Archive for the 'Taste' Category

CAFE SLOBBIE MAGAZINE ARTICLE

Early last year, I have started contributing to the Cafe Slobbie Magazine in Seoul asĀ  their Hong Kong Correspondent, here’s one of my articles:

unclemike_henry

Accidental Family Reunion French Toast

Being a former British colony, HK-styled French toast is a common breakfast or afternoon tea item in HK cafe menus, it is always a treat to have French toast at home, as it takes a bit of preparation and muscle power if you don’t have a hand-held mixer at home. HK-styled French toast is definitely a nostalgic food for people who have been oversea for awhile.

Last week, my grandma (popo, my mom’s side, the one with the bye bye meat), had a major stroke, my family members from three different continents flew back to see her and we had an accidental family reunion. Even though the family reunion took place by a hospital bed, but I am sure that the positive energy that we brought made her survive the stroke.

With 8 people living in an apartment, my uncle assigned himself as the official personal chef serving breakfast and dinner. He has been working in the kitchen ever since he moved to Austrailia in the 90s, and in recent years he has started working at busy take away places in Sydney serving up nostalgic HK styled breakfast items like pineapple buns, toasted sandwiches and hot milk tea.

In this accidental family reunion, my younger brother finally got a chance to have some bonding time with my Australian uncle through a French toast cooking morning. This is one of my brother’s favourite food and he was more than happy to help and learn from my uncle. With a handful of people to feed, they collaborated to making one French toast after another. After meeting each other again for 20+ years, my brother got along with my uncle so well that it feels like they had always spent time together and cooking for the girls in the family while they sleep in….

Here’s the recipe: (for 8 people)

- 6 eggs (separate egg whites and egg yolks, whisk egg white with love till you see soft peaks), by separating the eggs, you get a fluffier crust and the toast will taste lighter instead of having a heavy eggy taste.

- 16 slices of white bread
- home-made strawberry jam

- butter (Australian)
- ground cinnamon
- honey

Heat some sunflower oil with medium heat in a frying pan. Take two slices of bread, spread with some homemade strawberry jam, and make it into a sandwich then dip in egg yolk and then dip in fluffy egg white. Place the sandwich onto the pan slowly, pan fry both sides until golden brown. Sprinkle with some ground cinnamon. Serve with some Australian butter (or any nice butter) and a drizzle of honey or syrup with a nice cup of black tea.

ENTER THE DRAGON

My Dragon and me
Photo Credit: Once Upon a Table

Last year when I was randomly searching for information so I can design and bake a collection of spice route inspired cookies (just a random food-related business idea), I came across a group called Once Upon a Table, it’s a private supper club in Hong Kong that hosts themed dinners at a different home every time. To welcome the year of the Dragon, their first event of the year is named after Bruce Lee’s famous movie, “Enter the Dragon”. The invitation of the dinner couldn’t have come at a better time as I did have a dragon sneaking into my life at the time.

To top of it off, he was actually born in the year of the Dragon and a big fan of Bruce Lee’s movie. So, it was a great start for a secret date with me “dragoned out” with a Dragon date enjoying Dragon inspired food/drinks, decor and everything in between. This “dragon-coordination” thing was very random and it wouldn’t have happened if I actually tried to plan this all with timing, location and character wise.

It was one of those foggy spring nights in Hong Kong where it was rainy in the city and the road leading to our secret private supper club location was barely visible with the taxi driver driving at about 30 km/hr and the fog so thick that we could barely see 1 meter in front of us. I assured him that we are indeed attending a dinner at a secret location and not on our way to visit some sort of secret cult where I am offering him up for human sacrifice.

The journey to this private supper club dinner was an adventure on its own but when the “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” dish came with an amazingly tasting pickled lamb curry and a chicken with rice, I looked over and he said it tasted exactly like his dad’s lamb curry. How all this happened I have no idea, but all I can say that one of the organizer was born very close to his family home in India and somehow this recipe have circulated half way around the world and now in front of us. I love surprises but coincidences are even cooler because it’s not planned it just happens!

I am a big people watcher when I am eating at a dinner table, especially observing how others eat so one of the highlight points was when “Puff the Magic Dragon’s Egg” dessert got served. It was magical because everyone looked like a little kid as one of the organizers went around the room pouring spoonfuls of chocolate sauce on huge frozen chocolate eggs (the size of a ostrich’s egg). Guests were the chocolate eggs with the home-made/hand-churned mint ice cream with popping candy while smiling as it frizzed and popped away in people’s mouth. They were trying to not look overly excited about the sensory overload and trying not to be too greedy about getting more chocolate sauce but when prompted a second time said yes and you can secretly hear their taste buds saying “score!”. I can tell you the moaning sounds in that room was at all times high that night.

I might not have started off the year of the Dragon feeling the greatest but since this ceremonial “Enter the Dragon”, things have gotten a lot more smoother and serene even at the worse of times. Let’s just say that those Chinese horoscope readings do know what they are talking about when they say rats and dragons are compatible, okay well…what I really mean is that they both like to eat sea urchin or at least one of them tries to eat it to impress the other. :)

FRUITTY NUTTY CRISPS EXPERIMENTATION

Looking forward to my first Farmer’s Market selling my fruity and nutty crisps, a bit like biscotti but thinner, perfect with some soft cheese and preserve and nice glass of wine.

Event Date: Sunday, February 5th, 2012 – 10am to 2pm
Location: Discovery Bay, Hong Kong
Organized by Handmade Hong Kong

TEA NOW CAN

Welcome to the land of colourful of shop houses, colourful plastic serving plates, endless hawker centers. A blend of influences from Chinese, Malaysian and Indian cuisine…old Chinese cafe reminds of movie scenes from Hong Kong in the 60s or 70s. Old Mandarin songs playing, old-style stroke like Chinese food signs, paper packaging…very nostalgic indeed. Malaysian styled breakfast with freshly made Roti prata made with egg and dried mutton, Chiu Chow pork organ soup noodles for lunch and Indian naan and dahl for dinner. Indian breakfast with rava dosa and masala tea, Hainese chicken rice for lunch and Turkish dinner. Repeat. Little India, Chinatown, Arab Street…just like Main Street, Chinatown, Surrey in Vancouver.

I wonder if Vancouver’s multicultural scene will melt into something like Singapore one day maybe in 50 years…?


One of the sketches from the Urban Sketchers’ exhibition, curry fish at a Hawker Center. Inspired me to sketch a couple of Hawker Center stalls….a great way to experience the setting and take a break from eating until hitting up another stall.

NGON NGON NGON

Ngon = “delicious” in Vietnamese.

HAVING A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING = BALANCE

A balanced meal to me means the right amount of crispiness to softness in a bite. Maybe that’s why I am touched if a plate of fried noodles comes with just the right ratio of soft noodles, crispy bean sprouts, fragrant green onions and tender beef.

The following “balance” in life makes me very very HAPPY:

The right amount of hot water to one shot of espresso makes an Americano satisfying.

Eating a bowl of Chinese soup noodle, putting just the right amount of soup, noodle, meat into one spoonful.

The right amount of ice cream to waffle cone.

Spaghetti Bolognese, with the right amount of tomato sauce to minced beef to spaghetti.

Shanghainese vegetable and pork dumplings with 75% vegetables and 25% meat (approximately).

A pizza with 60% vegetables and 40% meat/cheese.

At the end of the day, to have a balanced dish in front of me, I can eat more without being bored of one ingredient or flavour and best of all, on my last bite, there is still a little bit of everything.

PILLOWY GOODNESS

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Butter & Chicken Breasts

At one point of my life, I tried to substitute any “fatty” ingredients or cooking methods into healthier ones like making oven-fried chickens with cornmeal and pre-panfrying it and then finishing the rest of the cooking in the oven, using milk instead of cream in traditional cream sauce recipes like spaghetti carbonara and one of the biggest change I did was using sunflower oil instead of butter in baking, I would make “low-fat” muffins, banana breads, cupcakes..etc – all these modifications started because I wanted someone special to me to enjoy all these tasty food without creating unneeded calories for the belly. Read more