Monday, May 18, 2009

Boutique Boulevard: SO CHIC SO CENTRAL - Cake Couture

I absolutely adore luxury designer items but sadly have champagne taste on a beer budget; so although many stores such as Prada, Chanel and the like are at my fingertips I rarely venture inside and only tend to admire designs from a distance.  This hasn't really changed but what seems to be an attempt to get those with any money left during the GFC (not this little black duck) to spend, spend, spend and boost the economy there is currently a two week celebration of arte de vivre "Boutique Boulevard: SO CHIC, SO CENTRAL" in the Central District of Hong Kong running from 15 May to 31 May 2009.

Apart from targeting the rich, "Boutique Boulevard: SO CHIC, SO CENTRAL" is also offering those less fortunate (people like me) the opportunity to attend informative and creative workshops to experience a taste of the luxe life (for free - woo hoo) in addition to providing some eye candy in the form of art installations found in respective locations around Central. 

Of particular note is the "Cake Couture" exhibition for culinary afficionados in the Princes Building presented by Chef Bob Tay from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong.  Chef Tay's cakes are truly a work of art and are nothing short of spectacular and even though I took photo's they really don't do the cakes justice.  So even though I still plan to post 3 authentic Chinese recipes at some point, cake couture and eye candy is the order of the day.

Chef Tay's designer cakes include a Dream Dress; Shanghai Tang Padlock Handbag; White Versace Handbag, Salvatore Ferragamo Pumps; Pierrot; Tiffany & Co. Tiffany Keys Collection; and Federico. Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blog Update - Master Chef in Hong Kong

I'm not a professional blogger and I only tend to provide snippets of what I get up to on my blog as children and personal pursuits tend to keep me somewhat busy:) But, lately it seems that I've got so much to tell yet with so little time.  Keep posted, as I've got more info about another cooking demo conducted by one of Hong Kong's master chefs with three authentic recipes. 

In the meantime, I'm off to play mahjong ALL DAY... 

For more info about a cooking demo held by Lin Heung Tea House visit my February posts in the sidebar.

Monday, May 4, 2009


After spending what seemed like hours chopping, slicing and cooking in the kitchen, I proudly served up yet another banquet to my Gorgeous Girl (GG) which in my mind would have been fit for Great Empress Wu when I heard shrieks of disgust, "Why can't we eat NORMAL food... I am soooo SICK of CHINESE food?" I paused for a moment and then with a smile on my face replied, "BUT GG this IS normal food as can I remind you that we DO live in CHINA!" Well, this comment did not go down well at all and in fact there was an outright protest in our household that night. GG decided that until I cooked some NORMAL FOOD that she would go on a hunger strike (even though it only lasted a matter of an hour).

OK so not everybody is as keen about Chinese food as I am - point taken. GG, I will try to cook more NORMAL FOOD even though I think that it is a bit of WESTERN STODGE and I pay FOUR times the amount for GWEILO STUFF but to appease you I will include a bit of this and a bit of that on my blog - albeit a bit more GOURMET.
Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, May 3, 2009

All Dressed Up & No Where To Go!

Somebody had an awful lot of fun playing dress-ups this afternoon and our little furry feline seemed most content in his snug new cardi.
Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dan Dan Mian

Dan Dan Mian

1/2 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
200g minced pork
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut oil (for frying)
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons grated ginger
4 spring onions finely chopped
2 tablespoons fine peanut butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped peanuts
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili oil
2 tablespoons Chili Bean Sauce (Toban Djan)
1 dried Sichuan chili finely sliced
1 tablespoon rock sugar
Juice of half a lime
1 1/2 cups of fresh chicken stock
1 Catty (600 gm) Fresh Noodles

  1. Grind the Sichuan peppercorns in a mortar and pestle then dry fry in a wok until fragrant.
  2. Marinate the pork in 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce whilst you prepare the other ingredients then stir fry the pork in the peanut oil until brown and crispy. Remove from the wok and drain.
  3. Add the spring onion, ginger and garlic to the wok and stir-fry for approx. 30 seconds then add remaining ingredients. Simmer until the sauce is reduced and the sauce darkens in colour approx. 2 - 4 minutes.
  4. Cook the noodles in salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then drain and divide between four bowls.
  5. Ladle the peanut sauce over the noodles, garnish with fresh herbs and a sprinkle of crushed peanuts. Serve.
Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chinese Knotting - Shrimp & Dragonfly Guild

Over the last week, I've been busy designing my latest Chinese knot necklace, which I showcased at the Shrimp & Dragonfly Guild today. A bit of button bling with with lots of colour!

And, afterwards I designed a simple lariat necklace using neon colours from current fashion trends.

Click on the title to this post to find out about Chinese knot classes in Hong Kong.
Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cooking up a Dragon - Snake Soup

Recently, I bought a book from called, "Cooking up a Dragon" which is an excellent resource for anyone interested in Hong Kong cuisine. The book contains recipes from a cross-section of Hong Kong ranging from tiny Dai Pai Dongs to Haute Cuisine offered in 5 Star Hotels.

When I first received the book, I eagerly flicked through each page until, to my absolute amazement, I found a recipe for SNAKE SOUP submitted by none other than the famous snake shop "Shia Wong Hip" in Sham Shui Po.

Now, not really wanting to go out of my way to buy my own special snake or snakes just to make this recipe (ok, still a bit petrified from my last snake shop experience), I decided to visit the shop today to see if I could actually pluck up the courage to try this famous delicacy. I arrived just before lunch time and studied the snakes in a cage out front before scanning the shop itself... lots of gweilo photo's on the walls, small uninspiring tables and stools, and the familiar wooden crates that I had seen previously at the snake shop in Sheung Wan. Ok, this is all right now let's see about hygiene. There was one Chinese gentleman busy tucking into his steaming bowl of soup and I actually saw another lady getting hers so was relieved to see that porcelain bowls and spoons were actually taken out of a steamer that sterilised the crockery and utensils. Not really wanting to get a dose of food poisoning, in addition to feeling sick after tasting the soup, I felt a lot better that at least I wouldn't get sick from the lack of hygiene.

Not knowing enough Cantonese to ask the lady for a spoonful rather than a bowl we played charades until she understood that I didn't actually want a regular bowl but just a taste. She removed a porcelain spoon and small bowl from the steamer then started filling it until it measured about half a cup. The soup and crockery was extremely hot, so I sat down, waited for a bit then took a tiny amount from the side of my bowl, sipped it then waited for the "yuck" factor to arrive. BUT, funnily enough it DIDN'T and all I could taste was a delicate sweet soup with hints of ginger and citrus. Although, I could see strands of snake in my bowl and the colour was a murky brown, the taste wasn't overpowering and the snake actually tasted a bit like chicken although I would go on to say that chicken meat is a bit stronger. I continued to sip my delightful snake soup and after I had finished went over to pay but the lovely lady motioned me to put my money back in my purse, gave me a hug and with a big smile ushered me out on to the street.

Shia Wong Hip is located at G/F 170 Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon, Hong Kong Tel: +852 23869064

Note: If you buy the book you can substitute chicken for snake... phew! Also, click on the title to this post to see "Le Gourmet TV" footage of "Shia Wong Hip". The lady holding the snakes,"Chau Ka-Ling" is the lovely lady and restaurant owner that refused to take my money.

Also visit

Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Chan Chi Kee - Chinese Cleavers & Restaurant Quality Equipment

Yesterday, I went to my favourite street in Yau Ma Tai to get a couple of restaurant grade Chinese cleavers. One of the best shops in the street is Chan Chi Kee Cutlery, G/F 316-318 Shanghai Street, Kowloon Hong Kong email:

If you visit their website you will notice that shopping for Chinese cleavers is serious business as there is not one or two to choose from but a whole catalogue! Well looked after your Chinese cleaver should last many years, just remember to wash it straight away after use, apply a smear of oil and store it in a safe place.

If you are going to use a whet stone to sharpen your cleaver, soak it in water for 20 minutes then sharpen both sides of the blade at a 30-35 degree angle. If you sharpen the stone 10 times on one side then this is how many times you need to do it on the other side. If you accidently chip your cleaver whilst chopping, then sharpening is going to take considerably longer. Note: Chan Chi Kee Cutlery Co. Ltd delivers worldwide and also have a huge range of other restaurant quality items including but not limited to pastry making, baking, dim sum, moulds, woks, strainers, skimmers and ladles etc.
Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

She Wong Lam Snake Shop

The exact same day that little r came home from school and told me that she had touched her first snake ever was also the day that I accidently discovered the snake shop in Sheung Wan. What first caught my eye was a small wire cage out the front of the shop with a couple of bedraggled looking snakes. After taking a couple of photo's, I walked into the shop and was fascinated to see piles of wooden boxes, bottles of what looked like snake oil and one bottled stripey snake. I was just about ready to leave the shop (a little disappointed that my photo's of the snakes didn't really turn out) when I noticed another wire cage toward the back of the shop. As I walked over, I felt my stomach churn as the cage was absolutely full to the brim of snakes of all colours. Suddently, another man appeared from the back of the shop and to my horror, he took the lid off the cage and pulled out about 3 snakes about a metre away from where I was standing. I took a couple of photo's, thanked him very much but then as quick as lightening, bolted from the shop. That day, little r was brave enough to touch a snake and was very excited about her adventure, however, unfortunately her poor mum couldn't say the same - I still feel sick just thinking about it.

She Wong Lam supply snakes to restaurants and from October until February each year sell snake soup. The shop is located at 13 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Tel: 25438032

Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Learn Mandarin with FM S.H.E 11th Album

Living in Hong Kong, I would love to be able to speak Cantonese but find the tones a little too difficult to master so have embarked on learning a bit of Mandarin instead. Problem is that I don't get to listen to people speaking the language often enough, so to hone my skills I've started to listen to some mandopop.

Currently, I enjoy the latest album produced by FM S.H.E. The music is modern, the tunes catchy and there is also a take on Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean". Interspersed in the lyrics is also a bit of rap which adds another dimension.

Although, the video isn't that great you can listen to a track called "Miss Universe" if you click on the title to this post and who knows, you might be singing in Mandarin sooner than you think.
Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cabbage & Pork Dumplings

Today, I went to one of my favourite Chinese dumpling haunts for brunch of Cabbage and Pork Dumplings. Whilst there I watched one of the young chefs make the dumplings. A dough of tang flour (rice flour) and water is rolled into a thin snake like shape and then cut into about 1.5cm lengths. Each length is then flattened with the palm of one hand then rolled with a thin dim sum rolling pin. After the dumpling wrapper is formed, the dough is cupped in one hand and a small flat dim sum spatula is used to insert the filling in the middle. The hand holding the wrapper is then cupped to close the dumpling then it is pleated with the thumbs of both hands. The chef making the dumplings was extremely fast and apparently many Chinese are taught this method of making dumplings when they are small children. I also asked if the chef added cold water to the boiling water each time they are cooked but he said that this is an old method which is used when you can't control the cooking temperature. The water in the restaurant was temperature controlled so this method wasn't required.
Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

Hong Kong Style Mango Pudding

Note that the measurements below do not contain any typos as they are derived from the Chinese Tael and Catty weight system.

300g mango, diced
150g mango puree
150g soya bean milk
150g fresh cream
300g ice cubes

Gelatine Syrup
450g water
26g gelatine powder
225g sugar

In a saucepan over a low heat dissolve all of the ingredients for the gelatine syrup, remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Add the soya bean milk and fresh cream and mix well. Add the diced mango and the diced mango puree and combine. Lastly, add the ice cubes stirring until the ice cubes have melted. Pour into pudding moulds and chill to set.

You can buy really cool pudding moulds and dim sum equipment from the many kitchenware shops that line Shanghai Street. I normally visit Man Kee Chopping Board, G/F, 341-343 Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fuschia Dunlop's Red Braised Pork with Fresh Water Chestnuts

I am currently reading Fuschia Dunlop's "Shark's Fin & Sichuan Pepper - A sweet-sour memoir of eating in China" and am enjoying it so much that I finally bit the bullet, went to my local wet market, bought a 2lb slab of pork belly (skin, hair & nipples still attached), the required ingredients and hurried home to make Chairman Mao's Red-Braised Pork.

Upon arriving home, I went through the recipe again but decided that I'd experiment with the spices. In addition to the star anise, red chillies and cassia bark used in Fuschia's recipe, I added 2 bay leaves, 2 pieces of sand ginger, 1 small piece of tangerine peel, 1 slice of dried licorice root, 1 clove and 3 white peppercorns. I also used brown slab sugar instead of white sugar with only a teaspoon of white sugar at the final stage of cooking and a drizzle of dark soy sauce for colour. My version of the red braised pork looks a lot drier compared to Fuschia's version so I would probably add a little bit more water next time to see if it makes any difference but from the Lin Heung Tea House demonstration this was pretty much how they cooked their pork cartilage so I followed suit.

The end result was absolutely amazing! If you haven't read Fuschia's book I highly recommend it. For a copy of Fuschia's recipe click on the title to this post.

Stay tuned for some photo's of the Central wet market in Hong Kong. Also, at some stage I'll visit Sham Shui Po or West Kowloon to try and pluck up the courage to try snake soup.

Update - I made this dish again using more water but was actually happier with the result first time round. Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

The Old Streets of Sai Kung

In the old streets of Sai Kung I discovered a little shop called "Wo Cheong Hou" located on the G/F No. 14 Main Street Sai Kung, New Territories. Inside, perched on a stool, sat a little old man called Mr Mak who is one of the last remaining iron mongers in Sai Kung if not Hong Kong. Displayed proudly all over one wall were photo's of Margaret Thatcher, her entourage and Mr Mak when she had last visited his shop. Out front were Mr Mak's hand made buckets, watering cans, metal boxes and the like and towards the back an assortment of mail boxes.

On Hong Kong island I normally find that the locals are quite reluctant for me to take their photo but when I asked Mr Mak he immediately straightened his back, adjusted is glasses and obligingly struck a pose. Mr Mak absolutely made my day! And, I have to say that I felt very honoured to be able to take his photo as I was not only capturing a remarkable man but also a part of Hong Kong's history. Mr Mak is 93 years old, still works very hard and credits his good health to his diet and exercise. He explained that there aren't too many products on the market like his anymore because the youth of today aren't interested in learning a trade that's not profitable enough. So after spending a lovely half hour with Mr Mak and one of his neighbours I proudly walked away with a smile on my face and my shiny new mailbox tucked under my arm.

Next stop down the street and around the corner was a little tea shop called "Tea & Zen". Here I spent a good couple of hours talking to Raymond and his wife Debbie (the owners), Clarence and Maria. I learnt what I was doing wrong when I was making my pu-erh (bolay) tea and I also received a Cantonese language lesson. We then talked a little about global politics, cultural differences and photography all the while sipping our pu-erh. Then, much to our delight and unbeknown to us, Maria had visited one of the street stalls and had come back with brown paper bags full of Chinese egg puffs, which were absolutely delicious. It was a wonderful afternoon and I walked away with some pu-erh tea to replenish the stock in my cupboard. Must remember to put 5 gm pu-erh in a small teapot (10 gm for a larger one) and to flush the tea leaves twice before steeping in boiling water. After the tea has steeped for about 30 seconds you can then pour the tea into a glass jug and leave the tea leaves dry in the pot until you are ready to make more tea. You can do this up to about ten times at one sitting before disposing of the tea leaves.
Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hong Kong Street Snacks

I was so busy talking about mahjong today that I didn't update you about a trip to Sai Kung yesterday. For now here is a glimpse of one of the fabulous street stalls that frequent Hong Kong during the winter months. Snacks of sweet potato, roasted chestnuts and quail eggs - yum!

More later about one of the few remaining iron mongers in Sai Kung and an afternoon spent in a tea shop conversing with the locals whilst drinking pu-erh tea and munching on Chinese egg puffs.
Copyright © 2008 - 2009 All Rights Reserved

Mahjong 24/7

Today, I had the opportunity to play mahjong with some fellow class mates at Nancy's Advanced Mahjong class held at the YWCA ESMD, 1 Macdonnell Road, Mid Levels Hong Kong. Although, the class is for new students, graduates from previous classes are allowed to participate to either brush up on their skills or to help the uninitiated. In my case however, it was a matter of brushing up on my skills as it has been a long time in between games. This is despite best intentions to play on a weekly basis as sometimes us tai tai's are just too busy, busy, busy. Now, that may mean getting a broken finger nail fixed, lining up around 3 blocks to get a freebie cotton tote bag from YSL or rushing to 5 gourmet supermarkets just to get the ingredients for 1 perfect meal - phew! Anyway, much to my disgust I left the table this afternoon with a small bowl of chips. No, not the ones you eat but the ones you use for scoring.

Practice makes perfect so they say so before we meet again next week I think I'll have to work on my strategy. For anybody who loves Hong Kong style Mahjong and needs a bit of practice (ok la, that's me) or doesn't have the time to meet up with friends to play a game (because they are too busy shopping or getting their nails fixed) make sure you visit a site called For a fee you can download the software straight away and start playing to your hearts content. Be warned though as once you start playing you can lose track of time and before too long its 2am in the morning! This means that you'll then have to make a special trip to the wet market to get cucumbers to reduce the puffiness around your eyes or get more green tea bags - not an attractive look!

If you visit Hong Kong also try to make the effort to walk around Yau Ma Tei and Jordan in Kowloon. Here, you you can witness first hand the locals playing mahjong or as it is known locally "Ma jeuk". After a hard morning at work, many locals mix business with pleasure and play mahjong in between serving customers. If you would like to take photo's however, it is polite to ask first. Stay long enough and they might actually try and teach you.

Us tai tai's are yet to visit the many clubs and restaurants that offer mahjong and meal package deals which start from a minimum of 5 hours! But anyway, that's another story...

Hai yaaah! I couldn't find my photo with 4 Cantonese gentlemen playing mahjong in a dried Chinese sausage shop so I'm afraid Christian Louboutin shoes will just have to do!