or 2 pc of steak of your choice
- teriyaki marinate/sauce
- brown sugar
- Japanese chilli powder mix
- a bit of olive oil for grilling

Rub steak with Japanese chilli powder mix and a bit of brown sugar, drizzle teriyaki sauce, let it marinate in the fridge, preferably overnight. Preheat oven to 200C. Heat up a frying pan. Drizzle steak with a bit of olive oil. Place steak on hot pan. for this thickness (about 2cm thick), reduce heat to medium, I grilled it for about 1 minute each side, just to get it browned, and transferred it to oven for about 3 minutes. Let the meat rest for a bit in a warm place, cut into thick chunks and serve with fried rice.

Please excuse me while I lick the steak juices off the plate.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Pepperoni and Cheese

This reminds me of pizza.

A pepperoni and cheese pizza.

Minus the wonderfully chewy and fluffy or crunchy pizza base...
Minus the tomatoey sauce...
with too much cheese...
and not enough pepperonis...

OK it's not a pizza.

But still, they're cheesy, herby, tasty, wonderful, and super sinful. Plus, to make these, I didn't have to struggle with yeast and flour, knead, or fling any pizza dough in the air (as if I could ever do that?)...and risk a major failure.

This dish is a no-failure dish.
Maybe except if you consumed all the cheese and pepperonis even before grilling.

(Serves 4)
- 4 large portobello mushrooms (I got the ones with around 9 cm diameter, they were on sale!), remove stem, clean with paper towel
- mozzarella and parmesan cheese, shredded
- pepperonis
- butter
- italian mix herbs (thyme, sage, oregano, rosemary)

Preheat oven to 250C, lightly butter a baking sheet (I lined mine with foil for easy cleaning), place mushrooms on baking sheet, add a bit of butter on each, pile shredded cheeses (generously), sprinkle with herbs, arrange pepperonis on top (I placed two pieces on each, you can always add more). Grill until golden brown.

One word = Yum!

...and this one reminds me of a creepy, deformed alien with scary eyes.
Sorry for ruining the fun...but I can assure you that this one, despite its fugliness, is still delicious.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dark Chocolate Loacker Quadratini Wafers

As if the dark chocolate milk post haven't tortured you, dark choco lovers enough...
I've purchased another dark chocolate goodies.
This time, it's Loacker Quadratini Dark Chocolate Wafers.
I spotted these baby at Prince's building's Mannings when shopping for...err...secret!
Let's just say...when you're looking for one thing, you might end up with other (better) things ^_^

If you're lucky and this pack is available anywhere near you.
Grab them before they discontinue them.

"Because good things don't last"
Obviously, chocolates did not make me any less pessimisstic.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pan Fried Salmon with Korean Mushrooms and Japanese Creamy Sesame Dressing

I am crap at food styling.

I didn't know what got into me when I decided to place this piece of salmon on one side of the plate, and pour the mushroom sesame sauce forming a weird upside down V-shape. I decided not to show you the big picture because I don't wanna turn you off this yumminess.

I am quite pleased by this week's food experiences.
A quick visit to City Super (armed with a bunch of coupons) scored me quite a selection of stuff I can't wait to try, including these salmon steaks, Korean mushrooms and Japanese creamy sesame dressing.

They're bound to create an easy harmony, I could already hear the melody in my head...(p-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face. Wait a minute. No sorry, that's an entirely different story)

The dish is super easy, the only thing to worry about is the pan frying of salmon. Never, ever leave a piece of salmon on a hot pan when trying to play with the other....or you'll end up with this:
This piece was a bit dry, but the creamy mushroom sauce compensated it.

- 2 pieces of salmon fillet (HK$60)
- 1 pack of mushrooms (I used these cute yellow Korean mushrooms, HK$9)
- 1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small clove of shallot, thinly sliced
- olive oil, salt, black pepper
- Japanese creamy sesame dressing (I bought HK$40 for a bottle, you can select cheaper/more expensive ones)

Cut off the bottom stem of mushrooms, clean them. Prepare garlic and shallot. Saute garlic and shallot in 1 tsp of olive oil, add mushrooms, let them cook until wilted and a bit browned. Pour the sesame dressing generously, add salt/black pepper if desired. Set aside. Season all sides of salmon with salt and black pepper, pour a bit of olive oil and rub them good. Let them sit for a couple of minutes while you heat up your pan (preferably non stick). Once the pan is hot, turn down heat to medium, place the pieces of salmon, skin down. Let cook for 2 minutes, flip once, and remove once it feels done (firm but not too fragile), let the salmon rest for a couple of minutes, pour creamy mushroom dressing and serve. Garnish with parsley if you have them (I didn't T_T).

We had this for a quick weekend lunch, serve this over pasta or your choice of potatoes if you want something more "substantial".

Stay tuned for more ways to use the Japanese creamy sesame dressing.
I think it is also one of those things that taste fantastic on EVERYTHING.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fancy Burger Dinner at Duke's Burger

Yay! Friday night!
It's the night where...I get to dine out.
No busting my brain thinking of what to cook, no cooking, no washing (not that I often wash ^_^, that's sous chef's responsibility).

I was in the mood for some good burger.

Thought about McDonald's or Burger King, but sous chef didn't wanna waste his calorie quota on them. Outback's cheese burger would have been a safe choice for a simple, hearty and juicy burger with delicious fries, but I felt like trying something new.

So, Duke's burger it is.

The place is pretty, somewhere at the obvious corner of Staunton Street, Soho. We got the most conspicuous table of all, right by the street. This is why we should reserve eh? I wasn't exactly planning to see nor to be seen that you can see from the following photograph...

Ew. Sorry for ruining your appetite.

However, the spot was perfect for photography. Food, or any sexiness that passes by (which unfortunately was one T_T).

For those who doesn't do alcohol, try this mocktail, named Temple Street (HK$56). It has grenadine, sprite, watermelon juice and cherry. I can't relate the drink to Temple Street...but whatever. It's quite a refreshing drink, would be perfect for summer.

Sous chef had the Braised Wagyu Oxtail and Iberian Chorizo with Manchego Cheese and Saffron Onion (the first picture of this post), HK$168. Juice squirted out of the burger patty when it was sliced. When I asked sous chef what he thought of his order, he said "not bad". Duh! I tasted a bit of the patty, couldn't taste any chorizo there, the meat was pretty juicy, but, sadly, it could've been a regular ground beef.

I always love my burgers with crispy-outside-fluffy-inside thick cut fries, but I thought I'd give their sweet potato fries a try. It's pretty good, fluffy, sweet and savoury at the same time, but tasted pretty weird with ketchup (served with). Won't order this again with my burger next time.

I ordered their specialty, the Braised US Short Ribs & Truffles with Foie Gras, Haricot Vert and Shimeji Mushrooms (HK$198). When I sliced the patty, again, there was some juice oozing out, so visually, I was convinced. However, the patty wasn't all that. I would probably love to have the braised short ribs not in the form of burger, it dried out a little and not as flavorful as I expected it to be. I hardly met any foie gras I didn't like, and I liked this one too. Both fancy burgers were served with half a bun, which wasn't too buttery nor toasty nor fluffy. Maybe it was the cold weather or where we were seated, but everything went cold almost instantly.

Call me unsophisticated or old fashioned, but I still prefer my good ol' burgers to have two buttery buns, juicy and tasty beef burger patty, with a good amount of melted cheese.
Either pricey fancy burgers are just not my thing, or just Duke's fancy burgers in particular.
Did the experience put me off trying more fancy burgers?
Nope, the quest shall still continue.

Just in case you wanna try...

Update: this place has closed down
Duke's Burger & Grill
5 Staunton St, Central, Hong Kong
Tel. +852 2526 7062

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hot Winter Drink - Ginger, Palm Sugar & Clove

OK, Hong Kong is currently experiencing the coldest November in...hmm...many many many years.

It's on the news.
It's what people talk about.
It's become the standard greetings...

"Morning. Isn't it cold?" (while making a dramatic hand gesture to the air)
"Morning. Gosh, aren't you cold?" (staring at exposed boobage/thigh)
"Morning. Oh, you live in the New Territories (patronising once over), must be cold out there eh?"
"Morning. No, I've moved to ..*insert a fancy schmancy city flat name here* it isn't that cold"
"Morning. Oh, can't wait for my (expensive) exotic tropical island getaway (which will only happen next summer, but tried to make it sound as if it is happening tomorrow)"

Enough already!

I get it! It's cold!
It's still only a little below 10C, people!
Relax and drink your hot drinks...

This time, it's something exotic, something spicy (unlike me).
A little Chinese, a little Indonesian (just like me).

It involves ginger, clove, and this...

Indonesian palm sugar.
They aren't so hard to get. In Hong Kong, you can get these babies at any Indonesian grocery shops (they're all over the city) easily. Much easier than finding a plate of decent scrambled eggs in local char chan tengs.
These babies are mildly sweet, very coconutty with a hint of smokiness.
Perfect for making exotic food and desserts....when I am in the right mood.

Now all I want is to drink something sweet, hot and gingery.

It's so easy, I can't believe I am writing this down. Feel free to adjust the amount liberally, I know that sweet for me is probably bland in your books. Bring a couple cups of hot water to boil (you can make more and refrigerate), I made about 4 cups. Then throw in the rest of the ingredients, used about 5 cm ginger (peeled, sliced and crushed), 4 pieces of palm sugar, 2 tbsp of sugar, and 3 pieces of cloves. Feel free to add nutmeg and cinnamon etc. If you're in the mood for something creamy, add coconut milk. Whatever makes your toes curl, baby.

The palm sugar is pretty grainy, so don't forget to pour the drink through a sieve before serving.

Now that I'm all warmed up...I want ice cream.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicken Franks and Zucchini in Japanese Instant Tomato Sauce

In my city, quick doesn't cut it. We want things instant.

Instant noodles, ding-a-meal (to ding = to heat using microwave, Hong Kong slang), fast food restos which slam your orders down the table even before you finish uttering them (except KFC. Hong Kong KFC is slow), MTR trains arrive and gone before you figured out where you're going....they're beyond fast, they're instant.

Good for me, as I am one good ol' impatient bitch.

There are so many obvious reasons why I should love instant sauces, but there is one reason why I hate some of them. I hate it when flavors had been compromised too much, it diminishes the benefit of convenience.

I've bought a pack of Japanese Instant Tomato Sauce, let's see how it did.

The packaging does look appealing....plump, shiny, dewy red tomatoes glistening in front of some cute Japanese fonts. I was so sold!

All I did were chopping up some chicken franks (I allowed 2 chicken franks per person), a large zucchini and slicing an onion. I sauteed the onion in olive oil, add chicken franks until they are browned a bit, add zucchini, add hot water as instructed in the package, add the instant sauce cubes, sprinkled some freshly ground black pepper and served the dish with steamed rice.

It looked gorgeous, didn't taste that bad....but I can't get over its corn starchiness and the deep red stain it left on my bento box.

Hello, food coloring. Goodbye, not looking forward to see you again anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Easy & Refreshing Pineapple Fried Rice - for You, on the Other Side of the Globe

Clad in my turtle necks, jackets, scarves, tights and boots (Oh, lighten up, Hong Kong! It's only 12C!)...braving the chilly breeze as I pranched from Central to Admiralty for my lunch time stroll after devouring my lousy microwaved lunch box, I couldn't help but think of those who are currently sweating profusely in 30something degrees Celcius heat.

So, here's something easy and refreshing for those who are on the other side of the globe.

- 1 cup of rice (I used a mix of white and brown rice, chewy, perfect for fried rice), cooked and refrigerated overnight
- 1 cup of pineapple chunks (fresh is best, canned works too), if you're using canned pineapple, drain
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 small red chilli, chopped (or adjust based on your heat tolerance)
- fish sauce, pepper, olive oil
- crispy shallot (easily found in major supermarkets in Hong Kong)
- a couple sprigs of fresh corriander, chopped

In a non stick pan, saute garlic, shallot and chilli in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add pineapple chunks, add rice, season with fish sauce and pepper, mix well, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add freshly chopped corriander, give it a quick mix, serve with crispy shallot.

Sweet, sour, savory, hearty...refreshing yumminess!

Now let me get back to shivering at work while you wipe sweat off your forehead and sip your pina colada.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake from Mrs.Fields

Good stuff are...
a. to be shared?
b. all mine!

Normally, when it comes to food, especially fried chicken, chunky french fries and anything that involves dark chocolate, I am totally a "b" person.

But I have to make an exception for this one, because, if no one knows about this, no one would buy this, and Mrs.Fields will stop making these. Thus, I have to let people know how good these are.

It is...
- Not a cheesecake
- Soft, moist and fluffy
- Very chocolatey
- Not too sweet
- Melt in your mouth fantastic!
- With bits of creamy and savoury cream cheese
- Doesn't break my bank, at just HK$18 per piece!

I bought this for a get together with a girl friend, almost placed the cake on a beautiful ceramic stand and called it my own...then I realised, my friend knows my baking skills (or lack there of ) very well and I won't be able to fool her. Damn.

If this is available near you, and you haven't tried it....

Mrs.Fields didn't pay me to write this.
Sous chef I totally paid for the cake.
Find Mrs.Fields shop nearest to you here

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mushroom Risotto - Where Can I Buy Patience?

This dish really needs a whole lotta was the wrong dish for someone so impatient (not me. hmm..ok, me).

Why did I even try?

I've tried a couple of pricey risotto dishes from some fancy restaurants...and I was unhappy with their mushy, bland, flavorless rice. I wonder if it's really that difficult to make.

I thought all I had to do was dump the rice + the rest of the ingredients into my rice cooker, leave it cooking while I watch Top Chef/Master Chef/Project Runway online/bite my fingernails/do nothing/munch on chocolates/day dream/annoy the heck outta sous chef...while smelling wonderful scents of mushrooms from the rice cooker...and when I heard the "ding"!...I'd open my rice cooker to see a pot of steaming hot, flavorful, delicious, wonderful, gorgeous, perfectly al dente mushroom risotto.

I should've probably gone for those instant microwaveable risotto eh?

Oh gosh...
Here are the ingredients...there aren't many. This is probably why I thought it was gonna be easy.

- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cups of fresh shitake, sliced
- dried Italian mixed herbs (sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary)
- about 2 cups of chicken stock
- salt, black pepper, olive oil
- white wine (I used whatever it is available in my fridge)
See my ghetto way of sealing wine bottle...cling wrap + rubber band = not good.

I couldn't help but photograph the rice...look how cute those small grains are. I haven't used this kind of rice before...they look similar to normal white rice...but just in creamier color...

...and the ever so photogenic shitake...

Oh, man, what have I got myself into?

In a frying pan, saute garlic and shallot in a bit of olive oil, until fragrant and the shallot turns translucent. Add sliced mushrooms, add white wine, season with salt, pepper and mixed herbs. Cook until you don't taste alcohol in the wine, set aside.

Then, heat up chicken stock in a pot. Once the stock is hot, place rice in another pot and pour a bit of chicken stock, start cooking.

Once you see that most of the chicken stock has been absorbed by the rice, add more chicken stock, not too much a at time. Shake the pot to help the rice absorb the stock.

Forget soap operas, filing your nails, etc. Expect to do this pouring-stock-and-shaking-pot for quite a while (about 30-40 minutes). Don't do this in's beyond torturous.

You'll see the volume of the rice increasing...when it's almost there, add the mushrooms with its cooking juices in.

It's done when the rice's done. Creamy but firm, not hard, not mushy.
Let the risotto sit for a bit, and serve.

Is it worth all that trouble? In winter, yes. Yum, oh yum!
In summer? Oh, puhleeze.
Remind me never to do that again.