Thursday, December 5, 2013

Roaster chickens

I have only one chicken item on the menu.  It's a chicken breast that has been cooked sous vide in lemon olive oil.  Its nice and tender but the problem I have is that Chinese don't like chicken breast and so I have always wanted to add a chicken item on the menu with bones.

I ordered 2 small  roaster chickens and cooked them sous vide in a chinese ginger sauce.   The flavours were there, except I cooked one for 4 hours and the other for 2 hours.  The difference in cooking time were immaculate.  Both retained their moisture and was tender, but the one cooked for 4 hours was overcooked, and was considered mushy.  On the other hand, the one cooked 2 hours had texture to it. It's very interesting to see how much difference there is to the texture when meat is cooked for different times. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Chestnuts are in season now.  Everyone I know loves them.  But to peel them is really painful and hard.  There are the deshelled packaged ones available but I really don't like those.  They have been soakd in a sulphide solution to peserve them and have an off taste  At the market, we see some that are slightly deshelled.  The traditional way of peeling them is to boil them in water.  But in fact, the shell sticks to the meat and makes it incredibly hard to peel.  A faster and easier way to make them is eithe using the oven or microwaving them.  Here is how it is done:
1.  Buy the half deshelled ones.  Clean  the chestnuts in water.  The ones that have turned bad will float on the top.
2.  Put them in the oven and set the oven at 140C for 15 minutes.  Try peeling a chestnut and if the shell comes off easily, take them out of oven.  Otherwise, leave them in oven for another 15 minutes.
If microvaving   put them in a container and microwave on high for 3 minutes.  Check to see if they are done.  If not, then continue microwaving a minute or less at a time.  It should take around 3-5 minutes to cook the chestnuts
3.  Take them out and peel the shells off.  The shells should come off easily.  If not, then that means they are not done and put them back oven for another 5 minutes.  
4.  If you are using whole chestnuts, you will need to slit the shell first.  Otherwise the chestnuts will explode.

一到冬天,就想食煲仔菜, 例如栗子炆雞!相信很多人都喜愛,但是一想起要去栗子殼後那層皮就不如放棄這道菜。

其實去皮是十分容易的,但不是放進滾水煲, 宜使用焗爐或者微波爐。

1. 先把栗子用清水洗乾淨。
2. 放在焗爐,用140°C, 焗20-30分。如用微波爐就叮2分鐘,拿出來, 翻一翻,再叮2分鐘。
3. 拿出來用手去皮。如皮還不離肉, 可以再焗一焗。
4. 栗子未必一定全熟,但這不是問題,因為要跟雞再炆。


還有,買栗子時要留意硬殼底部是否已被去掉,否則焗時栗子會 爆炸!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


When I first started cooking food sous vide, one of the first foods I played around with was fois gras.  Apart from the The Perfect Egg, fois gras was constantly referred to as the first foods in sous vide.  This was because cooked traditionally, too much fat would be released causing the liver to shrink considerably in size.  By cooking sous vide, the shrinkage would be reduced considerably and fat retained.    I like foie gras cooked sous vide but do find it a bit too rich for my palate these days.  So I  tried Momofuku's shaved foe gras recipe a try.  Turned out to be extremely light and melting in my mouth.   I dressed it with some bitter melon purée and served them on top of some wonton wrappers.  

Smoked prawns

It all started with smoking crabs.  But crab is very messy to eat and although I prefer crabs over shrimps, it was difficult for me to get the same type of crab at the market within a week.   So I decided to look into shrimps again. 
Cantonese love their seafood fresh and simple.  These finger long shrimp are always available at the market.  Usually they are poached, peeled and devoured at the table.  So after poaching them, I have them a hint of smoked and served them with some chilli soy sauce, just like at the seafood restaurants.  They turned out really nice.   Another item on the menu!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Seafood marinara

In Hong Kong, there is the tendency to serve lots of imported foods in dishes to make them unique.  I try to use local ingredients in my foods, especially seafood as it's live and fresh.  I'm not a particular fan of imported chilled/frozen seafood.

I didn't want a Chinese dinner tonight and was looking for ideas on the internet.  Seafood marinara... lovely... 

I just bought local live clams and live shrimp.  Fish , that's imported and I chose salmon,  but just because my daughter likes salmon.

Everything else was local except for the anchovies and white wine.  The flavours were great and well balanced. Now to see if my young food critic agrees with me.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dong Por Pork Belly

When I first opened, the initial pork dish on the menu was made with pork belly.  After a few weeks, I had to change the cut to pork butt.  Pork belly was too fat.  But if you love eating fat cuts, you love pork belly.  So I decided to look into Dong Por Pork Belly again.

There are many versions of this pork belly recipe.  I picked a recipe that was modified from soy marinating meats and used hatton the pork . I cut the sugar amount as I wasn't a big fan of pork belly.  The pork belly was scalded in hot water.

What's interesting was the cooking.  I made two, one  sous vided it at 65 degrees andof another at 75 degrees.  Taste testing after 24 hours.  I found at 75, the meat falls apart but it's a bit dry.  At 65, the meat is succulent but a bit chewy.  So I put the 65 degrees batch back into the cooker and cooked it for another 6 hours.  Perfect.

Monday, September 9, 2013


We make a lot of soft boiled eggs for our Chinese wine eggs.  We sometimes encounter problems peeling the eggs when they are a bit too raw and the membrane sticks to the white. 

A little trick learned from the Japanese ramen shops is that if you add a few heaping tablespoons into the water when you boil the eggs, it makes the egg much easier to peel. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Smoked crab

I just got some wood pellets for smoking and got this fantastic idea of smoking crabs.  I saw these nice live crabs at the market.  My first crab was the French brown crab but since it was frozen, I didnt like the meat.   The smokiness was great though. 

Both crabs were first cooked and one of the crabs were opened before smoking.  I wanted to see if it made any difference to the taste between opening and not opening them.    There were a lot of crabs to choose from at the market.  I purposely picked crabs with softer shells as perhaps the smoke would penetrate better. 

The next step is tasting.   If they are both good, then maybe I can smoke hairy crabs.....

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sesame oil foam

I put a sesame oil foam on top of my tossed noodles for an added touch and extra dimension to my noodles.  Many customers think it's a nice garnish but some say and write on their blog that it's just a gimmicky thing I did to the noodles.

In the beginning, I would have agreed with my customers as the first version of the foam was transforming the shallot sauce into a foam.  But it didn't do anything special.  I decided to use sesame oil and transform it into an oil.  Of course, I could have put the sesame oil foam onto the noodles instead of squirting in front of the customer.   I decided that serving the foam in front of the customer would be an interesting experience for the customer and the sesame oil foam does make a difference.  

AND  it's because it's in a foam form.  As a foam, it's much lighter than liquid form and it coats the noodles more evenly and less sesame oil is need to give it that extra flavour.  I could have placed the bottle of sesame oil in front of the customer and let them add all the oil they liked. The problem is sesame oil flavours the noodles that oil is dripped on and the whole bowl of noodles is not evenly coated. My observation tells me that usually too much oil is added to their noodles, and when they are about to finish the noodles, the last few bites are often dredged in oil.  Therefore, I think the sesame oil is best when added in a foam form. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cutting Chicken

From time to time, my customers comment on my lemon chicken.  Some say it's nice and tender and some say it's not tender.  I always trained my staff to cut against the grain from the tip.  I didn't realize it made so much difference until I had a new staff on board who cut it wrong.  I then experimented : the same breast was cut against the grain and towards the grain.   My staff were very surprised with the results.  How can the same piece of meat taste so different ?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

From boneless to bone in.

Our boneless beef chuck short ribs has been a hit since its launch. It's slow cooked for 48 hours and turns out extremely tender and juicy.  Lately,  there appears to be problems with the quality of the meat and the marbling if the meat is not very even.  It never occurred to me until Leeanne refused to eat it.  She told me that the meat had no taste.

Since all meat in Hong Kong is imported some where,  I decided to look into the beef short ribs with the bone in.  It appears that the marbling and quality of the meat is more even and so I've decided to change the cut of the meat from our boneless chuck ribs to a bone-in beef short ribs.  It may upset some customers as the media as been reporting our chuck short ribs as boneless,  but then, I would rather upset a few customers than to serve food that is not good enough for the restaurant. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sous vide vs slow cooked beef cheeks

I got some beef cheeks from my beef supplier and decided to slow cook some of it in a crock pot and compare it with sous vide.  The cheeks were both seared first.  Some white onions were sweated and a gerenous amount of white wine was splashed on.  Stock was then added and the mixture was reduced.  This liquid was then used as the braising liquid for both the crocker and sous vide.  The crocker style beef cheeks were cooked for about 6 hours whilst the sous vide beef cheeks cooked for 24 hours. 

They turned out very differently.  What I liked about the crock pot beef cheeks was that it was extremely tender and the meat fell apart.  Unfortunately, the braising liquid contained all the flavour and without the sauce, the meat would be dry.  On the other hand, sous vide beef cheeks cooked medium does not work.  We cooked the beef cheeks at 60 degrees celsius and although the meat was medium done and tender, it had a strange texture.  I guess it was partly because of the cut of the meat.  I guess for this cut of meat, it does need to be sous vide at much higher temperatures in order to achieve a nice texture and taste.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Basil chicken wings

I got part of this inspiration from Adria Ferran's recipe and also from a good friend who does a lot of home cooking.  The chicken wings were first marinated and then sealed in butter.  The wings need to cooked for 24 hours at 63 degrees.  Instead of a tandori style chicken wing, I am borrowing the idea of  a Chinese basil chicken dish.  But first of all, the wings need to be cooked for 48 hours and then I need to ask the friend how she does her chicken !

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Smoked shrimps

Chinese Smoked Eggs are one of my all time favourites.  An idea struck me to try smoking shrimp the chinese way, using a mixture of rice, sugar and chinese tea.   There were some very fresh shrimp on sale at the market and would be great for this.  I washed peeled and left the heads on the shrimps.  The shrimps were marinated with some soy sauce and oil and then smoked for about 20 minutes.

The aroma was there, but the flavours did not develop as I expected.

I then continued my ssmoking experiement and cold smoked the prawns first.  There were then cooked sous vide at 55C for about an hour.  The smokiness developled very nicely and the prawns were very soft and succulent.  However, Chinese don't seem to like tender shrimp, the rubbery texture seems more appropiate when serving these shrimps.  I guess we shall need to just blanche or grill these shrimps before serving.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fruit Ice

The weather is getting extremely hot these days.  Something cold and refreshing would be interesting to serve at the restaurant.  At an exhibition lately, I saw a very creative way of creating an instant refreshing fruit ice.  Frozen fruit was added into the slow juicer and instead of obtaining juice, the fruit was compressed and the flesh coming out ressembled ice cream. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Crispy anchovies

Everyone loves crispy food but usually at home nobody likes deep frying at home.  I was at the market the other day and saw some dried fish that are great for frying. Instead if frying them, I tossed them in a little olive oil and baked for 15 minutes. Very crispy and great for snacking.  Instead of baking them, I then tried microwaving them.  They turned out amazinglying crispy and looked much better than baking them.  Here's the recipe :
Dried anchovies
1.  Wash the anchovies in water.
2.  Soak in hot water for 15-20 minutes.
3.  Drain and toss with a bit of oil and soy sauce.
4.   Put in microwave and cook until crispy.  Toss and shake anchovies every minute or so, otherwise they will stick together.

脆白飯魚乾 (銀魚乾)
當我們去飲茶時,不少洒樓會用小魚及花生做前菜。 侍應一放上枱, 不出五分鐘就一定被吃清光!而我們很少會在家製作這些小吃,因為覺得要油炸!其實這些小魚乾是很容易炮製的!而不一定要炸!
1. 先把白飯魚洗乾淨, 然後用滾水浸大約15分鍾。
2. 然後用小量豉油及油醃白飯魚。
3. 把小魚放入微波爐,用高火煮2分鐘,拿出來反一反,再叮1 分鍾, 直至白飯魚變脆。
(如用焗爐,就用140°C, 焗20分鐘,照樣拿出來反一反,再焗,直至魚身變脆。)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Chinese steam fish

My dad isn't a big fan of fish.  But if the fish is very fresh and steamed cantonese style, he can have one all to himself.    I usually have the fish monger select a live fish from the tank for my dad.  It's steamed for 10 minutes and fresh ginger and green onions and are put in top and hot oil is poured on top and seasoned with soy sauce.

The challenge is usually the time needed to steam the fish and the plate to hold the fish to steam for fish that are over pound and a half.  The fish sometimes needs to be cut in half and Chinese do not like to serve fish cut in half.

My dad suggested to poach the fish in water.  I never thought of poaching a fish meant for Canto style.  But at the restauant, a lot of my foods are slow cooked and so why not poach a whole fish and dress it canto style? 

The fish was poached gentlely for 20inutes at 85 degrees celsius.  It took a little longer than steaming, but the results were great.  The fish was evenly cooked and very succulent.  Hot sizzling oil and soy sauce was added on top.  The mat was still sticking to the bone, an indication that it is cooked but not over done.  Contrary to Chinese thinking, none of the flavours were loss and it is indeed a lot a better way of cooking steam fish Cantonese style.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Eight treasure pigeon

Duck is usually the preferred bird when making this dish.  It is served like a banquet food as the duck is braised with 8 different types of stuffing and cooked for at least 4 hours. 

The stuffing is glutinous rice, barley, gingko nuts, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, chestnuts and lotus seeds. 

Since we already have a plum duck on the menu, I thought it would be interesting to use another bird - pigeon. 
The dilemma now is the texture of the pigeon.  Cooked medium, it is tender juicy and succulent.  But the redness of the meat doesn't appeal to my customers.  Cooked confit style is a little too 'mushy' to my liking.  Lets see how my dad likes it.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Rice for fish

The Canto style salmon is a hit.  The salmon is served on a small bed of vegetables so the fish doesn't cool down very quickly.   We used to serve the fish with a bowl of hot steaming rice but now we serve it with our noodles lo mein.

The problem with our lo mein is that it doesnt pair with the salmon as well as a bowl of hot steaming rice.   I've been trying to see if I can cook fresh hot steaming rice the moment a customer orders the salmon.   But it seems impossible as it takes at least 20 minutes to cook and pre cooked rice reheated does not taste good at all. 

Simon brought home a fried rice last night and I reheated it.  It tasted great!  Maybe I can look into a special fried rice to go with the salmon.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013


My new toy arrived last week.  It's a dehydrator.   What's interesting is that my old dehydrator broke down.  And I never really had time to explore dehydrating food stuffs.  It's going to be fun!

Dessert testing

I've never been a big fan of desserts.  Our chocolate mousse is a big hit though.  I need more selections into the menu and so I put on my thinking hats again. 
We use a lot of egg whites at the shop but the yolks are wasted.   So my ideab is to use the yolks as part of the dessert.  Maybe a creme brulee of some sort.   But it doesn't blend in.  I passed by the market snd saw some almonds.   Almond tea, that is a local favourite.  How about an egg custard made from almond tea? With that ub mind,  I soaked some almonds,   put them through a food processor with 4 parts water.  Afterwards,  the mixture was strained with a cheese cloth and brought to a boil.  1 part egg yolk was mixed with 5 part water and some sugar.  The mixture was then steamed for 10 minites.   It was good.
Another indicator that it was good are kids.  I gave some to my little one and when a 7 year old says its delicious and a little unwilling to share, then it should be good.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Plum salt

I usually serve our Chinese Wine Eggs with a homemade plum salt.  The Chinese snack shops have a choice of sweet or savoury plum salt.  I use the savoury type but recently some customers suggested a sweet one.   Some sweet plum was powdered and then sprinkled on the eggs. 

Interesting - the sweetness of the plum practically masked the taste and aroma of the Chinese Wine.  So in the end, we scrapped the idea of using  a sweet plum salt on our eggs.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mongolian lamb

I've been testing with lamb recipes lately. At last, I've decided to adopt a Mongolian style lamb. It's very popular in Northern China and usually served skewered and marinated with cumin, garlic and salt. It is a hawker food and is charcoal grilled.   Instead of creating a bar snack, I used lamb tenderloin and lamb shoulder.  They were slow cooked for a couple hours and then put on the grill.  The spices were sprinkled on last.  The taste is great and all tender.  The only problem is the meat is extremely lean it and the gamy flavour of lamb isn't there.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Been thinking of using fresh corn on a new dish lately.  Today, I sauteed some corn, added some broth into the corn mixture and blitzed it.  It didn't turn out as smooth as I wanted and it needs a to be strained.  But the taste is really intense and sweet. Now lets see how we can use this.

A spicy sauce

Sometimes it's interesting how  new products churn out.  My orignal intention was to create a garlic sauce for the noodle.  I had loads of garlic peeled and I started to caramelize them in oil.  Soy sauce was used to flavour the mixture and it was then pureed into a smooth sauce.   It just didn't taste right.  I didn't like the "green" taste of the garlic and was thinking of starting over. 
Just as I was thinnking,  Tina gave me an idea and said soome people want a hot sauce.  So I decided to turn the garlic sauce spicy.  I added dome Szechuan peppers, fresh chillies and put the mixture back on the stove.  The aroma of the pepper corns was great though the chillies behaved strangely.   They weren't spicy, so I had to put a lot in the mixture.   In the end, the green taste was removed and I have a great garlic spicy sauce for the noodles.