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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6000 miles and a ferry ride to chocolate heaven.

Thousands of lights sparkled on the water as little tug boats puttered across the black harbour.  I knew it was going to be a special night.  My mum and brother were coming to visit us and were arriving early evening.  That meant we could take them into the city and give them a great meal!  When they arrived, we spent an hour or two drinking champagne, laughing together and gazing out at my favourite skyline in the world.

We took a ferry across the harbour and made our way to a popular Australian-run restaurant.  I’d chosen it specifically because of their great puddings and if there’s one thing that lights up my mum’s world, it’s a good pudding.  The finale to the meal was Mars bar cheesecake and some chocolate filo parcels with chocolate sauce for pouring.  My mum was in chocolate heaven, and to this day, I think those little parcels of molten indulgence were the highlight of her trip to Hong Kong.

I’ve been dying to make these for a few years now and finally, very late last night, I did.  Realising that there was no need to make a ganache or mess around with hazelnuts and other distractions, I grabbed the filo out of the fridge and a bar of chocolate and fired up the oven.  I knew exactly what I was going to do and I knew it would take a matter of minutes.

Twelve minutes later, I bit into the crispy filo, felt the warm chocolate ooze onto my tongue and was transported back to that night in Hong Kong.  My mum doesn’t know it yet, but soon she’ll be back in Hong Kong too; and this time, she won’t have to fly six thousand miles.

Chocolate filo parcels

100g of your favourite chocolate

filo pastry

salted butter (melted)

icing sugar

Lay one sheet of filo on a dry surface and brush all over with melted butter.  Gently lay another sheet of filo over the top and smooth it out.  Use a plastic spatula to cut squares with sides measuring about two inches.  Place a square of chocolate in the middle and brush melted butter around it.  Lift the corners to the middle, pinch and twist them gently to seal the parcel.

Brush a line of melted butter onto a baking tray and place each parcel along this line.  Finally, brush a little more (yes, more!) melted butter onto the parcels and put them into the oven at 200 degrees Celsius until they are golden.  They’ll take around six or seven minutes.  Remove the parcels from the oven and place them gently on kitchen paper to cool slightly.  Taking a bite now will leave you with plenty of burns to your mouth, so resist the urge and give them some time.  Dust the parcels with icing sugar and serve.

I’ve tried a few different ideas using the filo parcel premise.  I’ve put half a glace cherry inside with a square of chocolate on top (it worked, but you’ll have to make the filo square slightly bigger).  Serving this at the end of a meal means you can have fun by serving a trio of white, milk and dark chocolate parcels.  You could add chopped nuts, peanut butter, marsh mallow, all kinds of little surprises!  They would also be nice served with a little extra chocolate sauce, if you’re a real chocoholic.  Whatever you do, it’ll feel like a wonderful little treat!  Enjoy!

Some like it lukewarm.

There’s one part of English culture which I have never taken to and which I still feel alienated from even after many years of being a British citizen.  I’ve become a big fan of pies, I’ve eaten fish and chips by the seaside, I enjoy a nice pint of bitter and a packet of pork scratchings at the pub and I can queue with the best of them.  Even so, I know in my heart that I’ll never be truly accepted because I am not a tea drinker.

The truth of it is that I don’t like hot drinks.  I never have.  Quite honestly, I don’t particularly enjoy anything that is hot.  Don’t get me wrong, I want my food cooked through, but I just won’t eat it until it has cooled down considerably.  It’s the same with hot drinks.  My uncle won’t touch a cup of coffee unless it is so hot that you can melt gold in it.  For me, the very idea of trying to eat or drink hot things evokes memories of burning the roof of my mouth and seeing the sore, tiny bumps on my tongue after biting over-zealously into a toastie oozing molten cheese.  This aversion to heat has prevented me from participating in the daily tea-drinking ceremonies that the English rely on for comfort and as a vehicle for chat and gossip.

Travel, however, broadens the palate as well as the mind.  Time spent in Hong Kong got me semi-addicted to iced lemon tea and I’d grown up adoring frappe.  It was not until a visit to Hungary that I decided to be a little more open-minded. Coffee seems to fuel most activity in Europe and has done for some time.  Sitting outside a cafe with a cup of something hot, dark and sweet is the only way to people-watch in Hungary.  A short stay in the town of Szeged prompted me to do just that one warm evening.  I was delighted by the intensity of the coffee and the satisfying warmth that filled my body.  I began to drink coffee on a daily basis after that.  It felt like a real treat and one that I began looking forward to more and more.  By the time we had returned from our trip, I was buying fresh coffee grounds to fill our cafetière and eagerly looking forward to my next cup.

Of course, I still can’t drink it when it is piping hot; I wait a little for it to cool.  Dunking Lotus biscuits into the coffee helps pass the time.  I stare into the black, swirling liquid and breathe in the tempting aroma.  “Where have you been all my life?” I ask.  The answer is, right in front of my big Greek nose.  I only drink it once a week, but boy do I look forward to it.  Saturday morning, I get out the Lotus biscuits, I set out my Fairtrade mug and I take my time preparing the coffee.  I make a point of buying only Fairtrade coffee and I choose the strongest available.  I figure, if I’m only drinking it once a week, it’s worth doing it properly.  I’m still the only person in the room who doesn’t say, “Ooh, yes please!” when everyone is offered “a brew”, but I’m used to the raised eyebrows denoting slight suspicion.  Hot drinks just aren’t my cup of tea.