Friday, April 18, 2008

Szechuan Hot and Sour Noodles

This is one dish which I would cook when we need something to stir up our appetite. The spiciness and sourness is in the Szechuan style. Please kindly be reminded that this is different from the Szechuan spicy noodle (Ma Lak) mien.

250 gm to 300gm of 5 flower pork cut or any other tender cut for stir frying
1 small piece of szechuan perserved vegetables, washed and soak really well and sliced to thin strips
1 medium piece of winter bamboo, sliced to thin strips
4-5 pieces of medium dried shitake mushroom, soaked and sliced to thin strips
1/2 tbsp of chopped garlic
1 stalk of spring onion
2 tbsp of oil

Meat seasoning:
1/2 teasp of salt and pepper
1 tbsp of cornstarch + 1 tbsp of water
1 tbsp of chicken powder seasoning
1/2 tbsp of sugar

2 tbsp of szechuan hot bean paste
3 tbsp of dark vineger
1 tbsp of sugar
1 tbsp of dark soya
1 tsbp of sesame oil
500gm of superior chicken stock (or 500 gm of water with 1/2 tbsp of chicken seasoning powder)
pepper and sugar to taste, no more salt please.

1) Clean the pork and slice to thin strips. Season with the meat seasoning and set aside for 1/2 hour. Coating with cornflour will give the meat a smooth, tender texture upon cooking and becasue of this, you wont need to use too much cornflour to thicken the sauce later.

2) Soak the szechuan vegies well before cutting to get rid of the saltiness. But don't over do it as it can become bland.

3) Heat up wok with oil. Add garlic and stir fry till golden brown. Add pork meat and stir fry till the outer part of meat turns a little white. Add mushrooms, winter bamboo, and szechuan vegies. Add hot bean paste. Stir fry all ingredients until well mixed and coated with oil and hot bean paste.

4) Add rest of sauce ingredients including the 500 ml of chicken stock. And boil. Turn to simmer till meat is tender and cooked. Add 1 1/2 tablespoon of cornflour with 1 tbsp water to thicken the sauce. If you like the soup version, omit the cornflour but add 1 to 1.2 litre of superior chicken stock to boil.

5)Place the meat & sauce generously on top fresh homemade noodles (taiwanese style or la mien) and serve with green vegies like chai sim or xioa bai chai.

You have to use Szechuan style hot bean paste. There is no substitute except for maybe the Taiwan Hot Bean Paste, which comes in a small jar. Both are available at Tabuan Laru UNACO.

Even though my noodle making skills are not exactly there, it is difficult to resort back to eating/buying commercial made noodles. So I always insist on making my own noodles if I cook dishes such as this. The only noodle that comes close is available at Petanak Market in Kuching. Their noodles are made daily and they supply to Ting's Noodles in Kuching. Look for the plump lady.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mak's Noodles

Mak's Noodles are featured in a lot of travel guide and is considered one of the must go eateries in Hong Kong. The noodles there are supposed to be a-hand-me-down recipe from the previous generation, and is made of duck eggs.

This differs from the usual ones that are made of chicken eggs. The broth is cooked and simmered extensively.

We missed this place two nights before cos it was already closed when we got there. So, in high anticipation and eagerness we ordered these.

The noodles come in a Chinese soup bowl. Yes, Chinese bowl, & not the normal soup bowl. So the size is ridiculously small. For the price ranging from HKD22 to HKD 35, the noodle portion is TINY.

Compared to Tsim's noodles, which is the shop just directly across the street, Mak's prices are definitely doubled, while the size incredibly shrinks by 50%.

The verdict: The first mouthful is excellent. The noodle is so al dente and the soup is very tasty, bursting with various flavours. This indicates good and proper simmering.

But as we ate on, and by the end of the tiny bowl, I for some reason tasted and smelled a distinct hint of ammonia or something similar. And it is definitely from the noodles as it seeps into the soup. are the noodles really that fresh after all?!!!

Mak's Score: Close to 8/10. Good but DEFINITELY NOT the Best Wanton Noodles in Hong Kong.

Note: They are strict when it comes to their closing time. They are not beginning to close at 8, they are all SHUT by 8.

A Journey to the Centre of Hong Kong

On our 4th day in Hong Kong, we took a walk from Wan Chai (where we were staying) all the way to Central (Chung Wan). To get an idea of how far that was, see the map below.

Now, normally you'd be able to take the MRT all the way there, but when you do that, all you'd get to see are the MRT underground tunnels.

But secretly, the real reason for walking was mostly because we ate too much dim sum for breakfast & we needed to burn them off.

Central, being the central business district of Hong Kong, is the centre of everything.

For Nee, this is the centre of her world. This building has been featured on countless TVB series, usually with the expensive Office Ladies & career women walking around in their designer clothes, shoes & handbags. For Nee, she just needed to have a piece of the action. Kinda like being able to dip soya sauce (oon tao eew) also syok.

Everything important that you can find in Hong Kong is here, like multinational finance companies & their headquarters.

This is the great HSBC building.

More buildings.

And some more.

Then there's the golden building.

You must have noticed by now that my captions are getting very generic & useless.

That's simply because I don't have a single clue what these buildings are.

And of course, the world famous I.M. Pei design.

Central is also a place where you can find consulates general.

Also government headquarters & the administrative centre of Great China.

Also expensive shops which sell expensive cars.

Nee is feeling very expensive.

She looks like she's smiling, but then again, she looks like she's crying at the same time. In the end, the walk was killing our backs & feet. I grew big calf muscles that day.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dim Sum in Hong Kong

It's strange. In Hong Kong, it was easier to find good wonton noodles than good dim sum places. Don't get us wrong, dim sum is everywhere in Hong Kong. In fact, you might just trip over a few on the streets if you're not careful enough. They're all over the place. The problem was that we didn't really know where to find the most authentic ones. I guess dim sum is just that common there.

Apparently, according to our secret source (an old taxi driver who drove us back from Tsim Sha Tsui), there was a place worth trying out near our hotel.

Due to my extremely limited Cantonese vocabulary, the only way I could make sense of the restaurant's name is to associate the 'Wah' in 'Wing Wah' to 'Waaaaah, so delicious.'

I couldn't remember whether I took any photos of the restaurant interior. I thought I did but I couldn't find them. Anyway, there were a lot of old people there, having their breakfast in their own sweet time with the newspapers in front of them. I guess they deserve that kind of life after all those years of hardwork. I felt a bit guilty there, like I should be in the office working instead of holidaying. ;P

Anyway, here's what we had.

Nothing spectacular but everything seemed to taste good. I guess even the lousiest dim sum here is better than Kuching's best anytime.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Roast Pork ~ Foochow Style

My mum-in-law cooked this dish well. And Greg always think that his mum's version is the best. Hmpphhh.... Anyway, this is roasting pork in the Foochow way and it is usually home cooked. Another dish that is cooked with our famous U'ang Chow.

500-600 gm of 3 layered meat strip, get those with distinct layers
1 heaped tbsp of U'ang chow
3 tbsp of light soya sauce
2 tbsp of sugar
1 teasp of salt and pepper

1) Clean and wash the pork strip. Keep the strip at a width of 1 inch or so. Poke the top layer of meat at the skin part rigorously with a sharp knife. Rub salt and pepper.

2) Seasoned with U'ang Chow, sugar and light soya. Leave overnight in refridgerator to season or at least 3 hours.

3) Preheat the oven at fan mode and bake at 170 deg cel. Roast the top side for 15 min and extra 15 min each on both side. Turn oven to grill mode at 200 deg cel and grill the meat for 5-10 min to sear the meat. You can do all these on a rack over a shallow pan of water to prevent smoking your oven and whole kitchen.

4) Cut the meat into thin pieces and serve with good quality dark soya sauce mixed with chilli padis and a few dash of maggi seasoning.

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