Wednesday, December 31, 2008

[Hong Kong] Roast Goose

Cantonese cuisine is known for a variety of siu mei, or roasted meat dishes. Most readily available are often barbeque pork [cha siu, 叉烧], roasted pork with crispy skin [siu yook, 燒肉], and roasted duck [siu ngaap, 燒鴨] in the US. However, in Hong Kong, roast goose [siu ngo 燒鵝] is one of the must-haves. The goose is roasted in a charcoal furnace in high heat, resulting in a crisp skin and succulent, juicy meat.

The restaurant most famous in Hong Kong for this Cantonese treat is Yung Kee. This restaurant fills up very quickly, since locals and tourists both eat here during lunch and dinner. It is best to try to beat the crowd or make a reservation.

Roast Goose

The roast goose's meat was nice and juicy, due to the goose's fatty skin. Roast goose differs from roast duck in its meat texture by being richer and meatier, not necessarily fattier. The skin was perfectly roasted and had a nice, bold color, complementing the meat's rich texture. Accompanying the goose was a sweet plum sauce, that had a touch of tartness. This complemented the rich taste of the meat well, without overpowering the flavor of the goose itself. When tasting the goose, it did not crisp or crunch, meaning it was not over-roasted and dried out. Instead, it was succulent and tender, well-seasoned, and showcased a whole-bodied flavor due to the meat's juices and natural fats. For those who shy away from oily foods, roast goose is not a good choice.

To start off our lunch extravaganza, we had their famous preserved duck eggs [pídàn
皮蛋] as an appetizer. Sometimes also known as century eggs, these duck eggs undergo an interesting process to attain their distinct, but smooth, flavor. These special eggs deserve a separate blog post sometime in the future. There are various ways to eat them, but Cantonese typically enjoy these eggs with some pickled ginger, perhaps to cleanse the palate after enjoying a bite of this egg and to neutralize the alkaline pH levels of this product. At Yung Kee, this appetizer is order per person--half a duck egg to a person.

Preserved Duck Egg

In addition to the roast duck, we ordered suckling pig, which is similar to the roast pork with crispy skin. The major difference is that the pig chosen is younger, meaning the meat is more tender and softer. The skin is also thinner and tends to be crisper, when roasted properly. The smoother skin of a younger pig also has a smaller layer of fat. Served with hoisin sauce, it is a wonderful experience for all the senses. The perfectly roasted skin, colored to a golden-brown, covers the succulent, pale white meat. Together with
the sweet and salty smell of the dark hoisin sauce that accompanies this meat, it gives a satisfying crunching sound when tasting it for the first time.

Barbecued Suckling Pig

To accompany these barbecued meats, a bowl of rice or noodles is appropriate. I opted to select a Yung Kee special called lai fun. These are made from scratch each day at the restaurant and have a few unique properties. Lai fun are noodles made of rice flour and look identical to Italian spaghetti, because they are smooth and cylindrial with ends that are straight. Their texture differs from pasta by being lighter and less chewy (think: not "al dente" with pasta). Similar to other rice noodles, they have a smoother surface. These were served in a delicate soup broth, topped with some young, green scallion.

Lai Fun

Yung Kee [鏞記] . 32-40 Wellington Street . Central . Hong Kong
Reservations strongly recommended.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Peaches & Cream Cake

Amanda's Birthday was one of the summer birthdays and I wanted to create something light and fruity. Unfortunately I was also crunched for time, so I pulled out a recipe that someone from work recommended to me. It is a cake recipe based on a cake mix, which I am generally against. I am a control freak and like to know of all the ingredients that go into cakes. Additionally, I try to scale back on sugar whenever I can. However, this cake turned out to be moist, delicious and not to sweet. It was such a hit that I made it again for my brother's birthday later that fall. My family really enjoyed it, which says a lot, since they generally do not enjoy very sweet desserts. Also, one last sidenote: This is an easy, introductory cake for someone who wants to try their hand at baking.

Peaches & Cream Cake
adapted from Anne Byrn, "The Cake Mix Doctor"

* vegetable shortening, for greasing cake pans
* flour, for dusting cake pans
* 1 can (29 oz) peach halves, drained and syrup reserved
* 1 pkg yellow cake mix
* 8 tbsp butter, melted
* 4 eggs
* 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
* Fresh Whipped Cream (recipe to follow)

01. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
02. Grease two 9" cake pans with vegetable shortening; dust with flour; shake out excess flour.
03. Place 8 peach halves in a food processor fitted with steel blades; process until smooth.
04. Reserve 3/4 cup peach syrup and the rest of the peach halves.
05. Place cake mix & melted butter in a mixing bowl; mix on low speed, adding one egg at a time.
06. Add peach puree; add vanilla extract; mix on high for 2-3 minutes.
07. Divide batter into both cake pans evenly.
08. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out dry.
09. Remove pans from oven; cool for 10 minutes.
10. Remove cakes from the pan; poke holes with toothpick into cake while warm.
11. Drizzle 1/4 cup of reserved syrup juices on each cake; let cool completely.

Fresh Whipped Cream

* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1 pkg Dr. Oetke's Vanilla Sugar
* 1/4 cup peach syrup

01. Whip heavy cream in chilled bowl & chilled beaters.
02. When soft peaks form, add Dr. Oetke's Vanilla Sugar.
03. Drizzle in peach syrup.

Assembly Directions:
01. Cut remaining peach halves into slices for decorating.
02. Place one cake right side up; spread with whipped cream.
03. Place second cake right side up on first; frost top & sides with remainder of whipped cream.
04. Assemble peach slices on top of the cake.

Tips & Tricks:
* Do not over beat the whipped cream.
* If you do not have Dr. Oetke's Vanilla Sugar at hand, substituting 1 tbsp confectioner's sugar & 1 tsp pure vanilla extract will yield just as tasty a whipped cream.
* Alternative to decorating the cake with peach slices, cubing the peaches and adding them to 1/3 the whipped cream to use as the center filling also works.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More posts promised

My travel schedule has been very erratic lately, but the sudden bursts of fall birthdays has kept me busy baking and cooking. I promise a string of posts that will follow soon with lots of delicious recipes, just in time for the holidays.

Look out also for new blog design changes. And I will have to set up an online album to store my pictures. I have not decided if it will be Picasa or Flickr that will work best with this blog. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Election Day!

This post falls a little out of line with our theme, but i just wanted to share how excited i was about voting this morning. Many of you know how momentous it was for me to become an eligible voter this year. The timing could not be more perfect!

I got my very own ballot and I made my choices heard with my very own little, right index finger. My index finger feels privileged.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween 2008

This year I carved a pumpkin instead of painting it. I chose a cat pattern using a kit:

With a candle inside:

Justin and I also decided to make our Halloween costumes. I was a leprechaun. I crocheted the wig to the hat and created a crocheted beard from the same orange yarn. The green t-shirt has a black felt belt sewed to it with a yellow felt buckle. You'll also see that my shoes have a yellow felt buckle. I had a tough time deciding on the green pants, but found the perfect green velveteen track suit. Lastly, to accessorize, I have a black pot of gold chocolate coins.

For Justin's costume we created a hippie look - bandana, homemade tie-dye t-shirt, and homemade hemp bracelet and necklace. Don't we look cool?
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