Friday, December 21, 2012

Smoked scallops

It's been a while since I smoked foods.    Last time, a supplier said they just got some gigantic scallops and so I decided to smoke these giant beauties again.  This time I used apple wood to smoke them. They came out marvelous after cold smoking for 30 minutes and I served them with a yuzu jelly and mandarine.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Scallops

I haven't done anything marinated and raw in a long time and so I infused some lemon olive into japanese scallops. To finish it,  I made some yuzu jelly from a japanese style yuzu salad dressing and put a few spoonfuls on the scallops. The marinated mini tangerine peel was diced and sparingly sprinkled on top.   They were really good but perhaps a little cold smoking the scallops would have made it better.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Noodle sauce

Changing the focus from a soup noodle to a tossed noodle has been really exciting.  The whole noodle experience has changed and it comes a wholesome Chinese meal,  with a main course, soup and instead of rice being served, a bowl of tossed noodles to make the meal complete.  I always think that noodles are a lonely meal -  you only have tbat when youre alone. And so hopefully by serving it tosesed style with a soup and a dish,  it won't be a lonely meal.  

The shallot sauce used to toss the noodles is a great success.  What if we created different tossing sauces for the noodles?   The idea sounds great and the first to be experimented is garlic -  simple yet it can offer an alternative to the original sauce.    Let's see how it turns out. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Microwave Fresh Prawns

Live prawns are abundantly available at the market and very reasonably priced.  These species of prawns are usually quickly cooked in boiling water and eaten with a dipping sauce made of scallions, ginger and soy sauce.  

Instead of cooking them in water,  how  would they turn out they were microwaved without any cooking medium?   We popped some prawns into the microwave and covered them with some plastic film.  I also added some Chinese wine.  Then we set it on high for 1 minute. So once they turned pink,  we took them out and tried it.   They are very tasty and all the flavors are sealed inside.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fresh fruits

Being in Wanchai has its advantages.  We're close to the wet market  and interesting fresh foods come and go.  In the past, I would go to a few major supermarket chains and see what interesting foods were available..   The wet market in Central had interesting vegetables but they were mostly imported ones.
Food is very local in Wanchai. A lot of food is from China. Last month, I saw lots of roselle flowers at the market.   Now it's out of season.  My supplier just gave me rhe last batch of her roselle flowers.   Instead of making a tea, I'm going to marinate them in sugar.  The crunch will still be there but it won't be too sour.   I'll think if what to do with them later.
Dates are in season. I found 2 different dates at the market.   There is a subtle difference between them. One has a crunchier texture but very bland in tsdte. The other us sweeter but softer. Just like comparing granny smith and red delicious.  I wonder how I can use these 2 fruits.
Mini mandarins can also be seen too.   These mandarins are very interesting.   It's eaten whole , along with the skin.  They aren't very juicy, but it's sweet and the peel gives it a very zesty taste. 
With all these interesting fruits out there,  there is a lot of experimental cooking to do now!
Roselle flowers - end of season
Honey dates
 
 
mini mandarins
 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Braised Duck with roselle jam

We served a  very  chinese braised duck with plum sauce at the old restaurant. Now I want to put something more interesting at the noodle bar. A modified duck confit ? Duck fat is hard to find so instead I used butter. I also decided to slow cook it at a slightly lower temperature than usual. Then as a sauce, I made some roselle jam. Roselle flowers are only available during October and November , so it'll be a seasonal dish only.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Molecular noodles

I recently added a new touch to the noodles. A lot of customers, especially ladies don't like shallots and most thought that I would be usually lots of raw shallots and chives in the noodles. In fact, the sauce has nothing raw. The shallots are slowly cooked in oil for at least 45 minutes and when the nice flavours and aromas are infused in the oils, we add the seasonings. Soy sauce along with a bit of dark soy sauce and pepper are then added and blended together.

To top off, the sauce is transformed into a foam and a little is added on the noodles in front of the customers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Slow cooked pork cheeks

Recently, a few customers said that my Hoisin Pork was not tender enough and was on the dry side. This was a challenge as sometimes my supplier would give me relatively lean pork butts.

So I decided to give pork cheeks a try. These are relatively very marbled and slightly chewy. Usually, Thai restaurants love this cut and grill them and slice them very thinly when serving.

I got some cheeks at the market and slow cooked them for 48 hours. They turned out extremely tender and moist. Now to see what sauce would go well with this.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sous vide salmon

We put the salmon sousvide with onion relish on the menu but something seemed wrong. Because it was served as a main, mainly customers complained that it was not hot enough. So instead of changing the cooking temperature, I decided to serve it like before - salmon sous vide Canto style like a steamed fish. Let's see how it turns out this time.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Salmon

My dad has been saying that I should introduce salmon into the menu.  We offered salmon before and it was really well liked.  In the past, we served it very Cantonese style, using fresh ginger and chives on top and drizzled hot oil and sweet soy sauce on top.  Customers loved it and it went really well with a bowl of rice.

How should it be served with noodles then? I've decided to serve it with a onion relish and then top it up with my shallot popcorn      

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lo mein

Recently, for tasting menus, I've changed the noodles from soup to Lo mein. The feedback is all positive.  The dilemma now is do I change from offering a soup noodle to a dry noodle?  Especially when everyone knows I make soup noodles.

I recall when I first opened Soup Cafe, my initial concept was to offer a variety of homemade Chinese soup that would be served with noodles and a selection of meats and vegetables.  However, within a couple weeks, I quickly changed the idea to simple Chinese Soup with homemade traditional dishes and a bowl of rice.  Since the change, everyone loved it and we were a very popular lunch hangout in Central.

So with this in mind, I have changed all the noodle choices to a lo mein, except for one when customers really want soup noodles.  The noodles taste great when served as a lo mein and the soup really helps bring out the flavour.  The various toppings also blend in.  But when we serve the noodles in the soup, it falls apart.  Suddenly the alkalinity of the noodles come out, and the soup becomes very bland.  So instead of directing energy into a bowl of soup noodles, I've decided to change the noodle concept from soup to lo mein noodles. 




Monday, September 17, 2012

48 hours short ribs

I decided to give the slow cooked ribs a shot. I used to serve these with a traditional stew made of tomatoes, carrots and potatoes. This time I took on another theme - the beef brisket with turnips, usually seen at noodle places around town.

Instead of serving the turnips, I used them to make a sauce with a traditional "Chu Hau" sauce. The turnips were braised in a "Chu Hau" sauce and chicken broth and then puréed. The shorts ribs were seated lightly and it was topped with a crumble. Something sweet and crunchy to compliment the ribs and sauce.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shallot popcorn

This week's students had a shot of making shallot powder. Last week, the students threw away the crispy shallots to my horror ! Crispy shallots are painful and slow to make - but they are so good as garnishes! So this week, I told them to give me all of their "leftovers". They looked very oily though crispy and didn't look appealing. So I transformed them into popcorn. Look and tastes great!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Shallot powder

Back to school. Been introducing some very simple molecular recipes to some students at a culinary school. Had them make some shallot infused oil and mixed it with some malto. I took some back to the restaurant. Plenty of options to use it. It be fun to see which dish I'll use it on.

Octopus

I found live octopuses at the market today. To be frank, I've never cooked octopus before; I only use it for soups and they are the dried ones. After cleaning it, I tried cooking one of the tentacles in water. Results not good- very bland and chewy. Now what if we sous vide them ? So I took out some of my Lo mein sauce, placed some in with extra oil to have a confit effect, then vacuumed them on high and put them in the water bath at 85 degrees. It'll be interesting to see how they turn out.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Vegetarians

Yesterday was interesting. A wine came in to drop off some information. At the same time, another wine supplier came in and dropped off some information. Interestingly, both were my wine suppliers! And both were vegetarians. Both have done excellent advice on wine and food pairings. Now the challenge for me is to create a vegetarian meal for them using what I had at hand.

I came up with Chinese wine eggs with marinated mushrooms served with a Lo Mein. Of course, I couldn't make a vegetarian broth in time and so I asked if their wines would go with the foods!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mussels

I saw some fresh mussels at the market yesterday. Very interesting as you do not see them locally. Usually, I need to order from speciality stores. I asked and the monger said they were bred locally and very affordable.

I bought a catty. Cleaned them amd removed the beards. I sautéed some shallots, garlic and Spanish ham and then put the mussels in. A bit of Sauvignon Blanc and broth and it was reach in 5 mins. Unfortunately, local mussels lack the flavour and to be frank, the beard is not removed completely no matter how hard I try. I'll pass and thumbs down for this seafood. I'd rather pay more for an imported one.

Wine pairing with food

It was fun yesterday. A wine supplier brought a couple samples of white to the shop. Since my knowledge of wine is limited, I requested the wine expert to give me some opinions on wine pairing.

The fun part was that the wine expert was a vegetarian. So I let her taste all my vegetarian side dishes and the following pairing was done.



Goes well with an Italian Shiraz
Goes will with a Proseco


Pinot Grigio works fine too with my mushrooms

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Scallops

I like scallops.  During our vacation in Toronto, we came across these frozen scallops at the supermarket.  Compared to what we get in Hong Kong, they were gigantic.  Normally, the only ones available in this size are the Japanese scallops and they are usually used for sashimi.  What amazed me was that these Japanese scallops are only good as sashimi.

These US scallops were extremely tasty and sautéed to perfection - just a minute on each side. And because we were on holiday, we could only spare time for these as breakfast items !


Crumbs

I've been thinking of another tasting menu for the shop. It's harder than I think. With each dish, I wanted to create different flavours and textures and it needs to be unique from my last tasting menu. But the crunch factor needs to be incorporated into the dishes for such.

Instead of deep frying the food for crunch, I decided to add the crunch factor on the side. I borrowed the idea from my sister's apple crumble. And so the first crunch on the side will be for a dessert.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Soft boiled eggs

Soft boiled eggs seem hard to make.  In fact they aren't.  My mom has been making them since I was a kid and makes them perfect each time.  She uses the smallest pot in the house, takes an egg or two out from the fridge and puts cold water to cover the eggs and brings the water to a boil.  Then she turns off the heat and lets the egg sit in the pot for another two minutes.  Perfect soft boiled eggs.  She times the whole process and it usually takes 6 minutes.  The secret for homemade soft boiled eggs is you should have your own secret recipe and stick to it.  As a rule of thumb, soft boiled eggs take around 6 minutes to make, depending on the size of the egg and whether they are straight from the fridge or at room temperature.

At the restaurant, we rely on equipment for our soft boiled eggs as we make at least a couple dozen of eggs each time.  The eggs are weighed and the temperature to boil the eggs are set.  We cook our eggs at 96 degrees celsius to ensure the eggs do not crack easily.  Based on the weight of the eggs, we cook the eggs for at least 6 minutes and then the eggs are cooled down and peeled.   It is important the eggs are cooked according to their weight and time.  A 10 second deviation can lead to yolks  either too runny or hard boiled..




Thursday, July 5, 2012

Noodle Tasting Menu

I always wanted to create a tasting menu for dinner that would be different from the noodle menu. Then when my Jockey Club tennis ladies said they would like to come to try my noodles, I had to put on my thinking hat again. Though the bar can accommodate 10 , it would seem funny to serve 10 big bowls of soup noodles to them. It then struck me to rearrange the menu so that it could be served in courses. Works perfectly and I created a 6 course noodle tasting menu.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Potato noodles

The texture of potatoes is very interesting because of the starch content, it is very soft when baked. Yet when we remove the starch from the potato, the texture is completely different, transforming itself from a mash like texture to a crunchy vegetable.

At the restaurant, we add potato noodles to the noodles for added crunch. Potatoes are shredded finely and then washed in water several times until the starch is removed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Flavoured Sea Salt

One of the dishes customers love are the Chinese Wine Eggs. To enhance the flavour of these eggs, I added some orange peel sea salt to the eggs. While passing a Chinese candy shop, I tried some traditional sour plum and it struck me to try to make some sour plum sea salt to go with the eggs. This is the best pairing as traditionally Chinese Wine is drunk with a small piece of sour plum in the wine glass.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Perfect Egg

I was never able to attract customers to try this at Chinese Spoon. I always thought customers didn't like runny yolks. I gave it a second attempt at my noodle shop, making a Chinese mushroom fluid gel to go with it. I topped it with some Serrano ham and put a wonton wrapper on the side and called it the Perfect Egg. This time - everyone loved it.

Beef short ribs

My beef supplier asked me to try some bone-in ribs. Since my cousins were coming in town, I thought I'd let them try my slow cooked ribs - Asian style. Bone-in ribs always appealed to me and I've had a hard time finding good ones. They were either too fat or not enough meat on them. So these ribs will be very fun to cook with !

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Instant noodles

It always seemed like it was too gimmicky to play around with making your own instant noodles. But when I served it to friends, it was received vet well. Everyone liked squirting the liquid into their soup and watching it turn to noodles.

Here I used a mixture of hard tofu with water. I added a bit of Metil and voila- instant noodles before your eyes.

Beef tartare

I got hold of a nice piece of beef tenderloin and wanted to know if it worked as tartare. Sprinkled some organic shoots in top, drizzled some extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and my favourite lemon zest salt. It was good except it lacked some grated Parmesan.

The Noodle Bar

It's been some time since I wrote anything as I've been extremely busy with my new project - The Chinese Noodle Bar.  Chinese soup forms the fundamental of the Noodle Bar and I added meats cooked  as toppings to the noodles.  The noodles are most challenging, I received many comments to widen the choice of noodles or change it to a different noodle.  The noodles are a cross bred of Northern Dan Dan noodles and Southern wonton noodles. 

What I wanted to create was bowl of various tastes and textures in a simple bowl of noodles.  It wasn't as easy as I imagined.  The chicken breast infused with lemon oil was so delicate in taste and texture that the chicken broth would destroy it.  On the other hand, the Chinese pork was intense in flavours of Hoisin, oyster sauces that it would destroy the flavours of the Pork broth.  In the end, I decided to separate the meats from the bowl of noodles.