I went to a Chinese concert recently and was intrigued by one of the Chinese wind instruments Hulusi葫蘆絲 (photo below). It has a Calabash葫蘆 head connected to a bamboo body.
The bamboo has finger holes which the performer blocks/ unblocks while blowing through the mouth piece on the top. It sounds a bit like flute but as the Hulusi is made from Calabash, a full bodied fruit that has been emptied and dried. It has a rounder sound. Click here to have a look at Hulusi >>
Dui Ng Festival 端午節, better known as Dragon Boat Festival in English, takes place on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar on which the Chinese calendar is based. Around that day, we have bamboo leaf-wrapped sticky rice dumplings 糉子 (zong zi) and dragon boat racing. (Why? You can find out at the end of this article.)
Anyway, I am too lazy to do dragon boat racing but I love eating, so 糉子is my highlight around this time of the year. You can buy them in Chinatown or Chinese supermarkets but I prefer to make my own as I can put more of my favourite ingredient inside! Here is my grandma’s recipe:
INGREDIENTS (to make 21 dumplings):
1. Dry bamboo leaves (photo above)
~ 4 leaves per dumpling, get a few extra as some might split in the middle
~ available in big Chinese supermarkets, e.g. the ones in Chinatown.
~ pick the pack with larger leaves as it makes wrapping easier.
2. Salted duck egg yolks (photo above)
~ my favourite ingredient!! In fact, I decided to make my own 糉子 because Continue reading about how to make Chinese bamboo leaf-wrapped dumplings 糉子>>
For the Chinese, a peach symbolises longevity. The God of Longevity has always been depicted with a Chinese peach in his hand. Traditional Chinese birthday cakes (sau bao 壽包) are created in the shape of peaches. For my dad’s 60th birthday, I decided to make him a peach with 24 Carat gold.
I have never done gilding before but at the time I just happened to be designing a house that features gilded panels. So I thought I might as well give it a go. Here is how I made things up along the way:
I used Super Sculpey which is a modelling polymer clay that only hardens when baked. This allowed me time to mess about without wasting any material. I could always touch up and remake until I was happy with the form. Continue reading >>
I love pig cheeks! They are one of the most under-rated cuts of a pig. (4 pig cheeks for £0.92- enough to feed two!) Most chefs like slow cooking them by braising (and charge over £15 for them!) but the meat always turns out to be too tough and dry for my liking. It is best to roast pig cheeks! Personally, I think they are even more tasty than the classic Chinese barbecued pork as they more succulent and juicy. Braising is just so wrong!
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Marinate time: overnight (recommended)
Cooking time: 15 minutes Continue reading >>
Yauatcha, Kai and Hakkasan are the three Chinese restaurants which currently hold 1 Michelin star in London. They are in my good book, however, they are no way as charming (and cheap!) as One Dim Sum 一點心- a tiny little dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong, which recently received a Michelin star in Hong Kong & Macau’s Michelin guide.
Photo above shows the shop front of One Dim Sum- The bright red Michelin sticker is dwarfed by laminated signs in Chinese stating the that the toilet is for the use of customers only and that they are recruiting waiters. (!) Possibly the only restaurant in the world where they draw more attention to toilet usage than the Michelin star award. Hmm, it shows an interesting sense of priority.
What truly is astonishing was the value. A meal for 3 people, that left us all more than comfortably full, for HK$160 (£12.60)! That was under £4.20 per head for a meal!!
Proudly on display was also a laminated colour photocopy of an interview with a Japanese magazine about their signature dish- Chinese rice cannelloni 布拉腸, which was prepared the traditional way, ie. by hand pulling with plain cloth. Continue reading to see what food you can eat at this Michelin starred restasuruant >>
I love traditional Chinese shadow puppet shows for their simple elegance. They usually depict old folk tales. The set up is quite basic- simple light, music, screen and puppets that are made of cardboard or thin coloured acrylic sheets. Controllers move individual puppets around to bring the story to life.
Recently I saw a great show (see above) – the fight between the Snipe and the Clam 鹬蚌相争. The snipe had a flight with the clam. The snipe attacked the clam with its beak and the clam held on to it. Both refused to let go. A fisherman came by and netted them both.
Like most Chinese folk tales, there is always a lesson to be learnt from the story. The lesson of this one is: ‘If both sides refuse to compromise, a third-party will take advantage of the situation.’
The snipe was about to ‘fly in’, as controlled by the lady on the left of the screen. Continue reading about the making of the shadow puppet show >>
Chinese mochi, aka sticky rice dumpling or 糯米糍, tastes the best when eaten on the day it is made, according to Master Tse, who has over 40 years of mochi making experience in Tai O, a village island on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. This is also one of the secrets why his mochi is better than the others- the unbeatable freshness. He makes a batch of mochi every morning using fresh ingredients. He would only make extra according to demand. He emphasizes the importance of selling only mochi freshly made on the day. Generally speaking, if consumed the next day, the snow-white outer skin of the mochi, which contains mainly sticky rice, will harden and badly affects the eating experience. Master Tse’s mochi has a signature outer skin that is chewy but does not stick to your teeth. (Note: Most mochi tends to stick to the teeth, which makes it less enjoyable to eat)
What is inside a mochi? There are traditionally two different fillings: red bean paste as well as crushed peanuts and shredded coconut. Personally, I like the latter more as it has a more interesting texture in the mouth. On the day I visited Master Tse, he was making a bespoke batch which has both fillings! Here is how he did it:
My grandmother said she used to make her own mochi too though she has given up since as it was hard to handle the hot sticky rice dough. Continue reading >>
Thousand- year old eggs, aka century eggs, are a Chinese delicacy that puzzle a lot of people. In Chinese, they are called Pei Dan, ie. ‘skin eggs’. They have a pretty coating of husk and ash on the outside. They look just like any other egg when the coating is removed. However, once cut, the pungent smell of ammonia distinguishes themselves from the others. (Some people believe that it was because the process was started by horse urine!) The ‘egg white’ is no longer ‘white’. It is a dark brown substance with the consistency of jelly. The ‘yolk’ is not orange nor yellow like normal eggs. It is dark grey with a hint of green. Who on earth would want to put them in the mouth? Continue reading >>