“And the winner for the best Hong Kong blog goes to… Darren Ng of Celebrate Life Lah!” Loud applause all around, bright flashes stunned my irises, congratulatory pats on the back and handshakes started pouring in…
Darren, wake up… wake up…
Huh? Oh, I was daydreaming! I didn’t win the best Hong Kong blog. Catherine did. With Jerome winning 1st Runner-up and Sze Peng taking home the honours for 2nd Runner-up. Congratulations to them! They will be receiving a basket of sour grapes from me soon.
I’m kidding. They really did very well in the Hong Kong blog contest. I learnt a lot about this multi-faceted city and about blogging through them and all my fellow travelers – Peter, Priscilla, Violet, Lawrence, Elaine and Gin. In the last 3 months from the time we won the Singapore Blog Awards to the Hong Kong trip, I think I represent all 10 of us when I say the whole experience is what dreams are made of.
With the dinner gathering held a few nights ago and the announcement of the blog and lucky draw winners, the Hong Kong Summer Spectacular came to a wrap for us. But things don’t end there for the 10 of us have left behind a ‘legacy’ of our HK trip… a combined blog where our experiences were meticulously documented through photos, videos, cartoons and words.
It is a light-hearted collection of 10 first-person accounts and intimate thoughts about what Hong Kong has to offer. So do drop by My Hong Kong Travel Blog (我的香港之旅) as your first stop to this amazing city.
When I started posting at My Hong Kong Travel Blog, I began with a countdown series that recorded my thoughts and preparations for the trip. Why did I do it? Frankly, I’ve been to Hong Kong before and I’m not impressed by my previous visits. So I wanted to see if this trip will change my mind.
And frankly again, the blog contest has ended so there’s no need for me to continue posting about Hong Kong (my last entry was Day 3 of our 4-days tour on 26 Aug 10). So there are no other objectives other than to record what I really felt because I had a change of mind about Hong Kong being boring. I guess I was merely looking at the oyster shell previously and didn’t open it, or tasted it.
No doubt that this trip was hosted by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) and they took great care of us. But for the most part, they left us pretty much on our own to explore Hong Kong. Yes, they put us up at the uber cool The Mira Hotel (which totally blew my mind away), and brought us to great places to eat but to me, it is not so that we will write only nice reviews (well, at least not for me), but it really showed me the full potential of Hong Kong as a great holiday destination.
For this trip, I got down to do some pretty serious research. That’s when I realized there’s more to Hong Kong. There’s Kowloon and New Territories. Especially the lesser explored New Territories, which is home to many beautiful natural landscapes and the very photogenicHong Kong Wetland Park.
If you’re like me and like to research every destination and attraction before visiting and to get as local as possible, the HKTB website is a really great resource. What I really love about it is the clear, clean-cut directions it gives to get to the places of interest. And their pocket-sized brochures are really good too (copies of them can be obtained at the airport). I never leave my hotel room with them.
But enough about the sights of Hong Kong here for details can be found in my earlier posts. With this concluding blog, I would like to share about the food. A topic I’ve not touched on in previous posts.
During this trip, we were brought to restaurants that span the range from casual eats, boutique gems, and fine-dine menus. Very often a time, after I took a bite of the food, I was afraid to open my mouth again because I didn’t want the flavours to escape. Plus I ran out of words to describe delicious. The above 4 dishes are what I found interesting and super yumz (although the pork knuckles took some getting used to).
However, my most memorable taste of Hong Kong was at the quaint, delicately retro ambience of Yin Yang Restaurant on Ship Street. I shan’t go into details about the culinary feats of its founder, celebrity chef Margaret Xu, because my fellow bloggers have done an excellent job, but I’ll talk about the inspiration she gave me… that of daring to experiment in the kitchen.
As part of our dining experience at Yin Yang, which is famous for its healthy fusion fare, we were given a behind-the-scene demonstration of how to make one of its many specialty sauces. For our sauce-making lesson, Margaret shared with us the recipe for a dipping sauce which she later christened as ‘Green Dream’ in honour of us.
I didn’t get a chance to note down the specific measurements of the ingredients, but it is basically equal weight green chili, ginger and spring onion. I think we used about 1kg each during our session. If you like it spicier, you can always increase the ratio of chili.
In a wok of oil, deep-fry the ginger for about 3 mins then add in the chili. Deep-fry the chili till it is cooked but not to the point where it loses its green colour and fold in the spring onion. Again, deep-fry the spring onion till soft but not soggy. Drain the oil and transfer the mixture to a blender and add in a generous amount of salt (about 2 heaping soup spoons). This is meant as a dipping sauce so it has to be a bit salty. You can vary the salt content to your liking.
We were each given a bottle of Green Dream and told it can keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. I kept it for over a month! It still tasted fresh and I didn’t end up in ER. But instead of using it as a dip, I decided to experiment and used it as a base sauce to create 2 new dishes. Here’re the recipes…
Yin Yang Lady’s Fingers
Hmm… With such a name, I think this dish will be a hit with transvestites! And no one will break any nails trying to cook this dish which draws inspiration from the delicious Peranakan-styled steamed ocra with sambal. But instead of sambal, Green Dream is used.
400g Lady’s Fingers (a.k.a. ocra)
20g Dried Shrimp (soak in water before using)
1 Onion (diced)
3 Cloves Garlic (diced)
2 Heaping Tablespoons of Green Dream
- Deep-fry the dried shrimps till brown and crispy. Drain the oil and put it aside.
- Cut ocra into halves and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Steam for about 8-10 mins. Remove from steamer and transfer ocra to a new plate to leave behind excess water.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium fire and stir-fry onion and garlic. Add in Green Dream and 2 tablespoons of water.
- Scoop sauce into a bowl and pour in the crispy shrimps. Mix the condiments and spread atop steamed ocra.
Green Dream Shrimp
This dish is adapted from the Sweet & Sour Prawns recipe with Green Dream replacing the use of ketchup and vinegar. So instead of the fruity sweet taste, this dish has a mild spicy bite.
600g Prawns (de-shell the body leaving the head and tail)
1 Medium-size Tomato (sliced into quarters)
1 Medium-size Onion (sliced into quarters)
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Bunch Spring Onion & Chinese Parsley
2 Heaping Tablespoons of Green Dream
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Fish Sauce
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
3 Tablespoons Whiskey (or Chinese Cooking Wine)
- Slice the spine of the prawns to remove the black entrails. In a bowl, marinate with sesame oil and whiskey. Leave in the fridge for about 2 hours.
- Heat a table of olive oil over high fire and stir-fry onion and garlic. Add in tomato and 2 tablespoons of water. Cooked till tomato is slightly soft and add in Green Dream and sugar.
- Add in prawns and be sure to pour in the marinate sauce as well. Stir-fry and add in fish sauce. Serve on a bed of spring onion and parsley.
Now, I’m no Martin Yan or Fang Tai and I’d cook up many disasters that even my dogs won’t eat so you by trying out the above recipes, you’re doing it at your own risk! But I did put the dishes to a taste-test by my parents. My mum is a foodie and my dad used to be a cook.
So, did Yin Yang Lady’s Fingers and Green Dream Shrimp pass my parents’ taste test? Were they a dream or a nightmare?
Well, I couldn’t get a word out of them because like me, they were too afraid to open their mouths when food is good. Success!
With the 2 dishes, I’ve brought home more than just postcard memories of Hong Kong, but the spirit of experimentation that made Hong Kong so resilient in creating a holiday destination bursting with contrasts and flavours.
Till my future visits to Hong Kong again, the fragrance of this recent trip lingers on…