My new bacon & eggs- Hong Kong style!

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Having lived in Hong Kong for a couple of years, I got to know what was good to eat.  The mix of cuisines is incredible in HK and there’s no telling what you might end up eating if you go wandering.  I wandered.  I ate.  Some dishes stood out.  This is one of those dishes.

Barbecued pork (char sui) is everywhere in Hong Kong.  The soy sauce seasons the pork beautifully and it pops up in a variety of dishes.  One of my favourites was actually one of the first things that I ate upon arriving there.  Not sure what to order in a local spot (in Prince Edward), I pointed to a photograph on the menu of what looked like scrambled eggs and pork.  When it came to the table, I knew there was no going back.  It was beautiful!  Soft eggs, tender char sui and a sprinkling of chopped spring onions.  It was gone before I knew what happened.  Suffice to say that I was a regular after that and only recently did I decide to revisit that dish in my own kitchen.

Belly pork makes your weekend scrambled eggs something special and it’s a fun alternative to what you might normally cook up.  Check it out and see if you want to indulge.

Scrambled eggs & char sui.

400g sliced belly pork

fresh eggs (I use at least 4)

2 spring onions (sliced)

2 tblspoons salted butter

2 tblspoons honey

2 tblspoons dark sauce sauce

3 tspoons Chinese 5 spice

Olive oil

Sea salt

Preheat your oven to 180C and coat the pork slices with a little olive oil.  Don’t use too much- belly pork is fatty enough and when this renders, your baking tray will become filled with too much liquid.  Cook the pork for 30-40 minutes turning once.  The next step is to glaze the pork to add flavour and make it look appetising.

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Mix the soy sauce, honey and five spice together and brush onto the pork.  Put the pork under a grill on medium heat and add more glaze as it begins to crisp up the outer edges.  Try not to burn the pork- instead, turn the slices and continue to brush more glaze on.  You should end up with tender pork covered in a sweet glaze.  Sprinkle a little sea salt on if you need extra seasoning.  Leave the pork to cool slightly while you cook the eggs.

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First things first: scrambled eggs should be made slowly.  If you want soft, buttery eggs, you have to spend some time cooking them gently.  Lot’s of butter.  Low heat.  I always use lots of butter, but you should make it to your won taste.  Heat the butter in a pan on the lowest heat until it is bubbling and turning to foam.  Beat the eggs and pour them in.  Use a wooden spatula to gently move the eggs so that they don’t stick to the bottom.  Try not to keep stirring.  Allow the eggs to set slightly before moving them.

As the eggs begin to come together, throw in some sliced spring onions and finish stirring.  It’s best to take the eggs off the heat early so that they don’t dry out, but remain on the runny side.

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Chop the pork into nice chunks and stir into the eggs before serving.  Simple, but satisfying.

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Admittedly, I didn’t have spring onions on the day I photographed this, but it tasted great regardless.  Having just treated myself to some fantastic Reebok Ventilators, I had a jar of SNS honey from Stockholme which came free with the shoes.  This was the perfect recipe to use it in and I was really pleased with the results.  My new weekend breakfast favourite and a great way to take myself back to Hong Kong memories.

HKday 047

 

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Laos, ‘Nam and jam.

Jam in Japan?  Loaves in Laos?  Well, yes, actually, it’s not all noodles and rice.  Western travellers can enjoy the delights of local cuisine the world over, but sooner or later, the comfort of home comes calling.

You can thank the French for bringing their beautiful bread to Laos.  After jungle treks, boat rides and back packs, believe me, you will.  In Vietnam, street snacks often take the form of small baguettes smothered in  La vache qui rit. I can almost smell the freshly baked, crispy baguettes!

It’s a very personal thing, so I guess that everyone will have their own image of that go-to comfort food.  For my wife, no matter where we go and what we eat, eventually, that yearning for something familiar comes calling.  When it does, there’s nothing I can do to dissuade her; only spaghetti in a rich tomato sauce will do.  Try ordering that in the Mekong Delta.

I’m easier to please.  When I’ve had my fill of local dishes, I think of bread.  Good, fresh bread with butter and jam.  Plenty of jam.  You don’t have to travel to appreciate good bread though.  Recently, a friend (who knows me very well) bought me a beautiful loaf tin filled with very tasty jams, spoons, ribbons, recipe cards and wax discs.  There’s everything needed to make jam and a simple bread recipe to make a loaf too.  Needless to say that I’ve been dying to give it all a try.  Yesterday I got stuck in and made a gorgeous loaf to slice up and pile jam onto.

I used the recipe card that came in the set, but adapted it (the dough was too wet to work with at first).  The loaf came out crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  I’m not a master bread maker, but I’m very happy with it.  Looks like I’ll be eating bread and jam every day this week.

Observe, if you will, the beauty of bread baked at night. Time to fetch the butter.

Honey bread

700g white flour

1 pint warm water

1 tblspoon honey

1 tspoon salt

1 tspoon dried yeast

Sift the flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl.  Stir the honey into the warm water until dissolved and pour into a small well in the middle of the flour.  Use one hand to hold the bowl and the other to mix until you have a dough that will come away from the sides.  If it is too wet, add more flour.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead it gently.  Place into the large prepared loaf tin.  Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove for an hour or so.

After an hour, run a sharp knife down the length of the loaf and drizzle more olive oil on top.  Place in an oven at 180C for about half an hour.  To check if the loaf is done, tip it out carefully and tap the base.  It should have a hollow sound when ready.

Let the loaf cool on a wire rack for a little while.  Then, of course, it’s time to slice it thickly and let butter and jam do the rest.  If you’ll excuse me, I’ve left my loaf unattended and in my house, that’s what is known as a “schoolboy error”.

Joy on a plate.

You’ve just created something and it’s really good.  It’s so good that you want to jump and laugh and shout out, so you do.  Then you want to go and tell someone, show someone and point at what you’ve created and exclaim, “Look what I made!”  Joy is kindled.

As an adult, there seem to be fewer and fewer of those moments.  Children seem to be constantly in the throes of creation and discovery is just around every ordinary corner.  Imagine the reaction I just wrote about happening in my kitchen about a year ago.  I’d just finished making barbecue ribs without the help of a book, a friend, or that white page with the little box for you to type in a question and click enter.  I’d just finished making barbecue ribs, I did it on my own, they were wondrous and they were mine.  Now I’m going to share the recipe for them.

My recipe for sweet and sticky barbecue ribs is tailor-made for domestic kitchens.  I know that you can get amazing results by cooking outside and getting so much smoke and flavour from blah blah blah.  Let’s get a cab and head for Real Street.  I live in a wet and windy part of the world with only glimpses of sunshine and a default setting of grey with a chance of greyer.  If you’re blessed enough to live in the sun and are adept at cooking outdoors, then…can I come and stay with you for a while?

The ribs require two hours of uninterrupted cooking, so plan ahead.  You’ll also have to trust me on a couple of things; namely the amount of sugar in the recipe.  I used all the things that I love for the ribs.  You could easily adapt the recipe for your own taste.

Sweet & sticky barbecue ribs

1 sheet of pork ribs

500g light brown sugar

40g garlic salt

1 tblspoon chilli flakes

half cup water

(For the glaze)

4 tblspoons clear honey

2 tblspoons dark soy sauce

3 tblspoons barbecue sauce

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.  Place the ribs in a roasting tin ready for the rub.  Pour the garlic salt and the chilli flakes into a pestle and mortar and grind for a few minutes.  Rub this all over the ribs including the underside, making sure to be thorough.  Next, tip all of the sugar onto the top of the ribs and pat it down so that you have a thick layer of sugar on top with no meat uncovered.  I’m serious, trust me!

Pour the water into the bottom of the roasting tin (not over the ribs).  The water is going to help steam the meat during cooking.  This will keep it moist and soft.  Cover the roasting tin with two layers (or more) of foil and make a tight seal around the outside.  We don’t want any of that wonderful steam to escape.

Cook in the centre of the oven for two hours.  Don’t be tempted to take a peek lest all that steam disappear.

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About five minutes before the ribs are due out of the oven, mix all the glaze ingredients together with a pastry brush in a little pot or ramekin.  Take the ribs out of the oven and carefully remove the foil.  Fire up your grill (or broiler if you’re from over the pond) ready for the final part.  The ribs will now be cooked through, but looking rather pale and sad.  Time to glaze!

Place the ribs on another tray lined with foil.  Brush the ribs with the glaze and put them under the grill on a medium heat.  As the glaze sets, remove the ribs and brush them with more glaze.  Continue to do this until you run out of glaze.  The idea is to build up sticky layers.  It won’t be long before the sugar in the glaze caramelizes and begins to burn at the edges giving you lovely crispy bits and oodles of flavour.  Did I just say oodles?  Hmmm…I’ve not seen that in type before.  Anyway, don’t panic if edges begin to burn.  A little here and there is perfect.  Just keep a close eye on the ribs because sugar burns quickly.

That’s it!  Done!  Now you just need to cut them up for your friends and soak up the silence as everyone tucks in.  There’s nothing like the slience that settles upon a table of happy eaters.  It’s up there with “Look what I made!”

Honey & cinnamon smoothie

I’ve never liked the taste of milk.  Even as a youngster, I was one of the children who did not have milk at school and though I tried desperately to like it, my opinion did not change over the years.

Chocolate milk is a different story altogether.  Early memories of drinking it through a straw dropped into the triangular hole made by my mum’s tin opener remain with me to this day.  There was a rabbit on the front of the tin and complete contentment in my whole being.  Chocolate milk soothes me in a way that very few other food stuffs do.  Super cold, super sweet and super refreshing.  It evokes memories of being in my mum’s kitchen in Greece and it comforts me no end.  Childish, yes, but it has benefits too, since I need my share of calcium and protein too.  Okay, the sugar doesn’t benefit my teeth, but ask me if I’m worried.

Chocolate milk may be my go-to drink at any time of day, but after years of hitting the stuff hard, my eyes began to wander.  I needed a new sweet milky drink.  Drinking Carnation condensed milk wasn’t gonna be sustainable.  Thankfully, upon moving to Hong Kong, I found a wonderful smoothie joint that had an endless menu of smoothies with all kinds of exciting ingredients and combinations.  I quickly became hooked on these fruit-filled blends of health and goodness.  It wasn’t long before I’d purchased my own blender, partly so that I could experiment, and largely because my wife could see that I was spending a silly amount of money on what was essentially ice and mushy fruit.

I’m not the biggest fan of fruit so blending them up with other tasty ingredients is ideal for me.  After moving back to England, the blender went into the back of the cupboard.  “Next to the toastie machine?” I hear you ask.  No!  I make toasties all the time!  What’s the matter with you?

Now I’m back in full blender mode and throwing in all sorts to appease my monstrous desire for tasty fun.  I went through a phase of adding milk, chocolate milk powder and a slice of cherry pie before blending it all.  I’ve been going through packets of Oreos in recent weeks as they have found themselves thrown into the milky depths of my blender.  Today, I tried something a little more healthy.  I blended 450ml semi-skimmed milk, 5 tablespoons of honey flavoured Greek style yoghurt, half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a tablespoon of Greek mountain honey.  It was delicious, but not sugary enough for me, so I threw in a load of Demerara sugar to make it hit the spot.  I’ll be trying lot’s of different things over the next few weeks, but if anyone has any suggestions, let me know and I’ll give ’em a whirl!

There seems to be a theme here…