Friday, April 11, 2008

Samgyetang ~ Ginseng Chicken Soup

Our first encounter with this dish was two years ago, at a Korean restaurant along Londsdale Street in Melbourne. My brother Roger strongly recommended this dish and it was really worth the every cent we paid for. For less than AUD18/MYR 50, we actually paid for a soup of whole chicken with ginseng, Korean style.

The Chinese, like Koreans, believe that ginseng is an energy food, a tonic that boosts the immune system and a source of energy and vitality. Koreans are definitely very proud of their ginseng. It is almost like their pride joy, aside from their Kimchi.

There are many grades of Korean ginseng, with the really good ones costing over thousands dollars. In terms of taste, I think the Chinese ones are slightly more herby and Korean ones are sweeter. But then again I dont think I have tasted the really good quality ones from both.

This is a Korean dish, which is quite easy to prepare and it tastes excellent. Glutinous rice is stuffed into the chicken's cavity and simmer to cook.

The natural sweetness of the chicken goes well with the ginseng soup combined with the ever zen-like simplicity of the glutinous rice. The best thing about this combination is that the glutinous rice absorbs the sweetness of chicken. Everything has a reason & role to play.

It is also a good dish to enhance the energy for your family especially on hot evenings. I normally have to use whole dried chinese ginseng, which costs around MYR15 each. There are available at Chinese medicine halls and in some wet markets.

1 - 1.2 kg of small whole kampung chicken
2 pcs of whole chinese/korean ginseng
6-8 pcs of red dates
1 whole bulb of garlic
1 tbsp of pine nuts or 4-5 chestnuts optional
1 tbsp of thornberry optional
80 - 100gm of glutinous rice
About 1-1 1/2 litre of water or enough to cover up to 3/4 of the chicken.

Salt and Pepper dip:
1 tbsp of salt
1 tbsp of pepper

1) Wash chicken clean of all its internals. Chop off at the neck area. But DO NOT cut too deep till you have a gaping hole. Note also to leave skin flapping on at the chicken bottom so that you can easily seal it up later.

2) Wash glutinous rice and soak it in water for 1/2 hour or so. Wash other ingredients.

3) Fill the glutinous rice, one piece of ginseng and 2-3 pcs of red dates up to 2/3 of the chicken cavity. Seal up the chicken by 'sewing' the skin up with a toothpick or satay stick.

4) Boil water in a pot that could go straight onto the table later on (say a claypot or a deep casserole dish). Add the other piece of ginseng, garlic, pinenuts, thornberries and rest of dates.

5) Add chicken tummy side up especially if you could not manage to seal up the skin well. Cook simmering for at least one hour or until chicken meat is so tender that it could almost, but not falling from the bone.

6) Serve by dividing the dish into individual smaller bowls with some glutinous rice topped with some meat. Roast the salt and pepper and the diners can dip as they like. This dish can be serve as an individual with one diner having one small chicken in a small pot. You can also chop some spring onions to sprinkle on dish.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Avenue of the Stars

We spent 7 days in Hong Kong in total, & the closest we ever got to seeing movie stars was at Avenue of the Stars at the Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront Promenade.

Avenue of the Stars is a long stretch of tiled esplanade that stretches from the clock tower (near the Cultural Centre & the ferrypoint/wharf) all the way to the other end. It's probably about 1 km long.
The walkway is lined with cemented hand prints of Hong Kong movie stars just like in the Hollywood.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame guarded by Darth Vader's Storm Trooper.

That was Hollywood, but this was Hong Kong.

Oh look! There's Datuk Michelle Yeoh!

And Cecelia Cheung Pak Chi

And Jackie Chan!

And Maggie Cheung!

Nee went beserk over Jacky Cheung. I almost lost her... but she came back.

Along the way, there were cartoony souvenier stalls that make lots of money from ang mo tourists.

And as you walk further down, it gets more & more cartoony.

At some point, you're beginning to wonder if this was Disneyland.

There was even a small souvenier shop that sold Hong Kong movie memorabillias, but it was closed.

I thought this action figure was the coolest.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once,
but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” (Bruce Lee)

It was obvious that Bruce Lee was the largest star of all. He was larger than life itself.

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless - like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” (Bruce Lee)

Bruce Lee has a tendency to speak in quote-like manner, like the old grandmaster of Kung Fu who lives in a cave high in the mountains,

or like Yoda.

And of all Bruce Lee's quotes, I find this one to be the most thought provoking.

“If you make an ass out of yourself, there will always be someone to ride you” (Bruce Lee)

Oh by the way, I almost forgot to tell you - I won an award.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Touristy Tsim Sha Tsui

On our third night in Hong Kong, we were back in Kowloon. Our double decker dropped us at Tsim Sha Tsui which was basically a touristy place. The ride from Hong Kong island was about HKD7. By taxi would have cost about HKD45 including toll charges.

Tsim Sha Tsui (in pink) means Sandy Mouth, as in the river mouth. That's in Cantonese. In Hokkien, it'd sound something like Chim Ka Chui (Soak Leg Water). I just thought that I should point that out in case it might be useful to know.

Well, if you're a tourist in Hong Kong, this is the place to be. The ferry stops here, so do the taxis & the buses. And a long, long time ago, even the train stopped here.

That explains the clock tower which is still standing till today.

This is the famous wharf where TVB series characters always end up here to do 'projects' or to trash things out or to do some deep soul searching.

And from here, you can see the beautiful lights & skyscrapers across the body of water on the other side, on Hong Kong island.

But that night was really foggy. The buildings looked like they were on fire.

Oh, the most prominent building there has got to be the Hong Kong Cultural Centre!
Oh What sheer gargantuan magnitude! Oh what beauty arising into the night sky!

They even had Palm Trees, Californian Hollywood style.

The mighty collosus.
The first thought that came into my mind when I saw this building was 'Holy Star Wars! Darth Vader created a new Death Star, & it's in Tsim Sha Tsui!'
And before long, his Storm Troopers came out.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Hong Kong Tunnel Ride

When we were in Hong Kong, we were determined to experience as much as we possibly could in that one week of holiday. In the true Asian spirit of kiasu-ness, we wanted everything, to squeeze every last drop out of the lemon, to drink the well dry, so to speak.

Aside from wanting to eat everything that came our way, we were also curious about the different mode of transportation available to the everyday Hong Kong commuters.

Of course that did not include this.

nor this.

nor this.

nor this.

nor this.

One of the most colourful mode of transportation was the tram. With just a couple of HKD, you could hop on any one of these, & go as far as you can till the end of the track.

With that kind of fare, even riding your own bicycle would not seem very much worth the effort anymore.

However, for some reason, we just didn't get on the trams. I couldn't remember whether it was because it was too slow, or that we were too lazy.

But that night, when we made a trip back to Kowloon again, we took the double decker.

I know this picture probably makes it look like a ride from hell, but actually it's just the speed effect lah.

Oh, you know what? Most of the bus drivers we came across here were not very responsive, at all. They just nodded, pointed & shook their heads. We came to the conclusion that they were actually secret government robot drivers.

But seriously, a more likely explanation could be that they were not allowed to talk when on the job. Such commitment!

The good citizens of Hong Kong on a bus ride minding their own business.

Unlike what you usually see in Hong Kong movies,
the general public behave themselves very well.

There's TV everywhere in Hong Kong but I was just glad the TVB series wasn't on at that time, otherwise Nee wouldn't have let us go down. With more passengers like Nee, the bus companies would be making fast money if they had TVB series on all their rides.

And Wallah! The Hong Kong undersea tunnel!

This was our first time crossing over such a tunnel so we were snapping pictures like silly tourists. It was so uncool. I meant us.

The ride was actually less dramatic than we thought it would be cos the slope downwards were gradual & it didn't really feel like we were underwater.

And before we knew it, we were already coming out on the other side in Kowloon!

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