Cookbook 160: Hong Kong Food City

Wow, this is a lot of cookbooks. Hong Kong Food City by Tony Tan is a new addition to my bookshelf, because I have had so many people rave to me about the food of and in Hong Kong, and I can’t travel for the foreseeable future, so recipe books it is.

I like that this cookbook not only talks about the brands of certain sauces that you should buy, and the types of places you can get them, but also gives you information as to where you can try this dish in Hong Kong if we’re ever allowed to travel internationally again.

Tony Tan is a very well renowned chef (who does not have a wikipedia page), so you can trust that the recipes in this book have been well researched and thought about before being published. The one gripe I have with the recipes that I made was that one of them didn’t give guidance on approximately how long something should be deep fried, and the answer was longer than I did. Otherwise the recipes were delicious and we’d cook them again. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Stir-fried chicken with lap cheong and snow peas (serves 2 – 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 slice ginger
  • 200g chicken thigh fillets, thinly sliced
  • 1 lap cheong sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 250g snow peas, trimmed
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Method:

  1. Put the oil into a hot wok, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 20 seconds.
  2. Add the chicken and lap cheong and stir-fry until the chicken starts to colour.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the Shaoxing rice wine, then add the snow peas, oyster sauce and the chicken stock.
  4. Increase the heat to high and cook until the snow peas are just tender. Check the seasoning and adjust with salt and white pepper, drizzle with sesame oil and serve with steamed rice.

Notes on this recipe:

  • Quick, easy and delicious. I generally don’t like snowpease (snopes in this house) because they, like peas, taste like grass. The combination of flavours in this recipe meant that they tasted delicious instead.

Lotus root “meatballs” with roast tomato sauce (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Basil to garnish

Meatballs:

  • 250g lotus root
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • vegetable oil for deep frying

Roast tomato sauce:

  • 1kg Roma tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 large handful of basil
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • pinch of chilli powder
  • 1.5 tsp coconut sugar (or jaggery or brown sugar)

Method:

  1. To make the roast tomato sauce, cut a cross at the base of each tomato, place in a large heat-proof bowl, pour boiling water over to cover and leave for 2 – 3 minutes until the skin starts to curl. Drain, peel and half the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and blend in a food processor until smooth.
  2. In a large saucepan, fry the cumin seeds, ground cumin and garam masala in oil until fragrant. Add the processed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, rosemary, thyme and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes or until the mixture is reduced to a thick, chunky sauce-like consistency. Add the chilli powder and coconut sugar. Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and sugar, and keep warm.
  3. Peel the lotus root, chop into chunks and put in a saucepan. Cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for at least 20 minutes or until cooked through. Drain and allow to cool.
  4. Pulse the lotus root in a food processor until coarsely diced. Add the spices, season with salt and pulse until combined. While mixing, gradually add chickpea flour until the mixture comes together as dough.
  5. Heat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan to 170 – 180C or until a cube of bread turns golden brown in 10 seconds.
  6. Divide the dough into balls the size of a ping-pong ball and deep fry until browned and cooked through. Serve with tomato sauce and garnish with basil.

Notes on this recipe:

  • The texture and taste were good, my only complaint is that I wasn’t sure how long to cook them for – but we needed to fry them for longer. I’d say make them a deep brown in colour (they start off brownish thanks to the spices)
  • We used frozen lotus root in this recipe, and that worked.

Fish-fragrant eggplant (serves 6 – 8)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp caster sugar, or to taste
  • 2 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 2 eggplants, cut into finger-sized strips
  • 4 spring onions, white part only, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 – 2 tbsp doubanjiang (Sichuan chilli bean paste)
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tbsp potato flour (or cornflour) mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • Thinly sliced spring onions, to garnish

Method:

  1. Mix the sugar, Chinkiang vinegar and chicken stock in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil for deep-frying in a wok over medium-high heat to 180C or until it begins to smoke. Add the eggplant in batches and deep-fry for 3 – 4 minutes per batch until just golden on the outside and soft inside. Life out carefully with a slotted spoon onto paper towel to drain.
  3. Carefully pour the oil into a heatproof container (reserve for another use). Wipe out the wok with paper towel, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved oil and place over medium heat. Add the spring onions, ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds until fragrant, then add the doubanjiang and stir-fry until fragrant (again); if the wok gets too hot, reduce the heat or lift it off the stove briefly.
  4. Return the eggplant to the wok, deglaze the pan with the Shaoxing rice win, then add the vinegar-chicken stock mixture. Reduce the heat and simmer until the stock is reduced slightly.
  5. Add the potato (or cornflour) mixture and stir gently until the sauce thickens. Transfer to a serving platter, scatter with spring onions, and serve.

Notes on this recipe:

  • This is one of my favourite recipes to eat in Chinese restaurants for lunch (if I’m not having mapo tofu). I was so excited that this recipe book had this recipe in it, and I had to cook it.
  • As you can see from my photo, the eggplant turned to goop. This was not a problem (unless you don’t like goopy eggplant texture like James). If I had cooked the eggplant for slightly less, or had floured it before deep frying it, it would have been more cohesive and crunchy. Lessons for another time.
  • I would totally cook this again, though I might not use 2 tbsp of the doubanjiang sauce next time, so I can eat more of it quicker.

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