Dim Sum

Posted from Tung Chung, New Territories, Hong Kong.

It seems all we did on our Hong Kong trip was eat, eat, and eat some more. As soon as we got back from the giant Buddha statue (via the Ngong Ping 360 aerial tramway), we met up with some of my wife’s extended family for dim sum at the Citygate shopping center in Tung Chung. I’ve had dim sum many times before, and since, but this was my first time in Hong Kong, so I was suprised at how authentic the places I’ve been in LA and New York actually are.

My wife’s family was very patient with me as I tried to snap these pictures as quickly as I could. They had started before we got there.

First off, some dumplings. These had shrimp, vegetables, and rice, and I believe the wrapper was tofu skin as opposed to the typical rice wrapper. Next was another dumpling, this one with a thick rice dough casing, similar to pork buns. I can’t remember what the filling was, but it was very attractive with the dark swirls on the surface… then the dumplings just kept coming and coming. Some shrimp, pork, and my personal favorit char siu pork buns (BBQ).

Shrimp Dumplings in Tofu Skin
Steamed dumpling
Shrimp and Vegetable Dumplings
Pork Dumplings
Char Siu BBQ Pork Buns

On to the fried dishes! There were some cute egg-shaped fried dumplings. I don’t remember the filling, but it was probably shrimp, and some vegetable spring rolls.

Fried dumplings
Vegetable Sprig Rolls

Of course, since it’s dim sum, the dishes just kept coming and coming. We had some typical egg custards and the dish that most caught my eye. It was a sweet gelatin dish, but embedded in it were tiny red berries. Very very delicious.

gelatin with red berries
Egg Custard

And of course, a few noodle dishes:

Noodles with shrimp and mushrooms
Noodles with shrimp

And it wouldn’t be dim sum without some turnip cakes. These are made by shredding daikon, pressing it together with shrimp, vegetables, or pork, and then pan frying them so they develop a nice crust.

Daikon cakes
Daikon cakes

I promise, we’re almost done…. Some pork meatballs, very juicy, and very delicious and served with worcestershire sauce (one of my favorites), and some chicken feet. Chicken feet are not what you’d expect. They’re actually very fatty and tender, almost having a gelatin consistency. They’re cooked in a sweet sauce and are actually quite good if you can get over the mental reservations.

Chicken Feet

Finally, some sticky rice. Take some diced marinated pork, wrap it with sticky rice, bundle the whole thing in a leaf (banana or some similar large leaf) and steam it:

Sticky rice with pork
Sticky rice with pork unwrapped

Now didn’t that all look fantastic? Needless to say, I was stuffed afterwards and not particularly looking forward to eating again dinner. But dinner was so fantastic, a 5-star Cantonese banquet, featuring some very traditional foods that almost no-one makes today because of the labor and cost. Hungry yet? That meal is coming soon!

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.