Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon - Afternoon Tea So Fancy, Wah

Tiered afternoon tea at Salon de The de Joel Robuchon - so dainty, so fancy, wah
This is a gonna be a pretty short post because there isn't much to report about the JR afternoon tea at the Elements branch. The food is perfectly fine. In fact, it's all very well done, and I rather liked the cranberry scones, although they could be a) a bit larger, b) less dense, and c) warm.

Can I just add that the matte black tiers are chic, but when you remove a moist sandwich or pastry from it, it leaves a greasy smudge. Not so chic. Clearly, the person who designed it has never touched food.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Accidental Cantonese Bak Chor Mee - In The Mood For Noodles

My Cantonese-ified bak chor mee - a vegetarian version with eggplant
So I received in the mail a hefty box of Kang Kang noodles (thanks, Catchon, and no, this is not a sponsored post) and to be honest, I'm not a natural noodle fan. I don't hate them, they're just not the kind of carb I can have all the time, I have to be in the "mood"*. I was going through the box - kway teow, silver needle noodles, Hokkien yellow noodles - nope, nope, nope, not feeling it - and then I saw Hokkien flat noodles and ding! ding! ding! I felt like having 濕炒 (sup chao, or wet-fry. Sounds yuck in English but basically a stir-fry with a heavier "wetter" gravy).

I found some pork mince in my fridge, and pictured a glossy coffee-hued gravy, so I dug out my dried shiitakes, some dried morel crumbs and Mrs. So's mushroom sauce, and oh, vegetarian oyster sauce, which tastes nothing like oyster sauce but more like hyper-concentrated mushrooms with the consistency of oyster sauce. As I was cooking, I found it all a little too savoury, so I added a couple of glugs of dark Chinkiang (Zhenjiang) vinegar and finished it off palm sugar, Chiuchow chilli sauce and black & white pepper.

It was delicious - and I feel weird about saying this about my own cooking, because I'm not exactly a genius cook (which is why I like restaurants... maybe?) and almost immediately after eating it I realised that I was, in fact, subconsciously trying to recreate bak chor mee.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Seventh Son - Cantonese Perfection

Dim sum at Seventh Son is perfection
Cantonese food is what I grew up on, and as I get older, I find myself appreciating it more and more, and having less tolerance for bad versions (am I going to end up one of those grumpy old people?).

I've been to Seventh Son about a dozen times since they opened last year, mostly for lunch (dim sum), but a few times for dinner too, and it has quickly become a firm favourite. There have been so few Chinese openings of note recently and I'm only too happy to have found a new, reliable standby.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dynasty 8, Macau - Decent Dim Sum

Ham shui gok 鹹水角 at Dynasty 8, Conrad Macau
The title says it all. The dim sum at Dynasty 8 was decent. Out of the six things we had, one was excellent (rice paper rolls with barbecued pork), one was good (flaky chicken pastries), three were ok (har gow, ham shui gok, fried sesame balls with custard), and one was weird (soup dumplings), but ok. There's really no need to read past the jump, but if you must...

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Tasting Room by Galliot, Macau

Smoked egg with black winter truffle at The Tasting Room by Gaillot, Macau
Macau, Asia's try-hard attempt at Las Vegas, has seemed to serve a certain function in Hongkonger's vacationing habits that isn't dissimilar to its American counterpart. It's not the first time I'd been to Macau for hen's nights (that's a bachelorette party, non-Aussies) and big birthday bashes. The latter was the purpose of this trip, and this meal at The Tasting Room, and at the risk of sounding like a spoiled brat, we'd all been to Robuchon and wanted to try something different. Plus, it was about time to test run our expensive handbags on different bag stools... I kid.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Eating in Longyearbyen, Svalbard - The Northernmost Restaurants in the World

Yes, snowshoeing in Longyearbyen made me hungry, but the vast emptiness made me hungrier.
There's a certain hunger that strikes when you're in the Arctic Circle, 78 degrees north of the equator and about 1000km from the nearest decent-sized city (Tromsø). It has nothing to do with grumbles, caloric intake, or styaing warm, rather, it's a hunger brought on by a subtle but unshakable sense of anxiety of being in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and being completely useless in fending for yourself should anything happen.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Hot Pot at Da Hong Pao

Pic from Da Hong Pao (sorry)
In its simplest form, all you need for hot pot (or steamboat, or Chinese fondue) is stock, or even water, and whatever ingredients you want to (and are able to) cook quickly in soup. It was always something I'd had at home - after all, you can spend less, and buy better ingredients. However, being in Hong Kong, where you can nary do a u-turn in your own apartment, having friends over for hotpot is quite a challenge, let alone having the space to prep everything and spread it all out.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Cooking Questions - To Brine Or Not To Brine

Should I brine these? (image via South Park Studios)
Around Christmastime, home cooks find themselves cooking larger cuts of meat, whole animals and the like, because we're generally feeding larger groups of people. No-one likes dry meat, and one of the eternal questions about cooking meat is brining.

Harold McGee, everyone's favourite food scientist, says that brining takes away the meat's own juices and flavours (because osmosis), and/but the salt breaks down some of the proteins so the meat will end up more tender (or mushy, if it was already very tender, or it it's been brined too long).

Breaking it down, the pros of brining are:
- Super duper juiciness
- Tender meat
- Meat flavoured with salt (which I suppose can also be a con)

And the cons:
- Meat juices (and thus flavour) lost and replaced with salty plain water
- Potential meat mushiness
- No brown pan juices from roasting

McGee recommends rubbing meat with salt and leaving it for a day or two ("dry brining") instead. With this method, however, it appears that dryness in the meat is a given, as is suggested in his article for the New York Times (he talks about serving turkey like pulled pork, with a ladle of sauce over the top). Question is, is compensating with a good sauce good enough?

Given the horror stories of dry meats at parties (I've sure eaten my fair share), I'm personally still a fan of brining. Your timing has to be right - over-brining can lead to awfully tasteless results, and I've found that lean, white meat in particular do benefit from brining, and when its dry, meat can be horrible to eat, no matter how flavoursome it might be. With calculated, minimal brining time, I've found that a balance of flavour and moisture can be attained*. I guess like most things in life, brining is a delicate balancing act.

Basic brine recipe: 1 litre of water to 4 tablespoons salt.

*Although I did learn from Harold that adding aromatics into the brine (herbs, veggies) etc. is pretty useless as those flavour molecules are mostly too big to penetrate the meat (see point 6 here). I've been using salt, water, onions, leeks, bay leaves and black peppercorns for lean pork chops, and Pioneer Woman's turkey brine for poultry. I'll try just using salt next time to test that theory out.

Happy Holidays!