Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Standing Chicken, and More Cantonese Calories at I Delicious

Standing Chicken, or Gentleman's Chicken (or really, crispy skinned Chicken)
When I was shown a picture that was very similar to the one above, I said two things. 1) Where is it? and 2) When are we going? The first question was actually unnecessary because I honestly don't care if I had to be taken there blindfolded, that chicken was too cute* to miss.

The chicken, portioned and served
The chicken had a brilliantly crispy skin. This is a textbook crispy chicken, or "zha zhi gai" or 炸子雞. I'm guessing that the reason why they came up with the "standing" gesture was because traditionally, the chicken would be hung by a hook, and boiling oil would be ladled over the chicken until it gradually cooked. This method gives the cook good control of the done-ness of the chicken, as deep-frying can often lead to uneven dryness.

Smoked eggs
These were the nicest smoked eggs I've had in a long time. Not only were they smoky, they had also been marinated (or perhaps cooked) in a soy-based broth, giving them much more flavour. As you can tell from the picture, the yolks and egg whites were also cooked to perfection. Gooey egg yolks. Mmm.

"Jur Jur" Tung Choi 
This was Ipomoea aquatica, also known as water spinach (in this case, white water spinach) or kangkung in Malaysia. I mention Malaysia in particular because this dish is quite similar to kangkung stir-fried with belachan. Cantonese cooking usually doesn't feature as much spice, so in this rendition, there are simply some cut chillies inside. It's cooked in a style we call "jur jur" (which also happens to be what children call penises, go figure), which is basically heating up an empty ceramic pot until it gets super hot, taking it off the heat, then using the heat of the pot to cook the ingredients. It's popular for veggies that wilt easily, such as Chinese lettuce and water spinach, as shown here. That's the general idea, but in reality, a lot of slightly spicy dishes cooked in ceramic pots (heated by an external source all the way) are still called jur jur, like jur jur chicken pot, although the heat retention of the pot means you usually get more caramelisation and the dish stays piping hot for longer.

Deep fried gluten ball filled with mushrooms
This is the first time I've ever heard of, let alone had, this dish. T recognised it from a vegetarian restaurant and I was keen to try it. It has a weird-sounding name - mong mong tsin gun 網網千斤 - and I originally thought it featured caul fat (which would render it non-vegetarian, I'm such a dumb*ss) because of the word "mong", which means net. Caul fat in Chinese is "mong yau", or net fat. The casing was in fact balls or bubbles of gluten, called "sang gun" in Chinese. They're basically starch. Inside were a mixture of heavily seasoned woodear mushrooms and shitakes. They were a bit too salty for me, but I understand the need for seasoning as sang gun has no flavour to speak of.

Fried pastry twists with syrup and desiccated coconut
For dessert (why the heck was I able to fit dessert in? I had just come to this dinner from an epic pastry eating fest disguised as the Pierre Herme HK shop launch), we had "daan saan". Daan means egg, and saan means to fall apart. These were flakier than other daan saans I've had, and were dusted in desiccated coconut as well as drizzled with usual golden syrup. It suddenly occurred to me that we could make an Epic Mealtime episode out of these by just layering more and more sugary foods on top (and of course, bacon). It would totally work.

*Now, I find it intriguing that, after posting this photo on social media, several people claimed they didn't want to eat this. What was implied that this was on account on how it looked. These people were not vegetarians, but were reportedly disturbed. I don't quite understand how this works - if you have no moral dilemmas about eating meat, why is having a bit of fun with the presentation of a meat dish a problem? Am I abusing the animal? Am I not giving it the respect it deserves? Look, I'm not mocking you guys who have a problem with seeing whole, cooked animals in funny poses, I'm asking this as someone totally ignorant as to why you would feel that way. I am, in fact, being a little judgmental here, because in my opinion, if you have problem seeing whole animals, you shouldn't be eating meat, full stop. But I really do want to know - what goes through your head when you see a whole animal? Why are you uncomfortable with it? And thusly, why are you then comfortable with eating animals in dislocated parts?

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  1. I don't understand, either. A number of people have said they are disturbed by how the suckling pig looked at Catalunya, but a dead piggy is a dead piggy. You ordered and asked for it, which meant it died for the purpose of giving you pleasure. Who cares how it looks?!

  2. adding to the list of eats! the first photo made me giggle! Btw, loving the new blog design!!!! xxx