Tuesday, March 22, 2011

If I was a Honky, where would I eat?

So, it's been a couple of years since I lived in the old colony, but there is not a day that passes where I miss the people, the smells, the colour and above all, the food. If I was to find myself perched on death row, there would be little hesitation in leaning on my memories of Cantonese food for comfort in my final hours. That unfortunate scenario wouldn't open up many options of where to eat, but would easily allow me, in theory the choice of what to eat.
During my time there (Hong Kong, not prison) I ate regally, ate often, ate uniquely, and ate inspired. While there are too many places I partook in dining, for each one of these, there are 50 more that I never got the chance to sample. There will be time still to try and knock a few of those off the list I'd hope. Fun Gwor (steamed rice flour dumplings filled with pork, shrimp and bamboo shoots) in Shau Kei Wan. Fish Ball Noodles in Aberdeen (the first meal I even had in HK. The Char Siu over rice at Joy Hing's on Hennessy Road. The Peking Roast Duck at Spring Deer in Tsim Sha Tsui (which is way less of a con job than what the Roast Goose you get for your dollar at the tourist trap that is Yung Kee. The wonton noodle at Chim Chai Kee on Wellington Street. The Har Gau at Luk Yu Tea House on D'Aguilar Street. Chiu Chow in Kowloon City.
The weird and the wonderfulness of hot pot anywhere in Causeway Bay. The most amazing Roast Pigeon at the brilliant Tai Ping Koon in Yau Ma Tei. Typhoon shelter Crab on Lockhart Road - the kind of crab that rips the roof of your mouth off with the garlic it's packing (try a Guinness as a reliever) The bizzarly delicious Beef Tendon Noodles at Niu Gen Mein in Jordan. Chou Doufu (Stinky Tofu, like really stinky by the way) in Prince Edward. 
The stewed chicken feet and perfectly crispy skinned Siu Yuk they do at Lei Garden. The Congee from Ho Hung Kee in Causeway Bay. The sticky wok fried Razor Clams at Lamcombe on Lamma Island. The delicate beauty of the Beijing style Dumplings in soup they do at Wang Fu on Wellington Street. The thick wide flat noodles with Beef (Hor Fun) they have at Tak Cheong on Electric Street in Tin Hau. I need to stop now before I feel any more faint...

Monday, March 21, 2011

A first day of spring risotto

As the weather does finally seem to have turned the corner, and today being the first official day of the new season, I think we're finally done with red meat stews for a while, and it is now time to lighten the fridge up a little. This is not a particularly authentic risotto in the true sense, as its low on rice and high on vegetables, but that is just the point of the 'spring' bit. If any of the vegetables prove elusive you can double up on your favourite or substitute young broad beans (my favourite)

1 bunch asparagus
2 red onions
2 pints (just over 1 litre) water
6oz/200g sprouting broccoli
3 tblsp olive oil for cooking
½ tsp salt
5oz/150g risotto rice
½ glass (4fl oz/125ml) white wine
1 tsp tomato purée
6oz/200g garden peas
2oz/50g cold butter
2oz/50g freshly grated Parmesan
Salt to taste
Handful chopped mint or basil

Peel and dice the onions. Reserve the skins, tops and tails. Trim the asparagus
and chop finely, reserving the woody ends of the stems and any peelings. Add the onion skins and asparagus trimmings to the water and simmer for 20 minutes.

Strain and return to the heat so that it simmers next to your risotto pan.
Trim the broccoli and chop the tender part of the stem and florets finely. Set
aside with the asparagus. Heat the oil in a wide-bottomed pan and add the
onions and salt. Stir, reduce the heat and cover. Sweat for 10-15 minutes,
checking to make sure the onions don’t catch.

Turn up the heat and add the rice. Stir it through and add the wine. Let it bubble
and reduce by half, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Stir in the tomato
purée, asparagus, broccoli and peas. Add just enough stock to cover everything.
Cook, stirring gently, until all the stock has been absorbed. Add just enough
stock to cover again, and repeat the process.

When this stock has been absorbed remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the
butter and cheese and cover. Let it rest for five minutes, then season, add the
herbs and serve. Contrary to popular myth it isn’t necessary to douse a risotto
like this with more cheese at the table if you've added the right amount in the kitchen.