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

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 www.ninedragons.com 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!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Feng Shui Necklace

My favourite necklace at the moment is my Feng Shui necklace. A gorgeous black agate necklace with carved tourmaline pendants, tourmaline beads and a carved jade tiger that dangles down the arch of my back. Each tourmaline carving has a special meaning and each one has its own unique colour or colours. At first glance each pendant looks like small chunks of rock but on closer inspection each one is intricately carved.
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Yuen Yick Oyster Sauce & Shrimp Sauce Manufacturer Peel Street

Luckily, I visited Yuen Yick Oyster Sauce & Shrimp Sauce Manufacturer just as some shrimp sauce was being bottled. I can't speak Cantonese but it looked like father and son were bottling the sauce.

Peel Street Shops

Today, I took photos of the Hong Kong that I absolutely love. Not brand new buildings with marble floors or designer stores with glossy shoes. Today, I captured the charisma of shops in Peel Street that have possibly been passed down from generation to generation.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Madame Butterfly

Here is my latest design "Madame Butterfly", rose quartz, natural crystal and a gorgeous green jade butterfly made for my mum in a far away place.
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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sugar & Spice & All Things Nice

Little r is having a birthday soon and today her second front tooth fell out! What more can a little girl ask for when she will be getting a visit from the tooth fairy, lots of presents, sugar and spice and all things nice.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Magically Transformed

Before & After

This is what happens when you ask a lovely Chinese lady in a jewellery store in Hong Kong feedback about how to attach a pendant to your Chinese Knot necklace. Much better don't you think?
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Necklaces, Necklaces, Necklaces

With busy hands I am now spoiled for choice in the jewellery department.
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