Sunday, November 19, 2006

Chilly nights call for hotpot

I can't seem to drag anyone to try HK's hotpot hotspots with me, so one chilly night last December I just made some for myslef, hubby and his officemate.

colorful things one throws in the pot of boiling broth: thinly-sliced beef, squid rings, peeled shrimp, crabsticks, shrimp sticks which look more like logs, squid balls

healthy things one adds to the pot: fish and tofu squares, kale or choi sum, fresh black mushroom

clockwise from top left: fried shallots, brown sugar, soy sauce,, chili sauce for those who who wanted to mix and match flavors.

I provided rice and hubby and his friend made Mongolian rice and had the soup on the side. For the clear and concentrated broth I used pork and chicken bones boiled separately for hours and removed of all scum.

I still want to eat out though. Pick out mutton, beef, chicken, a variety of "balls", vegetables and dipping sauces without having to prepare any of them. Winter days are lazy days for this cook.

Macau, again!

my favorite resto in Macau!

Codfish croquettes- fried bite-sized bits that will really whet your appetite

hot inside

fried beef steak smothered in gravy ( a bit too salty for my taste, this dish, but my friend lapped it up)

codfish with milk and potatoes. creamy and salty, and way too large a serving for just two.

dessert. serradura on top (cream, sugar, crumbled biscuits), chocolate mousse at the bottom. a happy ending to a happy trip.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Departed (Seafood, that is)

At the Hilton (nothing to do with the hotel or the scandalous fashionista heiress) Seafood Restaurant in Lamma Island we devoured huge platters of fresh seafood one glorious Sunday. At around 12 noon they were alive and kicking, swimming happily in their tanks while tourists and locals alike ogled them and pointed accusing fingers at their intended "victims". By 12:30 the first of the departed started arriving at our table. In our excitement to partake of these jewels of the sea in all their fresh, perfectly-cooked and reasonably-priced glory, we forgot to take pictures of the heaping plates. Instead, we made up for it by clicking away just before the final pieces entered the bottomless depths of our tummies.

Oh, and did I mention we rode a company yacht to get there? Lovely weather, a cool breeze, a pristine white vessel with attentive staff... sitting on the top deck pretending I was part of the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" show, what a fantastic day that was!

Before eating a friend requested the following: pungent garlic slivers; bright red chopped chillies, seeds and all; red vinegar
It comes with the territory: red vinegar, dark soya sauce, chili-garlic paste
We wanted something ice-cold to wash down our enticing lunch: freshly-squeezed orange juice and Tsing Tao beer. Ahhhh, this is the life.
A shrimp head frantically trying to get included in this shot. Look at the orange pulp!
Mantis shrimp (some might say crawfish) deep-fried with salt and pepper. It was crunchy, and the sweet, oily juice spilled down out chins as we bit into its purple-streaked flesh. It tasted like a cross between squid, lobster and prawns. We ordered another plate of this just because it was so tasty and fun to eat. The tiny legs were abrasive to the tongue but we still ate all the parts, except the head and shell.
The last piece of mantis shrimp... all for me!
The last 7 members of the hipon family. Steaming shrimps should be relatively easy, but many restos bungle the task and return the crustaceans to the table an overcooked deep-orange, and customers can barely peel them. These ones were cooked exactly right. Their shells glistened with moisture, the heads were plump and juicy, the flesh slid right off the shell like smooth hands from a well-fitting glove. Paired with some vinegar and garlic, their simplicity reminded me of summer vacations with my family where we would welcome fishermen with their catch, grill seafood by the beach, and eat with our hands.
The baked lobster in cheese sauce wasn't a big favorite. The sauce was bland, watered-down and thin. I ate a similar dish at Lei Yue Moon, also known for their fresh seafood, and although the lobsters there were tad rubbery and I ran out of Mandarin phrases when haggling with the seafood guy, the sauce was excellent! A creamy, cheesy, butter-yellow velvety coating for the 3 large lobsters we ordered.
Bamboo clams sauteed in black bean sauce. These funny-looking creatures are housed in a long, razor-like (they're also called razor clams) receptacle. The flesh is cream-colored, slightly rubbery, and as we divested the hard brown shells of their inhabitants an explosion of three flavors assaulted us: salty, sweet, spicy.
Crabs cooked with eggwhite. The taste was ho-hum, but the meaty crab was a sight to behold and I enjoyed sucking the life out of its many crevices.
The Chinese have taken steamed fish to a new level. A sauce made of soya, ginger and spring onions never fails to marry well with steamed white rice. Teasing the bones from the tender flesh without breaking up is easy to look at but difficult to master. As evidenced by this picture, the vultures at our table made short work of stripping this fish down to its bones, tail and fins. It was a massacre of the gastronomic kind!
On our way back to the yacht we passed by a street food vendor. Manong fishball or isaw in Manila. In Hongkong there are various kinds of balls to choose from. In this cart we see curried fishballs at the bottom left, plain fishballs with soya at the bottom right, octopus balls on the top right, and siomai on the top left. The siomai is the cheap kind made with processed fish paste and not your usual pork and shrimp.

A view of the cart: there were also cuttlefish tentacles ready for deep-frying, and an array of sauces.

On a sad note: the little store in Lamma selling the yummiest taho (soybean) drink and dessert I've ever tasted, along with some native Hong Kong kakanins (sticky rice pastries) filled with sesame paste, red bean paste and peanuts and a red bean bibingka was still there, but it was yummy no more. I took pictures, but I'm so sad at the decline in taste and quality I'd rather grieve silently, without visual reminders of the desserts that were.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Where to get DESSERTS around Soho and Lan Kwai Fong

Pictures, locations and descriptions to follow. In the meantime, try these decadent sweets.

Chocolate Tiramisu from Fat Angelos
White Chocolate Cheesecake from Uncle Willie's
Lemon Tart and Chocolate Truffle from Vanilla
Dessert sampler from Baci and M at the Fringe
Remy Martin and Banana Caramel offerings from Antique Bakeshop
XTC's Lemon Pepper and Cocoa Ice gelato

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Coming soon

A Yacht. Victoria Harbour. Lamma Island. The Departed Seafood.

A Lorcha in Macau- mah favorite!

V-Best Tea House and Bistro Manchu

Thursday, October 19, 2006

An Indian Buffet

A dark, sinister craving for Indian food hits my hubby every few weeks or so. We have yet to try Veda, Tandoor and Gunga Din, all around the Soho and Lan Kwai Fong area, all highly recommended by Indians. Personally I'd like to try Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui. We've feasted on the yummiest chicken tikka at Bombay Dreams. But our favorite is Jashan, located in Hollywood Road. Their lunch buffet costs HKD 98.00, including one drink.

Hubby always gets loads of butter chicken (chicken makhani) with pullao rice and after stuffing himself twice, he'll try the other dishes. I always try a salad, some vegetable samosa with raita, then enjoy my small servings of lamb vindaloo (fiery hot) or lamb rogan josh, tandoori chicken, fish tikka, lentil dahl, various curried vegetables (usually cauliflower, potatoes or spinach) and curried cheese cubes (paneer). All these are washed down with ice-cold sweetish tea. I have a fruit slice for dessert and we're done!

Fruit Frenzy and A 16 Dollar Lunch

When my good friend Ivy was here, we hied off to Stanley to do the touristy thing, namely: walk around the tourist trap hiding under the guise of being a Market and admire the various overpriced, tacky bric-a-brac and kitschy stuff on display; purchase one of the above overpriced, tacky items to show off to friends and family back home; take tons of pictures; eat at McDo; walk barefoot around the beach.

After an hour of trolling around that warren of shops, we spied a small, roadside snack house. It was smelly; an odd combination of pork fat, spring onions and incence (it was beside a small temple) scented the tiny eatery, so we decided to sit outside and endure the sun's glare. One bowl of wonton noodles costs a mere HKD 16. That's still P100.00, but those who have lived in HK long enough know a food bargain when they see one. If you want some beef brisket with that add HKD 6.00. It was satisfying, warmed our insides, and the wontons were surprisingly large and tasty and boasted a whole fresh shrimp. This place is not for the faint-hearted though. The tables are sticky, we sat beside a group of smoking bare-chested men, and we definitely soaked our chopsticks in the hot water for more than 3 minutes. Just to be sure. Still, it was cheap and good.

At the beach we sipped fruit shakes. She with her strawberry one, I with my honeydew melon, guava and apple. As if the shakes were not sweet and fruity enough, we finished off, between the both of us, a half catty of shiny, at their peak, blood-red cherries; mushy, overripe, purple plums; juicy, fragrant, bright yellow-orange nectarines. Fruit overload!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Teaching is Fulfilling

Filipinas who have little or no experience in the kitchen created all these. For three hours they cooked, baked, grilled, tossed, tasted, garnished, plated, decorated, made mistakes, rectified them, all for the sake of learning a little bit more about cooking. Bravo to them!

A table full of goodies
Portobello Mushroom and Roasted Vegetable Ciabatta
Making use of both tomato and cream sauce to create something child-friendly.
Parmesan, cream and pasta. Alfredo at its simplest. Adobo Flakes in a Canape.
Shrimp. Olives. Feta. Chili. Tomatoes. Farfalle. Olive oil. So Mediterranean, so good.
Crunchy Purses filled with Chicken lying on a bed of "grass". Plum sauce.
Ricotta, Gorgonzola and Mozarella. Spinach and Artichokes. Melted. Taro chips. Poppyseed Breadsticks. Crudites.
Pesto Pasta Salad...
with Savory Grilled Chicken
Cream of Apple Butternut Squash with Parmesan Crisps
Bean Dip. Fresh-baked Pita Chips.
My thanks go out to Pam for all the pictures.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Chomping Our Way Through HK and Macau

Chocolate and Egg Mille -feuille at CaffeChocola in Macau
The rissol camarao (shrimp rissoles) beckoned...
A closer look at the deep-fried wonders with shrimp and potato. My friend loved it!
I always have this for breakfast in Macau -pao con chourico (chorizo bread). 90 % bread, 10% chorizo. Yummy, nonetheless.
From top clockwise: galao de maquina (coffee with milk, and, like the chorizo bread, it's probably 10% coffee, 90% milk), pan con chourico, rissol camarao and, peeking from top right, Black Forest cake. The cake was one of the densest versions I've tried. They could have added more liquor and cherries, but the cake's dense crumb was moist , the chocolate shavings on top generous, and I appreciated the fact that there was infinitely more cake than buttercream. We also ordered ham and cheese quiche but it was too dry. Overcooked, most likely.
The last small piece of chorizo bread sharing space with the Black Forest crumbs on my plate. I lugged home a heavy can of chorizos and have served them for chorizo rice; pan-grilled with some garlic; to enliven a chicken and okra stew. I have 3 pieces left. Pasta maybe, and if anyone has ideas, feel free to comment. :)
In Macau, the bread will always be bigger than your fist (unless you have big fists), freshly-baked, with a thin,crisp crust and soft, chewy, fragrant, absorbent core. Mopping up sauces has never been this delicious!
At Fernando's near Hac Sa Beach, Coloane: their FAMOUS, and I mean FAMOUS garlic prawns. Succulent meat, easy- to -peel shell, the sauce a heady mixture of garlic, olive oil and chili. Suck the juice out of the head, use the bread if you can't get enough of the sauce. This dish is simple yet outstanding. You could forget yourslef while eating this. Need I say more?
Sliced and grilled chorizo. Lots of off-white fatty bits on each reddish-brown slice of ecstasy. Woohoo!
Dimsum lunch at Metropol. Top row: Steamed BBQ pork bun (no way can any siopao in Manila compare to this), siomai (only in HK, and maybe Vancouver, do they come as generously-sized as this, with 1 whole crunchy shrimp on top), beancurd sheet roll stuffed with mushrooms. 2nd row: the ubiquitous ha kaw or steamed shrimp dumpling, deep-fried spring rolls, condiments for congee, assorted meat congee. Bottom: Sticky rice dumpling with chicken. Although I miss my Aunt's Fookien-style ma-chang (the pork fat of which I ingest without shame or guilt), this parcel of savory brown glutinous rice is a delightful replacement.
Close -up of the BBQ Pork Bun (or cha siu pao), siu mai and ha kaw.
From a different angle. We were 3 diners. Did we order too much or what?!
Roast crispy pork with a salty sauce that tastes a bit like a quirky blend of hoisin and shrimp paste. I need to research on what this sauce is made of. I think black beans, maybe. The strips are resting on a bed of peanuts in all their pure, fattening, "who-cares they-taste-so-good" glory.

Food Shots II

This is why I love grocery-shopping in HK. Food so fresh, the colors literally leap out! Each detail is a visual caress, igniting tastebuds. The internet grocery site, no matter how convenient, can never ever let food come to life like this. I have to walk the aisles, touch, taste, see, feel, hear, savor. I even love the "beeps" emitted by computerized scanners.
When my friend was here, we ate lunch out but had dinner home most nights. There was a pasta and pizza night, burger and calamari night, and a pseudo-Japanese night. The soup bowl looks out of place, I know. I lack dinnerware. Time for another Shenzhen trip. The miso soup in the bowl came from my sis-in-law in Japan. It's an instant thing: squeeze out the paste and mix with hot water. Not bad for soemthing that takes 30 seconds to prepare.
Japanese fried rice with seafood
Not very Japanese. On 2nd thought, not Japanese at all. Beef and Mushroom with Garlic.
My take on squid teriyaki. The sauce is quite popular with guests.
Heehee.The tempura pieces are packed like sardines. I'll get a basket next time. Shrimp, squash, eggplant, okra tempura.
egg tarts: according to Lord Stowe (who isn't really a Lord), his egg tarts aren't even the orginal ones. He tweaked the recipe, came up with a winner, and everyone has called them Portugese egg tarts since. In any case, the crusts are flaky, lovely vessels of sugary sin.
At the Macau Museum: Cooking implements of long, long ago
A Portugese feast! Very realistic-looking renditions of Macau's festive food. And this is just for afternoon tea! They all resembled Filipino dishes in some way. It's the Spanish influence.