Tofu on Day Two

Posted from Lantau Island, New Territories, Hong Kong.

I’ll skip the family-only dinner that we had after the wedding. It was fantastic, and very luxurious as it was in a private dining room at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Unfortunately, I was operating on around 50 hours without sleep at that point, and so wasn’t lucid enough to remember to shoot food pictures. All I got was a picture of something that appears to be either ginger creme brulee, or a personal seafood casserole.

Skip to the next day, after I had a chance to sleep.

After having some pastries for breakfast (more on those later) we took the arial tramway up to the giant Buddha statue, a huge hilltop bronze statue that is even more imposing than the Statue of Liberty. It is associated with the Buddhist monastery next door, which my wife’s uncle (and our gracious host) was apparently the architect for. The monastery has a vegan cafeteria, which we delved into for a fantastic late-morning snack.

Trifecta of Tofu

Tofu dish 1, a sampling of 3 desert preparations… sorry for the picture quality. All three items are tofu, prepared to a consistency of a thick jello. The dark grey one (my preference) was sesame flavored. The white and orange layered one in the front is mango, and the other one was pineapple I believe.

Sweet and Sour Tofu Skin

Tofu dish 2 was incredible. The fermentation process for producing tofu causes a skin to form on the surface, much like cooking milk to a near-boil. This skin is perfectly edible, and is skimmed off for dishes needing tofu with much denser qualities. The result has a texture very similar to cooked chicken thighs: moist and slightly chewy. In this particular dish, the tofu skin was stir-fried with a real sweet-and-sour sauce (not that crap you get at American-Chinese takeout). It was absolutely delicious!

Tofu in Ginger Syrup

Tofu dish 3 is probably my all-time favorite tofu dish. It’s a very soft and slightly sweet tofu prepared to the consistency of a light custard. It is served cool, with a simple syrup infused with ginger poured over. Delicious, and a great refreshment on a hot day!

Tea for Twenty

Posted from Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Continuing on Day 1 of our fantastic culinary tour of Hong Kong, a little before noon, we headed over to Pearl’s uncle’s house. He was the father of the groom, and they were holding the traditional pre-wedding ceremony.

In this ceremony, the bride and groom serve tea to their parents, and then in turn to each of the elder family members present. Pearl and I weren’t personally served, as Pearl is only a cousin of the groom, but her parents were. It was a bit awkward for me (there are several pictures of me as the only non-Chinese in the very crowded condo).

While we were waiting for the Bride and Groom to show up (they were at the Bride’s parents’ going through the same ceremony) we had plenty of snacks and appetizers. At this point, I was going on only about 2 hours of sleep in the last 40+, so you’ll have to forgive me for not capturing everything.

There were some wonderful pecan cookies, a bit more like shortbread than you usually find here in the US:

Pecan Cookies

As well as these great lotus seed pastries. Lotus seed is a very common filling for cakes and sweets in Hong Kong. It is very sweet, and has the texture of a hard-boiled egg yolk.

Lotus Seed Pastries
Lotus Seed Pastries

And my personal favorite is these sesame seed balls. They are white rice-dough, almost the same texture as mochi. The centers are filled with a sweet black sesame-seed paste. They’re boiled in water, sometimes with sugar and some ginger, making a very light broth, and served warm. I have some in the freezer that I think I’m going to have to pull out now….

Sesame Seed Balls
Sesame Seed Balls

Lick it up

Posted from Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Growing up as a kid, I always loved the Sunday mornings when we would stop by the local doughnut shop on the way home from church. It was steaming hot sugary bliss that was sure to leave my brother and I hyperactive for hours.

Along with the steaming bowls of congee that so pleasantly woke me up, my mother-in-law triggered these fond childhood memories with this delectable pastry that I could eat for breakfast any day of the week.

Ngau Lay Soh or “Cow Tongue Pastry” is so called because it looks somewhat like a bovine tongue, but luckily has neither the same taste or texture. Instead, it tastes like a typical American doughnut, but without any kind of topping or glaze. Eat it plain, or dip it into your congee. The slight sweetness and fluffy texture are sure to put a smile on your face.

Outside of Hong Kong, so far I’ve only been able to find this in New York and London. If anyone knows where to get it in Los Angeles, I’d love to know.

Comfort Food

Posted from Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

A dreary, chilly November morning in Hong Kong. After a 16 hour flight and only 45 minutes of nap on a hotel bed, what I really need is comfort food. Just as I’m about to jump in the shower, my mother in law enters the room with several steaming bowls of congee.

Congee with Beef Meatballs
Congee with Beef Meatballs

Congee is the ultimate in comfort cuisine. A simple rice porridge, it takes on the flavors of whatever is added. It’s a truly heartwarming dish that sticks to your bones. In this case, it had beef meatballs along with the traditional scallions and white pepper. But what truly set it apart from anything I’ve had in the states was the ginger slivers. This added a wonderful flavor to the dish that helped me wake up feeling refreshed. Needless to say, I gobbled it all down.