My 15 seconds of fame!

Okay, so this is the first time I’ve ever been quoted as a dietitian and I’m going to flaunt it just this one time because I might not ever get quoted ever again…!

DAA quoted me on their Facebook page today!

DAA Facebook quote

I also just searched for my name together with ‘dietitian’, and it’s all over Google!

So here’s the tip to getting famous: fill out surveys from DAA! Just kidding 😛

On DAA documents:

Australia’s Three Worst Diets Shunned by Nutrition Experts
http://daa.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Australias-three-worst-diets-shunned-by-nutrition-experts-FINAL.pdf

Top 50 Fad Free Diet Tips from DAA Members
http://daa.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Top-50-fad-free-diet-tips-from-DAA-members_2013.pdf

Healthy Cooking Tips
(another quote as a suggestion for healthy cooking tips, but isn’t quite as famous…!)
http://daa.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Background-Healthy-cooking-tips-FINAL.pdf

There are some other really good tips on healthy eating in the documents from other dietitians too.
External links that quoted DAA:

http://ahha.asn.au/news/australia-s-three-worst-diets-shunned-nutrition-experts
http://www.itsmyhealth.com.au/healthy-living/weight-management/worst-three-diets-of-2012
http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/news/worst-diets-shunned-by-nutrition-experts/18263
http://www.expertguide.com.au/news/article.aspx?ID=1505
http://www.motherpedia.com.au/article/62506/the-3-worst-diets-for-2013
http://tamborinedailystar.com/Home/OfftheHill/tabid/279/ArticleID/2007/Default.aspx
http://myhealthyfamily.com.au/5-ways-to-ditch-the-diet-in-2013/
http://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/news/three-diets-to-skip-in-2013
http://www.mumsdelivery.com.au/news/diets-to-avoid-in-2013/
http://marketing4models.com/Diets/worst-diets-shunned-by-nutrition-experts/
http://www.seniorau.com.au/index.php/more-seniorau-news/3431-three-worst-diets-shunned-by-nutrition-experts
http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE|A319130348&v=2.1&u=c_hrca&it=r&inPS=true&prodId=HRCA&userGroupName=c_hrca&p=HRCA&digest=608852c2ef4f34aa0546455c9af7893d&rssr=rss
http://womanbuddy.com/content/unhealthiest-diets-revealed
http://www.sj-foodmachine.com/article.asp?id=63

Blogs:
http://www.fernwoodfitness.com.au/weight-loss—exercise/weight-loss/dodgey-diets-you-need-to-avoid/
http://femaleweight.com/?p=4416
http://besttruehealth.com/nutritional-supplements/long-term-high-protein-diet-increases-cvd-risk/
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?id=266166676828833&story_fbid=269171406543409 (The Global Institute for Life & Leadership through Seafood)
http://dietsforhealth.net/worst-diets-shunned-by-nutrition-experts/

No names to the quotes but still quoted haha!

http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2013/01/15/australian-dietitians-label-the-%E2%80%98lemons%E2%80%99-in-list-of-worst-diets.html
http://www.sheknows.com.au/health-and-wellness/articles/961253/do-you-need-to-detox
http://www.destinationfood.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Destination-Food-January-eBroadsheet-2013.pdf
http://www.lifestyle.com.au/health/why-nutrition-experts-are-shunning-detox-diets-and-cleanses.aspx
http://womansday.ninemsn.com.au/healthanddiet/diet/8590885/the-three-unhealthiest-diets-revealed

Okay, back to being humble again… so much to learn as a new graduate! I’m packing for Singapore and it’s quite a big move…

Hopefully this mass media will overtake the silly fad diets out there for a greater focus on healthy eating in 2013…

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Baked Pork Chop with Egg Fried Rice, Onion and Tomato (焗豬扒飯)

Apologies for my 2/3 year hiatus from the blog… Don’t worry, I’m still the ardent foodie I was before, still loyal to frequenting my favourite food blogs, partaking in new food adventures and trying new recipes.

I’m really surprised that my blog views haven’t declined over these months, and even has been escalating! (the sharp drop is because we’re only midway through May)… I was predicting the blog would eventually dwindle into a void of nothingness as I haven’t updated it for so long. I guess it might be because Google leads a lot of people here. This might motivate me to update it more frequently and write in a better quality (this post doesn’t reflect the best of my standards, by the way, as I’m feeling a bit rushed to start studying for exams coming up!), maybe even develop a fan base (highly unlikely with the poor quality of photos and infrequent posts haha!)

It’s really not so easy to update this blog. First of all, pictures are important in a food blog. More important than whether the recipe itself is worthwhile; because imagery sells. You don’t see famous food blogs with substandard photography. Unfortunately, I am neither endowed with photographic talent nor a good SLR, plus the fact that I usually cook dinner, which means the lighting makes the food look horribly unphotogenic and looks quite unappetising reheated as leftovers the next day.

Another reason is that I’m simply lazy. I’ll try to rectify that, surely it would be good for my studies as well. Oh, about studies… I’m in my second year of N&D now. It’s getting interesting, but also getting harder. I’ll write about it in another blog post. Right now, I just want to get into the food!

This recipe is one of those really excellent ones that fail to disappoint. I’ve cooked this for my family as well as several ‘visitors’ (mum’s friends) and they always gorge themselves on it, not having enough room for any fruits/desserts. You can’t really blame them (and me): it’s just like the ones you get in Cha Chaan Tengs (茶餐廳) in HK, but even better because it’s not drowning in too much cornstarchy sauce, or lacking in meat/vegetable ingredients (and filled only with rice). The dish is made up of a (one-dish-meal) medley of lightly fried rice as the base (I also stirred in some vegetables (including frozen vegetables)), topped with fried pork chops (flavoured with ginger and garlic, lightly crumbed if desired (I did in the photos shown)), with pre-cooked sauce of tomatoes, onions, capsicum, ketchup and worcestershire sauce poured over to seep into the meat and rice. Really, it’s the sauce that makes the dish as amazing as it is. Grated cheese can be sprinkled on top, and the whole concoction placed into the oven to bake until the top is browned. I got this recipe originally from my uncle, but have since tweaked it very much with other recipes I’ve found on the internet.

Granted, it is a very time-consuming recipe, so save for weekends.

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Baked Pork Chop with Egg Fried Rice, Onion and Tomato (焗豬扒飯)

3-4 eggs (beaten with salt and pepper)

1 ¾ cups (2 ½ rice cups) raw rice (or a large bowl of leftover rice)

400g boneless (3-4) pork scotch fillet/(half a piece of) pork loin chop

(Whichever is preferred: Skotch fillet has CT, pork loin has less CT)

1 medium onion (peeled, stems cut, sliced thinly)

3 large tomatoes (sliced thinly)

1 clove garlic (minced)

Optional vegies (chopped): mushrooms, capsicums, carrots, peas, baby corn etc.

(optional) ½ cup mozerella cheese

Marinade: a little light soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, (optional) 1 clove minced garlic, 1-2 tsp grated ginger

Sauce: 4-5 tablespoons ketchup or tomato paste, 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 1 tablespoon light soy sauce (don’t use dark: sauce will be ugly!), 2-3 tablespoons sugar, dash sesame oil, black pepper (mixed in a bowl)

Method

  1. Cook rice as usually. Put into an oven-proof dish and cover to retain heat.

  2. Scotch fillet: Use knife to ‘squash’ the fillets on both sides, using criss-cross patterns. Cut fillets into halves. Pork loin: slice into 0.5-1cm slices across the grain, then cut in half to shorten.

  3. Marinate pork 30 mins.

  4. Preheat oven to 200°C.

  5. (optional) Just before cooking, pour some of the beaten egg into the fillets to coat them evenly, then dredge each fillet individually into plain flour or dried breadcrumbs.

  6. Heat a generous amount of oil in a large flat wok over high heat.

  7. Place however many fillets fit onto wok, arrange so all surfaces touch the wok. Pan-fry over high heat (or medium, if it burns), flipping fillets over occasionally. Pork should be hard and springy if it is all cooked, and browned on both sides: test by poking with chopstick. When a fillet is cooked, remove from the pan, continuing to add more uncooked fillets. (optional) Cut the cooked fillets into 3cm wide strips.

  8. Heat oil in pan over high heat. Scramble eggs until half cooked, then toss in the rice. Stir-fry quickly (then add a little soy sauce if desired), then place into an oven-proof baking dish, cover with a lid to retain heat.

  9. Heat oil in wok over high heat. Fry onions and garlic (plus hard to cook vegies eg. capsicum) for 3 minutes until browned, add tomatoes (and optional vegies) and saute a further 3 minutes, until tender. (optional: Take out 1/3 or 1/2 of the vegetables to stir into the rice.) Add the sauce ingredients and let it simmer over low heat for 3 minutes. If sauce is watery, thicken with cornstarch and water, if too dry, add water.

  10. Lay pork chop in one layer over fried rice, evenly pour the sauce over this.
  11. (optional) sprinkle cheese over the top.

  12. Bake for 10-15 minutes uncovered, until top is browned.

Source: Lobus Kaufu and http://en.christinesrecipes.com/2008/09/baked-pork-chops-with-rice-classic.html

Rating: *****

Search terms

Funny. These are the phrases that people get to my blog from search engine results, of course, sifted through to find the most amusing ones. (text in brackets is my own commentary) A bit silly, but I’m getting swamped with uni work and a bit of comical humour is always nice. And there’s a cool website that can convert any mundane text such as this into a graphic design masterpiece! http://www.wordle.net/

Picture 1

November 2008-July 2009
November: first touch with the alphabet,  australian alphabet soup,  hello alphabet soup

December: distribution taste buds tongue, “healthy” “mind” “diet”, curry soup, rolling stones early stuff, albert einstein tongue

January: art of kagaya, taste buds on my tongue is raw (oh really?)

February: 咕嚕肉 hand writing

March: slight tongue burns, pictures of healthy/unhealthy eating for (yeah, my blog does have a juxtaposition for a fair few of those), vegemite pancakes (yuck?!), moist kitty tongue, taste buds going crazy (haha), eat explode stomach, tasting dan dan noodles, anthropology family recipe, msg at palace chinese restaurant sydney, haw [sic] to make fried rice, scallop shield with fish, is roasting marshmallow on stove bad? (I hope not. XD) , art in marshmallow (that would be lovely… creating masterpieces from melting marshmallows), “carrot used to describe incentive,potato” (what’s this? like the thing they do with donkeys?), “she inflated, and her stomach exploded.”, yum cha kitchen to seating ratio

April: roasting marshmallows on gas, burning spear, anatomy chicken ear (hm.), japanese eating teriyaki faeces (?!!), true story about taste buds at the back (tell me! oh do tell me about the true story!), manatee, 10,000 things to do with cream of mushroom (wow.), how to cure burnt taste buds (I’d like to know too. ice cream apparently, deceivingly offers no alleviation), marshmallow monkey, marshmallow explosion

May: “see through ceiling” (awesome. can that be in my bedroom?), snoppy burning marshmallow (haha, I’d like to see him do that), avoid hardening of marshmallows when roasting, exploited ginger (oh the poor ginger is getting exploited!), exploded taste bud on tongue piercing (ow), sydney haymarket greasy spoon, how long do taste buds last- 10 minutes? (what? where do people get these notions from?), edible string made of marshmallows

June: fat ginger actor, silkie chicken (and not ‘silky’.. apparently silkie is a type of chicken), oxford dictionary spelling of dietitian (I think they spell it with a ‘t’ and not a ‘c’ as the main one), one ordinary marshmallow (poor ordinary marshmallow…), vegetables hands (now wouldn’t that be nice? we can just eat ourselves!), don’t eat the marshmallows korea (why? I can just imagine somebody in slow-mo soccer defending footage of a marshmallow hurled towards Korea, protecting the country from this most ghastly monstrosity), monk kok obscure food, who roasted the first marshmallow (I’d like to know too), crab eating marshmallow, taste buds only taste pork (now that would be terrible), leaching australian seeds, tender buds chemistry blogs (yeah, little kids sure like to make chemistry blogs), first australian to roast a marshmallow, barbecue marscmellos, taiwan pancake made of rabbit poo, recipe cloud in cream (doesn’t that sound lovely?)

July: custard prestige (I can just imagine a pan of custard crowned with gold amongst a backdrop of luxurious prestige of awards), burnt rice, can chickens eat jackfruit, pasta chemistry (My first result: “Occurrence of protein-bound lysylpyrroaldehyde in dried pasta…”), make marshmallow mushrooms (doesn’t that sound adorable? When I was a kid these were two words I got confused…among many other embarrassing ones…), seafood stylists (can you imagine a crab with sunglasses, or octopus with gold studs on tentacles? I can.), images of rice in fibrous root,  how to get jackfruit resin off your hand (I’d like to know too), thousand layer pancake (what’s this?), fried tofu with molten liquid inside

Also, funny link from a discussion forum to my blog:
http://coquinaria.it/forum/showthread.php?t=100561
“purtroppo blog che parlano dei marshmallow arrostiti ne trovo solo in inglese. Perdono!!!” (translated from Italian) “Unfortunately blogs talking about marshmallow roast will find only in English. Pardon!”

Writing food reviews

Although there are quite a lot of people who like to eat, and quite a lot of people who like to write, not many people like both. Eating is a rather sensual and worldly affair, distinct from the interests of literary folk who are often more concerned with deeper, more profound, metaphysical issues. So outstanding food bloggers are rare, and you find that when browsing through the food blogosphere, the same ubiquitous names pop up everywhere (101 Cookbooks is an example: iGoogle has even set it as the default for the recipes tab, and nearly every food blog has placed it on their blog list, puzzling me at first since it was always listed prominently at the very top, then I realised it was because of its numerical beginning!).

I never knew it takes so long to write up restaurant reviews… I say, on average, it takes about 40 minutes to write up a review for one restaurant… it’s probably because I’m trying to remember back to such a long time ago (well, in part due to my procrastinating tendencies..), googling for their online menu, looking through photos in an attempt to treat food as an artwork (and translating that into words!), fumbling over the adjectives to use to describe something as subjective as taste, searching the thesaurus to avoid repetitive and lacklustre descriptions, researching the restaurant/food to get some inspiration for story-telling and finding diplomatic ways to express any criticisms. I guess, particularly for the first point, that’s why it’s smart for people to write down little comments/notes when they’re actually in the scene of the restaurant? But the downside to that is that while I’m there, I want to concentrate on the food and have fun with it, rather than getting bogged down with having to write down things. I guess that also explains why I enjoy writing restaurant/food reviews: because I can recount the pleasurable encounters I have had with food glorious food!, rather than finding ways to critique it, and also because it’s a creative outlet for me.

Well… now I know I’ll never want to become a professional restaurant critic! Yet I find it strange that, as someone who is a proud aficionado of art, I did not start up an art blog.

It’s not that I enjoy food more than art; it is hard to compare things that way. But with art, it invokes such emotional, subjective responses, and in such intangible ways that it is hard, nay, almost impossible, to express with words. I also have many many more encounters with food than with art, and that is also true for the rest of the population, so it gives a lot more room for connection. Food is, I admit, much easier to talk about than art, which requires lengthy investigation into the context, motives, symbolism, etc. of the artwork, rather than the simplicity of food. Lastly, there isn’t much out there about restaurants or particular food types (aside from the occasional magazine/food blog articles), but when you type in the name of an artwork into any search engine, you are inundated with a flood of reviews/critiques; so food gives me a little niche to write about, something that has not been explored as much, something that is flexible and subject to change.

Well, that’s enough of my ponderings… better get back to study! (four exams in the coming week…)

Feast in Hong Kong (Feb 2009) III – Restaurants Part 3

Here is the long-awaited (not that I am implying anybody is waiting for it!) second half of the restaurant series in Hong Kong. This is 2623 words long, over the word limit for my current assignment on privatisation of health services. (seriously, how do they expect me to discuss such a complex issue indepth with such a constraint of word limit, when I can easily write so much about something as simple as eating!??)

Lamma Mandarin Seafood Restaurant (Peach Garden Seafood Restaurant 世外桃源海鮮酒家) (Lamma Island)

If you’re a nature lover in need of a respite from the metropolitan buzz of downtown Hong Kong, the outlying archipelago are the perfect sanctuaries. Only a short boat cruise away, peaceful scenery, meandering hiking trails, quaint villages, traditional farming fields, charming fishing boats, with not a car in sight and fresh seafood awaits you. Enchanting historical remnants of Hong Kong have been preserved in these isolated old-world islands.

Pretty ain't it?

Pretty ain't it?

One such island is Lamma Island 南丫島. Departing the ferry, you are greeted with a continuous strip of seafood restaurants, all overlooking the harbour with plastic dining tables and fluorescent lighting. Rows of fish tanks piled one on top of the other cover the shopfronts forming square mosaics, some even have underground pools, and I wonder if there have been anybody careless enough to step into them?! Competition is fierce among the restaurants, and the waiters always advertise (pester) passers-by.

The Rainbow Seafood Restaurant is traditionally the most eminent, with their windows adorned with a photo entourage of celebrities ranging from Joey Yung to Martin Yan, and I do remember last year, the meal I had was very delicious. However, my dad insisted that it was overpriced and so went to this restaurant instead, which has a very interesting name: (translated) Otherworldly Peach Garden Restaurant. We were lucky enough to procure a seaview table, and despite the discouragement of the waiter, we got the set meal for three (I didn’t know why they said the set meal isn’t good: later my aunty explained that of course they wanted us to order separately since they would make more profit!).

lammaislandseafood1

lammaisland2The whole meal costed around $HK300+ from what I remember. It had several dishes, some of which I have forgotten. There was garlic and chilli prawns (prawns were so flavoursome!), deep-fried garoupa (amazing: super crispy batter with a tender meat), fried rice (most people can make fried rice, but only the skilled can make it taste really good), whole crab (sauce wasn’t anything special, but crab was fresh… I don’t like poking, prodding, cracking and sucking the meat out of the shell though!), and the standard dish of vegetables (lettuce I think). In the end, we finished off by ordering an abalone dish: $HK30 each abalone, which came in its shell with a simple sauce and dried tangerine peel. I didn’t think I would like it, but it was

Abalone

Abalone

so succulent yet chewy textured, and a wonderfully light seafood sweetness, complemented perfectly with dried peel (even though I usually hate that!). So if you’re looking for a fresh, exquisite seafood dinner, look no further than Lamma Island.

Food Republic (Tsim Sha Tsui and Taikoo Shing)

(another review)

A chain of food courts that originates from Singapore, Food Republic is inspired by local hawker fare (Wikpedia, 2009): an impressive variety of ‘fast food’ stalls from a wide array of cuisines. Not surprisingly, there is HK cuisine and other regional varieties of Chinese cuisine, but also Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Indian…  Typically, I spend over 30 minutes walking around trying to make a decision from the abundance of choices, especially because it seems like all the outlets are of high quality and relatively cheap.

Amos and I had been walking around the Art Museum in TST and figured this place would be great for a cheap feed. This time, I had Japanese pancake and foodrepublicomusoba, around $HK25-40 (the price has completely slipped out my mind). It was very tasty, but the Japanese pancake was pre-made and not hot, and consequently not soft enough, but filled with tasty cabbage and other fillings. I love the cute bonito flakes that squirm around like a gymnast’s cloth swirling around over the lingering warmth, and one must admit it is hard to go wrong with something as deliciously simple as omusoba (ketchup and Kewpie mayonaise helps too 😉 ).

Le Petit Bistro (Sham Shui Po)

Escargot

Escargot

Tucked into a street that gives an industrial atmosphere, this French restaurant is owned by my aunty’s relatives (again!). Not exactly authentic French food, but I hear that some of the ingredients are sourced from France, and the cosy atmosphere makes it a pleasure to dine in. The set menus are the best value: soup, entree, main and dessert for $HK80?, with cream of spinach (not cornstarchy, but made with real cream!)/tomato boullion (I do remember eating a mussel broth last year which was fantastic), pan-fried duck breast salad/escargot atop mashed potato for entree (not the most photogenic of foods, but it’s tasty, and not slimy at all!), a large range of hearty mains (many pastas, I ordered a creamy fettucine), and dessert of which I highly recommend the baked chocolate mousse: slightly charred, chewy layer that cracks to reveal a hot, creamy and airy sighs of chocolate mousse within; it’s a delightfully enchanting treat. Other picks include butter-sauteed button mushrooms (butter and herb go together like (wait.. thinking of a witty analogy here… yes…still thinking…), okay.. you know what I mean…

lepetit2

Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐 (Tsim Sha Tsui)

dintaifung

As a sequel to my trip to this acclaimed restaurant chain in Sydney, my foodie aunt brought me to Din Tai Fung in Tsim Sha Tsui, the only one store in Hong Kong. The decor was not as embellished as Sydney’s, being less modern and more traditional, and it was located on the top floor of the shopping centre which they exploited with a continuous wide window offering a panorama of the multi-storeyed building from above.

A word of advice: come early to avoid the rush! We arrived at 12 or so, and it must have been a slow day, because there were actually seats remaining the hour later when we left, unlike Sydney where there was a long queue (the restaurant here was, smart of them, much larger than Sydney’s). Browsing the menu, we decided to (of course) order the signature xiao long bao, as well as some other dishes. Xiao long bao was just as good as Sydney’s standards (if not better… I don’t know, that’s what you can probably assume considering Hong Kong is supposed to be more expert when it comes to food?), but the highlights for me were the other foods.

din-tai-fung

A very distinctive entree was the ‘shredded special vegetable and tofu’ (translation is probably off), which wasn’t offered in Sydney’s branch. Tiny pieces of minced firm tofu and the ‘special vegetable’ (don’t even know the name in English! Must be a rather rare plant) flavoured with sesame oil and adorably moulded as a dome. The taste was very unique, resembling the dintaifung3taste of spinach, but with a slightly crisp texture rather than gooey (it’s not raw), the mouthfeel was great: cold and refreshing with a big surface area to savour the sensation. Taiwanese-style dan dan noodles came next: a neat bundle of lai mein (拉麵) surrounded with a rich, spicy peanut sauce sprinkled with ground peanuts. It was a lovely explosion of intense peanut flavour, with sweet, spicy, savoury and nutty notes playing together. I really lked the smoothness of the springy noodles and the silky, sticky sauce that coated it. One thing I recommend though, don’t ask for ‘less spicy’ unless dintaifung41you can’t tolerate any heat, because there was hardly any hotness to it. The cute coral-shaped dumplings in the picture are “Sticky rice and pork mince siu mai”, which were very interesting, but because we had so much to eat we had left it to cool for a few minutes, which made the skin a little tough. I thought it was nice anyway, a very novel dish. We also had a hot and sour soup which I didn’t take a picture of, which tasted very authentic (spicy!). Lastly, we ended with a sweet note of black sesame dumpling, which was recommended over the red bean dumpling that my aunty said wasn’t good. The black sesame dumpling was cut into three (as we were all stuffed after finishing the savoury), exposing the hot, molten black sesame paste enclosed in the bun. The paste was just right: rich, smooth yet slightly gritty with finely ground black sesame, with a very aromatic black sesame kick.

dintaifung5

Presentation was impeccable, as would be expected with an award-winning restaurant, food is of a consistently high standard (no matter which country you visit!), and price is reasonable.

Tsui Wah Restaurant 翠華餐廳 (Central, Causeway Bay, Aberdeen, Tsuen Wan, Tsim Sha Tsui)

(another review)

tsuiwahThis chain of restaurants is perhaps the epitome of typical no-frills chain of cha chan teng in HK. The menu is very extensive, exemplified by the countless sheets of different menus scattered haphazardly underneath the glass slide of the table, with lots of set meals of rice and noodles. My second aunty brought me here to sample their signature pork chop crispy bun and crispy bun with condensed milk ($20? and $12 respectively). Made tsuiwah2with extra large dome-shaped halves of a bun very similar to the “English muffins” you’d find in Australian supermarkets or McMuffins (slightly chewy bread dusted with a little powder) enhanced with toasting it to a lovely crunch with browned edges, and sandwiched with flavourful pan-fried pork chop, mayo and lettuce, or slathered with generous pools of butter and condensed milk. Cut in half, they make for a nice shared lunch with a friend, the ‘main’ and the ‘dessert’ made from the same base!

Super Star Seafood Restaurant 鴻星海鮮酒家 (Wan Chai, Causeway Bay)

This chain of restaurants is quite famous in Hong Kong as serving high-class fine Chinese food, winning many local culinary awards. I have been to the Causeway Bay (Times Square) and Wan Chai restaurants, both of which have the highly embellished theme characteristic of fancy Chinese restaurants. Excuse the lack of photos; the presentation of the dishes were very winsome, but I was with a large group of family and thought it might be strange if I took pictures of the 15+ dishes we ordered!

We were greeted with their iconic appetiser of crispy deep-fried whitebait fish, while the menu boasts a dazzling array of bizarre, exotic, decadent delights, including this (warning: picture may frighten!), like shark fin, abalone, fish maw, sea cucumber and stone fish. Perhaps feeling not so adventerous, my dining companions ordered more down-to-earth dishes that seemingly never-endingly came in a banquet-like fashion, like a claypot stew with vegetables and beancurd sheets (so tasty! I love beancurd sheets), deep-fried fish soaked in thick sauce (a bit too much batter for my liking), scrambled egg whites with large succulent prawns (smooth and light-tasting), yi mein (Chinese E-Fu egg noodles 伊麵) (just the right texture), and the star of the night (for me anyway): braised pomelo skin with scallops or some other sort of seafood. I say ‘some other sort of seafood’ because it was the pomelo skin that shined through! It is oh-so-nice, with an amazingly melt-in-mouth tenderness, flavoured with an oyster sauce that gives some savoury to the otherwise bland taste of pomelo skin. I tried to look up a recipe on the net, and apparently it involves scraping the yellow rind off, soaking in water for a few days, occasionally squeezing it to render the spongey  toughness to a more pulpy texture, and then braising with oyster sauce.

Each main dish costs around $HK75-$170. The banquet was concluded with yet another banquet of desserts: a sweet soup of glutinous red rice and coconut milk, the usual platter of fresh cut fruits, New York cheesecake (creamy and cheesy) and steamed creamy (molten) egg custard bun. The custard bun was lovely, hot and truly had a molten liquid core of smooth creamy, eggy custard, enclosed in a soft bun (that was yellow! usually it’s white).

custard-bun

I even had the honour of having a souvenir to take home: my aunty gave me 5 packets of their crispy whitebait, with various flavours of original, curry, tomato, spicy, and seaweed (my favourite), bulked with super crunchy peanuts. I later saw that they sold it in supermarkets too! Best of all, this is not considered contraband by customs, despite being an animal product.

Kowloon Tong Club Cafe (Kowloon Tong)

View from another part of building

View from another part of building

Apparently Bruce Lee used to live in this wealthy, expat-dominated classy suburb. The buildings here are considerably shorter and classier than the tall, homogenous skyscrapers in the less wealthy areas, with only 2-4 storeys high. This modern, exclusive club reflects the prestige of the suburb, with beautiful fountains on the side of the entrance, and swanky, hotel-like decor, which (I think) only membership would permit entry to. Walking along the corridor adorned with framed paintings leads to the restaurant/cafe.

tuna-kowloon

I heard that the Hainan chicken rice here is very good, but I ordered a set menu (around $HK100?) of entree with grilled tuna salad and fettuccine with cream sauce and cured salmon. The tuna was a bit dry and the edible bones maybe increased its throat-tickling factor, but maybe tuna itself is a fairly dry fish especially when grilled. The pasta was nice, cooked al dente (unlike the soggy cream-pasta-kowloonstuff that Canto restaurants make) with lots of cream sauce (look at the pool!), capsicum, mushrooms, and the cured salmon, although very salty, gave a nice texture and contrasting piquancy cut the richness of the sauce. I also ate some wonton noodles which tasted excellent, the wontons filled with plump juicy prawn and meat, and the noodles sufficiently springy, and a cake which was light-textured.

Jade Leaf Desserts 玉葉甜品 (Soho, Central)

(other reviews)

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One of the few remaining truly authentic dai pai dongs (大牌檔) in Hong Kong, this adorably unpretentious sidestreet food stall is on one of Soho’s many steep slopes, making the seating uncomfortably slanted. This place would probably be a local’s secret, as I’m sure any tourist may be a bit put off by the scruffiness, and indeed it was my cousin who brought me here. The little ‘shed’ is located adjacent to the outdoor no-frills dining area with fold-up stools and tables barely shielded from the elements by an overhanging fabric canopy.

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The stall sells a range of quintessential Hong Kong goodies like sweet soup and noodles, all priced at a bargain of $HK7 (hot) sweet soup, $7.50 (cold) sweet soup (thought it was strange that the nicer one would be more expensive, but figured that refrigeration costs money), and less than $20 for other savoury meals (which the shop is also quite popular for).

海帶綠豆沙 (seaweed green bean soup) was very nice, the thick strips of smooth seaweed imparting a gentle flavour and slippery texture to the soup. 香草綠豆沙 (herb green bean soup) which was served cold, tasted a bit weird to me, maybe because I don’t particularly like herby tastes in sweet food, and I also think that sweet soup tastes better hot since the sweetness and flavour is jadedessertmore strongly detectable. My cousin found a piece of newspaper in the soup, but a waiter was happy to replace. I think they use newspaper somehow in the preparation process, like they did in the old days before food sanitation was a worry, but I’m not too alarmed, since everything is made the traditional, home-style method; there are much worse things that could have come into contact with food! 芝麻糊 (black sesame soup) tasted as if the black sesame had been a little burnt, but not too much so, and the texture of the gritty black sesame was just right, not watered down. The 糖不甩 (“sugar won’t come off’ literally translated) ($HK8) hot, chewy, plump glutinous rice flour balls coated with desiccated coconut, sugar and white sesame seeds, tastes so good, but then this is also something easily emulated at home. The tong sui (sweet soup) were a little on the sweet side, and they are made in a crude manner, probably resulting in many inconsistencies in the cooking, but that’s what sets it apart as authentic from the generic ‘dessert food stalls’ in shopping centres. It’s also a lot in part to do with the experience of eating at a traditional HK stall with all the old-world charm: my cousin said that by the next time I visit Hong Kong, this stall may have closed down already (because ownership can’t be transferred to other family’s hands. or something along those lines)!

The Art of Marshmallow Roasting

This is the one food activity that evokes heartfelt nostalgia within me. What Hong Kong child would not have most looked forward to the grand finale of a barbecue; vigiliantly guarding the precious bag of marshmallows to use on the lingering flames when the honey smearing, meat spearing, and carnivorous rituals are over? While we are at it, I might as well describe the way Hong Kong people barbecue. Unlike the famous backyard ‘barbies’ of Australians, this activity usually occurs in countryside parks with concrete or brick stoves already at your disposal. Instead of a portable grill with metal racks to lay the meat on, the stoves in HK become the enclosure of a mini campfire, and instead of one or several cooks assigned the cooking flipping with tongs to serve to the idle guests, each person gets to be their own chef with a two-pronged fork used as the tool to hover individual pieces of meat over the open flames. Honey is liberally slathered over the pieces of meat when they are nearly done. Surrounded by nature, returning to the most primitive form of cookery; it is truly bliss.

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I have a comical narrative to tell. On one of these BBQ trips in Aberdeen Country Park (next to the reservoir), the family was happily engaging in the usual Hong Kong barbecueing, blisfully unaware that our most anticipated part of the feast was about to be stolen away, literally. The vigilant marshmallow-guarding must have been put on a temporary hold, because the next thing we knew, a monkey furtively grabs the bag of marshmallows, briskly fleets away, and climbs up a tree, all the while biting onto the plastic packaging with its mouth. I think that must be the most memorable and amusing story anybody could have with the usually predictable barbecue!

I digress. There are two ways of eating roasted marshmallows: by themselves, or in s’mores. If you’re looking at the title and sniggering at the thought of being taught how to stick a marshmallow onto fire, there is actually a technique. The type of roasted marshmallows I adore is the one with a skin charred to crunchy perfection, with the golden brown casing craftfully peeled layer by layer, thus maximising the crusty satisfaction able to be derived from your marshmallows. Apparently that is also the technique my mother did as a child. If you are one of those who prefer their marshmallows a-la-sucking-out-gooey-liquid style, I suggest you stick to your own devices (suspending the marshmallow a long long distance over the fire results in a minimally browned skin with totally liquefied centres, but you would need a lot of patience!).

The type of marshmallow does not matter too much, although the larger it is, the easier it is to char the skin without softening the entire marshmallow. Mini marshmallows would also serve this purpose well, although it would defeat the enjoyability of the process.

  1. First, maintain a low, steady fire or mildly red-hot embers of coal. This will ensure the greatest chance of not burning the marshmallows yet enough heat to effectively singe the marshmallow exterior without rendering an overly soft core. If you don’t want to bother with a barbecue, you can roast marshmallows to the same effect on a gas stovetop: on the lowest setting, but place the marshmallow farther from the flame.
  2. Spear one or two marshmallows onto the barbecue fork, piercing through the entire marshmallow (this is important, or else the marshmallow will just fall out).
  3. Hold marshmallow over fire or coals, poised 0.5cm above the heat source, basically as close as possible without any risk of ashes tainting the soft little gem/catching fire.
  4. Rotate marshmallow when the underside has been tinted golden brown. Continuously do this until the whole marshmallow is speckled with this crunchy crust (much like hardening molten lava!), charring as fast as possible whilst minimising the melting on the interior.
  5. Remove the utensil from the fire. Very carefully, gently pinch the tip of the marshmallow with your fingers (beware, it is hot! If you dont have tough skin, be sure to cool the marshmallow first), and slowly pull this casing away from the still-solid core. Immediately devour.
  6. Repeat steps 6 and 7, until a tiny little spheroid not capable of any more shedding remains. Of course, char this little morsel until golden brown as well! You could probably do two to four lots of skin peeling if skilled.

Another delicious way to enjoy molten marshmallows is the smore. While this has remained much of a hidden secret from Australians, it is hugely popular in the U.S. I was introduced to s’mores when I was at a Brownies camp, Year 5 in Hong Kong, where we encircled the campfire while eating gooey marshmallow sandwiched between melting chocolate digestive biscuits. Hmm… all my favourite flavours conglomerated into one dessert!

Roast marshmallows, not using the peel-layer-after-layer method, but the one that yields totally liquefied centres without burnt skin. Place a slab of milk chocolate on a digestive biscuit (peanut butter also adds variety). Alternatively, use chocolate digestives. Pull the marshmallow out of the stick and place onto the digestive biscuit, then squish the other biscuit on top, thereby spreading the goo’s surface area. The residual heat would melt some of the chocolate. Enjoy this crunchy, gooey, chocolatey treat hot.

Humorous incidents as a new nutrition student

So this week has been my first week in studying my degree. The subjects that I am studying now include Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, Contemporary Public Health and Australian Health Care Systems. It’s been interesting, to say the least, and I still enjoy learning about the Biology subject the most. That said, the Chemistry is a bit of a challenge to get my logical side out, while the Public Health subjects provide a bit of relief from Science and provides a more worldly, right-brained view. I’ll try hard to learn as much as I can, avoid excessive procrastination, and… well those are my two main problems, laziness and procrastination… So yeah, will work hard!!

Comic little things that happen to a nutrition student in her orientation week.

I’m sure stuff like this happens to a dietitian on a daily basis, I’m just new to this. The amusement will fade after a while :).

Free pizza slices: nutrition student goes and grabs 3 slices, plus fairy floss and pop corn. Some random Christian uni representative comes.”Hi! What’s your name? What are you studying?” “Oh hi, I’m Bonnie, I study nutrition.” She stares down at the slice of pizza.

Accompanying her friend doing Optometry to an information session, the spectacled nutrition student helps herself to some free KFC chicken. She chuckles to her friends “Hey, I bet the nutrition information seminar tomorrow won’t be giving out free KFC.” (her friends are not amused.)

Meeting new people, the nutrition student finds out the name of her fellow student: Candy the dietitian (to-be).

Chocolate was given out as prizes in the nutrition seminar, “It’s not carrot, but it’s high in antioxidants and also increases endorphins!”

In her first Chemistry lecture, the lecturer attempts to highlight the relevance of the subject in our fields. “So the course coordinator has decided that this unit is needed for people doing Nutrition and Dietetics… we call them ‘nuts and dieters’…” And then people start laughing in amusement.

While spending some time with her high school friends in the CBD, they all go and have cake for ‘lunch’, buy 5 different Korean snacks to nibble on while loitering in Borders bookshop, and drink a sugary energy drink that was a freebie. All the while, nutrition student exclaims, “Gee, we are such bad examples of dietitian and oral hygienist-to-bes!” Staring at the Pharmacy student, “Well, drugs can cure everything!” (cough).

Corny, I know. 😛