Spot Prawns, Asian style.

Live spot prawns

I spent 30+ minutes looking up ‘Spot Prawns’ in food dictionaries and food lover’s guides but to no avail. Two possibilities: These are old edition books; the spot prawns are not yet discovered in other parts of the culinary world, except Japan and China.

Spot prawns are adored over Japan and China.  Most of all, our Asian friends don’t mind paying double or triple the price to get them. They have been major exporters of fresh spot prawns when in season and the main reason why only a small portion of BC Spot Prawns stay here for us to enjoy. Japanese name them “Ama Ebi” referring to the sweet flavour.  In China, it’s called ‘Peony Prawns’, aptly so for their large size, reddish-brown shells and long tentacles. Live ones, when turned upside down; do look like gorgeous blooms of peony. Thanks to the Chefs Table Society of BC who had a profound conversation with the Spot Prawn fishermen and came to an important agreement. British Columbians can access to these live-from-the ocean prawns locally in markets and eateries during the annual 6 – 8 weeks of spot prawn season, and to enjoy them under the ocean-wise and sustainability regime. The Spot Prawn Festival was created 9 years ago to work as the platform to educate the general public and as an annual celebration to welcome the season.

Chef Ken with spot prawns

Taken place at Fisherman’s Wharf off False Creek last Sunday, the festival is the gist of the short spot prawn season which would last until early July. For the first time this year, 2 Asian chefs: Chef Ken Liang of Ken’s Chinese Restaurant and Chef Scott Kwan of Kaya Malay Bistro were invited to come on board to cook those fresh-off-the-boat prawns on stage. While Asian chefs demonstration authentic Asian dishes are not a common public scene (even on food network); they did indeed wow the crowd with mystifying Asian cooking technique and unusual flavours.Poached spot prawns on Kale

Chef Liang is known for its creative Cantonese and Hong Kong-style recipes using local ingredients. His restaurant’s popularity reached its paramount when Conde Nast Traveller declared Vancouver’s Chinese cuisine the best in the world and enlisted Chef Liang’s Golden Dungeness Crab as one of the must-have dishes. The magic, according to Liang, is the live seafood tank, the unique seasoning, cooking method and wok energy. Same can be said about the spot prawns.  This time, Liang takes advantage of a locally-grown vegetable, the mighty kale to shine with the magnificent prawns. “Both are sensational! The sweet, succulent and meaty BC spot prawns and the superfood kale! They are easy to cook, delicious to eat and guarantee 100% satisfaction to your palate and stomach.”Chef Kwan #2

The soon to be 3 year old Kaya has managed to collect astounding accolades in a short time, including Best Malaysian Restaurant Awards granted by Georgia Straight and West Ender.  A Canadian with Malaysian and Chinese background, Chef Kwan credits his cooking skill to his mom and a chef friend whom he worked with for a long time. Kwan chose his made-by-scratch sambal sauce using his mom’s complex S.E. Asian spicy paste recipe. Coated with the golden and aromatic sambal sauce, the spot prawns were beyond finger-licking good.

Sambal Spot Prawns & Summer  Hill Cipes

Here are their recipes.

Chef Scott Kwan – Kaya Malay Bistro

Sambal-styled Spot Prawns香芒沙巴牡丹蝦

Serves 3 – 4 with plain rice

Ingredients for Sambal Sauce:

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 lemongrass, white part only, coarsely chopped

1 tsp. chopped galangal

1 tsp. chopped turmeric

1 fresh birds- eye chili pepper

4 pcs candlenuts (can be substituted with walnut)

2 Tbsp. shrimp paste

1 tsp. white sugar

 

Other Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp. dried shrimps peels

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

2 lbs. spot prawns

1 tsp. Sriracha chili sauce

1 tsp. oyster sauce

1 Tbsp. tomato sauce (ketchup)

1/2 cup water

1 tsp. light soy sauce

1 tsp. white wine

1 cup mango, cut into ½” chunks

½ cup chopped Chinese cilantro (optional)

 

  1. For the Sambal Sauce: Place all ingredients in a food processer and blend until it forms into a paste.
  2. Heat wok on high until red-hot. Add olive oil, shrimp peels, sugar, salt and ground pepper. Mix well.
  3. Add paste, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add spot prawn, chili sauce, oyster sauce and tomato sauce. Stir and mix. Using a spatula, gently coat prawns with sauce.
  5. Cook each side for 45 to 60 seconds.
  6. Add water, soy and white wine. Mix well. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until prawns turn red.
  7. Add mango. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.
  8. Transfer to a deep dish and garnish with cilantro.

Chef Ken Liang – Ken’s Chinese Restaurant

Poached Spot Prawns on a bed of Kale錦繡牡丹蝦

Serves 2 to 3 as an appetizer or as a main with plain rice

Ingredients

6 to 8 cups water (or enough to cover the prawns)

6 to 8 slices of ginger

2 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. salt

½ ground black pepper

2 lbs. spot prawns

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic

1/2 lb. kale, into 1” lengths

 

  1. In a large saucepan, bring water and ginger to a boil on high.
  2. In a wok, melt 1½Tbsp. butter on medium high heat, add garlic.
  3. Add kale. Stir and cook for 1 minute, add ½ tsp. salt and pepper. Stir well. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or to your desired softness.
  4. While kale is being cooked, water in saucepan should be boiling, Add remaining butter, salt and prawns. Cook for about 2 minutes or until prawns turn red.
  5. Transfer cooked kale to a dish.
  6. Using a slotted ladle, transfer prawns on top of kale.

 

 

 

 

Dear Mom , this soup is for you!

DIY breakfast or dessert for mom

DIY breakfast or dessert for mom

DIY Sweet Soup for Mom

(Mother’s Day segment on CBC North by Northwest, May 10th)

It is always a big delight to talk food and culture with Sheryl, more so this time because we are both mothers.  I often bring along a sampling of the food and small portions of the ingredients needed. We chit-chat while we sample the food and share the recipe; to me, it is like having friends over for a home-made snack.

A bulb of Jasmine Blossom tea is steeping and blooming in slow-motion in the glass pot. The first cup of tea we pour fills the studio with spring-like floral aroma – we are ready to celebrate Mother’s Day in our own simple but satisfying version.

Enjoy a cup of tea with mom.

Mother’s Day, like any other celebration and festival, has been commercialized. While we don’t see too many ads about taking moms to fast food joints for obvious reasons; commercials of gift-giving and nice dining seem to target affluent sons and daughters or at least those who believe they could afford them and should buy them for Mom. Mother’s Day is, to the busy ones or not, may just be a casual formality to say “Mom I love you” by handing her the gift and/or take her out to brunch or lunch or dinner. The justification? Everyone is busy with work, friends, playtime, social media these days and Mom is only mom who’ll be around all the time, so what‘s the fuss?

What about spending time with her? One day in a year, put down your cell phone; turn off your i-pad; ask your friends to wait! Go sit with her, talk to her and listen patiently. Ask her about her high school days, her romance with Dad; what your childhood was like; or simply, “Mom, how did you spend yesterday, what about last week?”

For this segment, we talk about having tea with mom; cook a simple meal or bake a cake or cookies for her, or with her. Perhaps, all mothers need is YOU, not another scarf, another purse, or another meal in a jam-pack restaurant.

The recipe I am sharing is a dessert soup made with taro, barley, tapioca pearl and coconut milk, one of my favourite S.E. Asian sweet soups.  Enchanting flavour and velvety texture and very easy to make, the cooking time is about 10 minutes. Taro is a good source of dietary fibre, Vitamin C & E, potassium, folate and magnesium; and is sold fresh in ready-to-cook packages in the vegetable section.

A bowl of silky sweet taro and coconut milk dessert

A bowl of silky sweet taro and coconut milk dessert

 

Recipe: Taro Root Coconut Milk Dessert Soup with Barley & Tapioca Pearl

Serves 3 to 4

2 Tbsp. barley

1 Tbsp. tapioca pearl

3 cups water

2 cups taro root, into ½” cubes

60 – 75 gm rock sugar

1 can 400ml coconut milk

  • Place barley, tapioca pearl and water in a medium saucepan, soak for 30 minutes.
  • Place saucepan on stove. Bring to a boil on high heat, add taro and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Turn heat to medium low, add rock sugar. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until rock sugar melts.
  • Turn to medium high heat. Add coconut milk. Stir well. Bring to a soft boil and turn off heat.

Peeled and portioned Taro root

 

 

 

Sipping Sake in Japan

Lantern signs

Words/Pix: Henry Yuen

Chinese blog: http://blog.taiyanbao.ca/life/430786

Milder and lower alcohol content; a less floral but earthier bouquet; trimmer acidity with subtle sweetness are perhaps the reasons why sake has been favoured by Japanese and Asians.  But most wine lovers would agree, sake does complement Japanese cuisine intricately, especially with sushi and sashimi. The refined flavour of sake along with the tantalizing mouth feel caress the raw seafood in our palates charmingly.  No wonder sake is gaining popularity rapidly on the global beverage platforms.

Like most imported goods, the varieties of sake available in Vancouver is limited and usually of average grade. One may have to go to rather high end Japanese restaurants to find true premium sake. Make no mistake; what is available here is only a tiny fraction of the sake produced in Japan. Needless to say, my recent trip to Japan was a seven day affair of non-stop eating and drinking; with sake taking the centre stage.

premiums sake everywhere

We landed in Tokyo at night and the first thing on the itinerary early next morning was to visit the world famous Tsukiji Fish Market.  After over 2 hours of wide-eyed amazement and sometimes disbelief of the magnitude of seafood being handled and traded daily, we sat down in one of the sushi restaurants and had the best raw seafood and beautifully plated sea urchin set for breakfast. Even though it was 9am in the morning, I reminded myself it’s night time in Vancouver; therefore sipping sake was in natural order. There was no wine list to speak of so you just pointed at the display bottles to make your selection and almost immediately sake was served, and to my delight, the authentic way  – in a small square wooden box.  The wooden box emitted a very faint smokiness but somehow added a mysterious character to the sake. While small sake cups, either ceramic or glass, were common, I had come across artistic sets and strange looking shapes and I must admit, they all pushed the experience up one notch. A good way to embrace the arts of sipping local sake for sure!

Sake & sushi

No matter what season it is, slightly chilled sake has always been the norm here; room temperature sake is not unusual either. However, if you prefer your sake warm, please let them know. Mind you, they do serve sake warm, but never hot! Warm sake is usually reserved for utility grade sake while premium grade is preferably served slightly chilled. Almost every restaurant, no matter how tiny, offers sake. And more often than not; serve beer, sake and wine or anything alcoholic in a very casual manner.  Even the young waitress can go to the back, pick up a bottle and pour it for you. Sake sommelier?  I was quite sure they were around, but I did not have the pleasure to meet one during my sake days in Japan.

Sake glasses

Since restaurants of all sorts were everywhere, so were sake: On shelves, by the door, in boxes, barrels;  lined-up in bottles against the wall or by the back exit… Palpably, sake selections were never short; a few of which I was pretty sure I encountered and tasted back home. The price points varied too, but as expected, they were much more wallet-friendly. Many restaurants offer individual (200ml) sizes which they left the bottle on the table. Some were poured directly from the magnum bottle which was lifted right in front of you for your sake by the glass orders. Sake-paired meals should be available somehow somewhere; unfortunately, no one at the front desk or dining room in any of the restaurants spoke good enough English to answer my inquiry.

A display of fine premium sake in Kyoto

Most restaurants serve their sake generously to showcase their hospitality. Not only was the cup or box always filled to the brim; there were the extra friendly and very appreciative way to over-pour so the sake cup or box was actually dripping.  With a dish smartly placed underneath to catch the overflow, this gesture was not just an eye-opener, but  big hugs worth, only if they let me!  Ha, don’t I wish Vancouver restaurants could pick up this smart practice, even when serving beer and wine!

special sake glass

 

 

 

Soup for Spring

Asian Pear sweet soup

“Soup for Spring” recipes (As heard on CBC North by Northwest, March 14th)

1. Chicken and Watercress soup 

1 small to medium stewing chicken, skinned and chopped into large pieces

3 pcs. dried honey dates, rinsed

2 cups thickly sliced carrots

2 lbs. fresh watercress, rinse-cleaned and drained (you can use seeded and skinned green papaya and/or green apple instead)

12 to 14 cups of water

  • In a soup pot, bring chicken pieces and 3 cups water to a boil on high. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove chicken pieces. Discard water.
  • Scrape off chicken fat and rinse.
  • Place all ingredients in the soup pot and bring to a boil on high. Cook for 10 minutes uncovered. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for at least two hours covered, leaving a small opening to avoid soup from boiling over. (You can transfer the soup to a slow cooker for the long boil)

2. Asian Pear Sweet Soup

 

3 cups water

2 Tbsp. dried goji berries, rinsed.

¼ cup dried longan, rinsed.

1 large Asian pear, cubed

¼ cup pitted and ready to use gingko nuts, rinsed

50 – 60 gm rock sugar

  • Put water, goji berries and dried longan in a medium saucepan. Cover and soak for 5 minutes.
  • Add pear and gingko nuts, bring to a boil on medium high, covered.
  • Turn heat to low. Add sugar. Cook for 10 minutes covered or until sugar all melts.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes.

 

3. Lemon & Cinnomon Tea

10 oz. hot boiled water

2 slices of fresh lemon

1 x 2” cinnamon stick

Put all ingredients into a cup. Cover and soak for 2 – 3 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oyster & Hairy moss on green

My Chinese New Year Table

Gung Hey Fat Choi

Words & pix: Stephanie Yuen

My Chinese New Year celebration usually starts with questions such as “What to eat to celebrate Chinese New Year? What are you cooking for the family’s New Year feast?”

Thanks to my media friends, my last few TV appearances, radio and newspaper interviews were all about Lunar New year folklores, customs and culinary traditions.  We all know the food we eat during this celebrative season all carries auspicious meaning. Must haves include deep-fried pastries, candies and desserts, pig trotters, pork tongues, whole steamed fish, whole chicken with head and tail, hairy moss, lotus roots…the list is long.

To welcome the arrival of the New Year, moms and grandmothers (Chinese men of the house don’t usually cook at home) will be grocery-shopping weeks ahead. Like Christmas cookies, we do have classic holiday snacks and pastries to make, on top of preparing for several big feasts.  In the old days, the New Year celebration could spread up to 15 days. Candies, pastries, seeds, nuts, fresh, sugared and dried fruits, a majority of which will be laid out beautiful round Chinese lacquer platters for the duration of the celebration for visiting friends and families to munch on. Deep-fried golden dumplings (Pieces of gold); Large size sesame balls (Lots of wholesome goodness and fortune rolling in); Sugared lotus seeds and roots (Wealth and harmony), Prawns (Happiness and laughter); candies in colourful wraps (lucky charms) and crunchy arrow-root chips (gold coins) frequent the platter. While deep-frying in oil symbolizes smoothness and thought to lubricate any frictions and mishaps, gold, silver and red colours indicate positive energy, wealth and good fortune.     Oyster & Hairy moss on green

Lunar New Year is the most important festival of the whole year; Chinese around the world celebrate it religiously. Family members, no matter where they are, are expected to return home for the reunion New Year’s Eve dinner when everyone sits around the large round table to eat, drink and be merry.

We eat pan-fried or steamed golden cakes the morning of the New Year day.  Savory ones are made with daikon and taro-root, sweet ones are made with brown sugar or coconut milk so the New Year will be filled with sweetness, opportunities and progress.

Yut-tung-heen ma-lai-goh

Here is the menu of my family New Year dinner.

  • A pot of soup made with dried oysters and hairy moss – Blooming business and great profit.
  • A plate of pan-fried prawns – A year filled with happiness and laughter.
  • A caserole of braised pig trotters and tongues on Asian green – Big profits and rewards.
  • Deep-fried Tofu pockets stuffed with seasoned ground pork and fish, pan-fried and braised – A platter of gold nuggets.
  • Mushroom trio on Gailan – A house full of silver and treasure.
  • A duo of fish, head and tail intact, one steamed, one pan-fried – A year of bounty.
  • Braised Taro Roots & Vegetable Stew – A pot of wholesome goodness.
  • Steamed lotus wrapped fried rice – Pots of gold and silver pieces
  • Golden Kabocha Sweet Soup – Soothes our hearts and souls and brings harmony and sweetness in the New Year.
  • A plate of sweets and fresh fruits – Happy together to celebrate a fruitful year

IMG_6045

Pan-fried prawns

Fried-rice wrapped in lotus leaf

Stephanie’s Chinese New Year recipes

  1. A Fish of Bounty

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4 with steamed rice

Ingredients:

2 pc. T&T dried shitake mushrooms, rinsed and soaked in ½ cup hot water for 30 to 45 minutes in advance, or until mushrooms are softened completely

1 1½ to 2 lb live Tilapia, head & tail intact, scaled, gutted and cleaned.  Cut 2 X 1” slits on each side below the gill where the thickest of the fish is.

1 Tbsp. julienned ginger

¼ cup julienned green onion

¼ cup julienned cilantro

¼ cup cooking oil

1 Tbsp T&T dark soy sauce

1 Tbsp T&T light soy sauce

1 Tbsp water

½ tsp. sugar

 

Method:

  • Remove mushroom cap and julienne thinly, discard water.
  • Bring 3 cups of water in a large steamer (or wok) to a full boil. (Make sure the fish dish fits the steamer or wok. You can also use a microwave steamer to steam the fish and should take less time to cook)
  • Pat dry fish and place on dish. Spread ginger and mushroom evenly on fish. Place dish in steamer, cover and steam for 12 to 15 minutes. To test for doneness, poke the thick of the fish with a sharp knife. Fish is ready when knife comes out clean.
  • In a small saucepan, mix dark and light soy sauce, water and sugar on medium high, bring to a gently boil. Remove from heat.
  • Remove fish dish from steamer, add green onion and cilantro. .
  • In a small saucepan, bring oil to a boil. Sizzle onto green onion and cilantro. Pour sweet soy mixture on top.
  • B) Lettuce Wraps of Prosperity

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves 6 to 8 (as an appetizer)

 

Ingredients:

1 lettuce, rinse and drip dry, cut 1” off head and into 2-halves vertically for easy peeling

1 Tbsp cooking oil

6 pc. button or brown mushroom, small-diced

1 small can water-chestnut, drained and diced

A pinch of sea salt

2 cups barbecued duck or barbecued pork, diced

2 cups cooked shrimp, diced

½ cup crushed T&T unsalted cashew nuts (or peanuts)

½ cup Hoisin sauce

2 Tbsp T&T Teriyaki sauce

1 Tbsp water

1 tsp brown sugar

 

Methods:

  • Peel off leaves which should be palm-shaped and stack them on a plate. Reserve small leaves for other use.
  • Heat oil in pan on high. Add mushroom, stir well. Add water-chestnut. Stir and cook for 90 seconds, add salt, mix well and place in a bowl.
  • Return wok to stove, add duck, stir and reheat on medium high for 20 – 30 seconds, place in a bowl.
  • Reheat shrimp in wok for 20 – 30 seconds, place in a bowl.
  • Place crushed nuts in a bowl.
  • To make a wrap sauce, mix Hoisin, Teriyaki sauce, water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and empty into a sauce bowl.
  • Place lettuce and all the bowls of ready-to-eat ingredients on the table for individuals to fill their own lettuce wraps. Enjoy with wrap sauce.

 

 

  1. C) A pot of blooming gold (Stir-fried Cauliflower with curry) **Vegetarian dish

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 – 15 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1½ tbsp. butter

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups cauliflower, sliced

½ cup milk

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tsp curry paste

½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded

 

  • Melt butter in a pan on medium high heat, add garlic. Stir and cook for 15 seconds.
  • Add cauliflower. Stir well.
  • In a bowl, mix milk, cornstarch and curry paste. Stir into the pan. Mix and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add cheese and cook until melted.

 

 

Everyone’s welcomed – Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival, 2014

HK Wine & Dine Festival

Words: Henry Yuen      Pix: S. Yuen

When I was growing up in Hong Kong, there was this annual “Trade Fair” where all kinds of businesses lined up in one place to showcase their wares. Apparel manufacturers displaying the latest fashion trends; food companies promoting newest products; international brands demonstrating the next must-have appliances; there were household supplies, hard wares, gadgets, toys games and much more. Young ladies in beautiful tailored-made uniforms standing in front of the stalls, encouraging people to  try, test, taste and buy.  Adorned by flashy flirting signs, musical performances and non-stop actions, the fun-filled annual event was something both adults and kids looked forward to every year.

Spectacular opening night performance

Similar yet more vibrant atmosphere and high energy were felt as I walked around the   Wine and Dine Festival in Hong Kong on their opening night; a wine glass in hand, I was elated to be there! The original plan of holding this much-anticipated event in Central was altered due to the demonstration taking place in that area. Kudos to the super organizing power and determined efficiency of Hong Kong Tourism Board and the team of organizers who turned things around as if with a magic wand. Upon entering the site, I was awed by how elaborated the just-erected site in this replacement outdoor venue was! Glittering with lavishing stages, tasting rooms and different themed zones, hard to believe it was all set up in a matter of days. Held at the runway of the old Kai Tak Airport with record attendees, this food and wine event have been fully embraced by the locals and visitors alike, despite the last minute location change.

The Wine & Dine Festival attracted these groups of folks: Those who came to sip the wine, those who came to sample the food, and of course, those who enjoyed both the food and the wine; and those who simply there to cherish the gleeful festivity!

Hong Kong has been well-regarded as a food and wine paradise; the month-long Festival provided a very approachable platform even for first time comers. There is a Chinese saying that you work to keep your stomach full, clothing and lodging come secondary.  Indeed, food has always been an integral part of the Chinese social fabric.  No surprise that the last minute change in venue did not hinder the popularity of the Festival; in fact, the Kai Tak location helps raised the allure as those who are yet to step on it welcome the opportunity to come take at its Cruise Terminal look.

Hong Kong’s affluent wine culture is no doubt the backbone of the huge success of the Wine & Dine Festival. As the wine-drinking society matures in Hong Kong, wine with food, wine on its own, wine for gift-giving has become more or less a social trend, a lifestyle mean and a wind-down tool to ease the everyday hectic paces.

The fabulous setup and the long lineup at the food and wine booths avouched my thoughts and observations. A tasting zone dedicated to the ever popular Bordeaux is a true manifestation of the superiority of the Bordeaux wine reputation in the heart of the Hong Kong wine circles. Not just any French wines but only those from Bordeaux – the allure, charisma and status of a Bordeaux label lives forever in their heart! The very considerate Everyday Wine Zone is there to showcase arrays of wallet friendly wines, a perfect introduction to the new and novice drinkers indeed.  The Discovery Zone where wine merchants brought in rare, unknown and hard to find wines is, needless to say, draws in wine lovers of all levels. The Party Wine Zone focusing on sparkling wines, sweeter and dessert wines are enjoyed on their own or served in various cocktail concoctions. The Country Zone that features wines from popular wine producing regions of the world plus some emerging Eastern European countries such as Georgia and Romania is for exploration and great learning experience.  To top it off, the Riedel Grand Tasting Pavilion with a list of impressive high end wines is the see and to-be-seen arena where folks clamour for and where veteran wine lovers who are there to compare tasting notes and purchasing powers.

Everyday French wine

While there is no doubt people still gravitate towards Bordeaux wines, it is good to see that other wine regions are gaining recognition and consumers begin to realize their wines are well worth their attention and curiosity. The “Drink nothing but Bordeaux” mantra is fading and most people look for value rather than just reputation.

I had a frank discussion with a Mr. Choy  of MegaWill Wine, a wine merchant at the Festival who confessed the Bordeaux popularity and status is not a novelty among those knowledgeable wine folks anymore. When he imports Bordeaux wines, instead of exclusively high end labels, it will now be those Bordeaux labels that are more price-friendly to the drinking public. It is difficult to make a lot of money importing high-end wines since only a shrinking group of elites still clings to that mantra. Due to the geographic proximity to the Asian Pacific countries, Australian and New Zealand wines are equally popular. California wines are also welcome due to the palate acceptance of full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel etc.

Henry & Mr. A. Choy I was amazed by the large number of wine merchants prying their trades at the Festival. I guess the ever increasing drinking population and the relaxed tax rule on wines in Hong Kong readily support more entrants to the wine trade. A case in point was that at one of the Discovery Zone booths, there was this young gentleman Mr. Wing Yau urging us to try his wine. As it turned out, he was the winemaker of a plum wine made locally in Hong Kong. Under the umbrella of Hong Kong Royal Wine Ltd, only a few hundred cases were produced and he hadn’t had time to line up any distributorship or enlisted any restaurants to put his wine on their wine lists.  It was no doubt a relatively new venture for him. Ask where he got the idea and impetus, his answer was it was his love of wine which drove his interest and desire to make wine. “It would be fun to try and make my own wine!” He said so with a grin. Consistent with the self-assurance of most folks in Hong Kong, he welcomed the challenge and was not deterred by the steep learning curve facing him. That’s the spirit of the Hong Kong people that we adore and I wish him the best of luck in his new endeavour.

Henry & plum winemaker Wing Yau

While most tasting events in Vancouver charges a higher admission fee, the wine tasting portion at each booth was free. You can taste all the wines you like and would not get drunk by spiting. Spitting is in fact encouraged. Whereas the Hong Kong Food and Wine Festival charged a very low admission fee of about $3-$4 Canadian but each tasting cost a ticket. More expensive wines cost two or three tickets each. As a result, it was difficult to taste a multitude of wines unless you buy a lot of tickets. And you tend not to spit since there was no spit bucket provided. The expectation was that you would finish each glass since you’re paying for it. I guess it makes perfect sense since a low admission fee could lure even casual fans who are free to choose and decide how to spend their dollars by either drinking a little or a lot.

Yak milk wine

With over one hundred and fifty booths and more than ten wines at each booth, it was impossible for me to try too much wine without spitting. In the end, my exercise involved studying each label carefully before selecting and sipping which called for lingering a lot longer at some booths. That was something I didn’t mind at all since the food and ambiance was good and the conversations were enjoyable. Not having to worry drinking and driving, thanks to the free shuttle bus that took us back to the subway station conveniently, definitely elevated the pleasure.  My first Hong Kong Wine & Dine experience was a great one, no matter how I looked at it. I have no doubt the wine trend in Hong Kong will only get better overtime and the public will appreciate and embrace the wine arena more profoundly!

Foodie on Foot – Hong Kong

Words: Stephanie Yuen    Pix: Henry & Stephanie

A recap of our footsteps during our latest visit in Hong Kong, as heard on our food, wine & travel segment with Deborah Moore on AM1470 past Tuesday.

An evening flight landed us at Lantau Airport at 10:15pm. It did not take long at all for us to zip through immigration and customs. Thanks to the superior transportation system of Hong Kong, when we arrived at Mei Food Estate, it’s only 11pm. A 5-min taxi-ride took us to our hotel, Heritage Lodge located within Jao Tsung-I Academy.

Patio

The fascinating history of The Academy was the main reason why we chose to stay here; very friendly room rate was the number 2 reason; Ginkgo House the restaurant where senior power jiving at its best was the other deciding force.

Heritage Lodge(翠雅山房)

http://www.heritagelodgehk.com

Reception area

There are five 2-storey buildings housing 80+ rooms. Clean, tidy and comfortable, the rooms and facilities are comparable to any 3+star hotel, but at a much wallet-friendlier rate. Located at the upper deck of the compound, the lodge is 2 long flights of stairs from the restaurant and the Academy. Shuttle bus that takes riders to the main road, the MTR station at Mei Foo and the entrance to the Academy runs till 9:30pm daily.

Jao Tsung-I Academy (饒宗頤文化館)

800, Castle Peak Raod, Kowloon, Hong Kong. http://www.jtia.hk

An iconic project under the “Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme” of the Development Bureau of the HKSAR Government.

Antique brick buildings and a zen lotus pond

A lush green urban oasis lies atop Lai-Chi-Kok Hill, the compound has played significant roles in the social history making of Kowloon Peninsula. It was a customs station in 1887, a transfer shelter for Chinese labourers recruited by the British Empire to work in mines in South Africa from 1904 to 1906 that later on became a quarantine quarter.  A decade later, it was used as a prison and in 1940’s, it became Lai-Chi-Kok Hospital. In the year 2000, it was the home for the psychiatric rehabilitation centre.  Finally in 2009, the name “Jao Tsung-I Academy” and its cultural status was recognized and officially granted.  Today, the hide-away Academy is the gateway to tranquility, natural beauty and cultural events. It houses a gallery, workshops, exhibition halls, lecture rooms, activity rooms and a theatre and offers free guided tours.

Gingko House (銀杏館)

http://www.restaurant.org.hk

An ordinary looking restaurant with extraordinary missions and a fabulous food philosophy and practice, Gingko House is an integral part of an amazing senior project strategically designed to provide inspiring opportunities for seniors to maintain and enhance their healthy living and to energize the well-beings of their minds and souls after retirement. The senior project is the turning wheel fabricating jobs, providing training and dispatching resources for seniors. A majority of the staff are capable citizens who used to work in key positions. The project invites them to be productive and to belong. Their ability and willingness to contribute, no matter the age, subsequently lead them to regain their confidence and self-respect. With a central kitchen, an organic farm, two Gingko House restaurants and catering service, participating seniors wake up every day to a friendly environment to communicate and learn; to work and be involved in the community. Though situated within the compound of the Academy and share a mutual support with each other, Gingko House is owned and operated independently. With a unique background – physically, historically and culturally; both the Academy and Gingko House are well-regarded and frequently visited by local communities and foreign groups, especially those in the arts and culture field.

Stuffed gluten puffs with light curry sauce

With the organic farm supplying Gingko House and the catering arms, the restaurants thrive on their healthy menu offering; super-friendly and attentive attitude. Having the legendary Sir Run Run Shaw’s very own chef Mr. Low who won Sir Shaw over with a plate of ‘Canned Spicy Pork Fried Rice’ who now works as the Executive Chef for the restaurants and the catering service, superb food quality with a healthy conscience has been the main reason why folks of all walks and ages become regulars here. Gingko House opens for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

HK$38 salad & soup buffet at Gingko House

Highly recommended:

1/ Salad and Soup Buffet

2/ Chef Low’s Fried Rice with XO sauce

3/ Dong-Bor Style Ribs

4/ Stuffed Gluten puffs stuffed with mushrooms (vegetarian)

5/ Hot drinks: Lemongrass Tea and Organic Pu-er Tea

Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival, 2014(香港美酒佳肴巡禮)

This is a trade and consumer event that takes place in November of every year. Usually held at Central, Hong Kong, this year’s event was relocated to the Cruise Terminal at the old Kai Tak Airport. Glittering with neon signs, the outdoor venue gave the Wine & Dine Festival a new look and vibrant energy. With non-stop entertainments, 270 stalls, hundreds of international wines for sipping and purchasing; global gourmet cooked by master chefs on the spot, the 3-day extravaganza attracted record-number attendees.

HK Wine & Dine Festival

Shum Sui Po Foodie Tour (香港風味行深水埗)

www.hongkongfoodietours.com

Operated by Hong Kong Foodie Tasting Tours,this 3¾-hour tour was led by a young lady who spoke fluent English. Besides tasting generous portions of nostalgic food: fresh from the oven jumbo Pineapple Bun, fluffy and steamy plain Rice Rolls, 5-spiced brined Goose meat and Pork Hock slices, Tofu pudding, Hand-made noodle with shrimp roes, Chinese cookies in 6 different eateries, the tour guide also took us on a history walk and talk into the livelihood and many facets of this blue-collar district.

Foodie Tour 1st stopTofu pudding with barley

Made In Hong Kong Restaurant

Shop L1-13, Level 1, APM, Millennium City 5, Kwun Tong

www.madeinhorestaurant.com/index.html

A delightful and well-run café-mall restaurant that has no doubt impressed both the locals and visitors such as myself with its open-floor dining room, well-designed décor and professionally-trained staff. The indigenous Hong Kong style café menu offers array of food items familiar to those who grew up in Hong Kong in the 60’s and 70’s. Tasty and well-presented grubs, good price points and generous portions are the reason for line-ups out front.  The rare-found Chicken A La King caught Henry’s eyes and appetite at first glance, silkily creamy but not heavy atop nicely-buttered rice showed the chef’s attention to details. My fully-loaded sizzling hot plate of mixed grill with just the perfect amount of red-wine jus, was served with well-executed baby beans, snow peas and broccoli.   Chicken A La King - Creamy with full-flown flavour

My sizzling plate of mixed grill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tai-O Eco Tour (昂坪與大澳遊)

http://www.discoverhongkong.com/

360 degree of breath-taking viewThe exhilarating 6-hour tour began with the 5.7km cable-car ride across the sea to Ngong Ping Village where the Tian Tan Buddha, Asian’s 2nd largest outdoor Buddha statue, followed by an exploration of the 800-year old Fishing Village Tai-O which took us back in time where living was simple laughter generated by sweat, blood and tear. In an inland log house, the owner showed us how to prepare duck egg yolks for sun-drying and how to make a sweet soup by grinding white and black beans in a clay pot using a big guava stick the fisherman’s way. Needless to say; the owner had a pot of ready-to-eat sweet bean soup set aside for us to indulge.  fish maw and angular squash

We took a boat ride to look for white dolphins beyond the levee but found none, however, the beautiful South China Sea view and the dolphin search put us into lunch mode. The 5-course lunch featuring local seafood in a neighbourhood restaurant meant non-pretentious home-style cooking which rhymed in perfectly with the sea village setting.

fishmongers selling just-caugh fish

268 steps takes you to the huge Buddha statue

Foodie on Foot – Kobe, Japan

Kobe ChinatownWords & Pix: Stephanie Y

For serious foodies, Kobe means one word – BEEF! It indeed was the renowned Kobe beef that drew us in.  We were lucky enough to experience two Kobe beef encounters, for snacking and for a late lunch; all took place in Kobe Chinatown bordering Motomachi, the most crowded, noisiest and tastiest part of town.  Both encounters were sensational and needless to say expensive, the three grades were $3000-yen apart (C$30), glad to say every bite was worthy.

Kobe beef encounter #1

Kobe beef bowl

It was the young man yelling and waving a cardboard with the food pictures and the phase “Kobe Beef” that stopped us, we then noticed the line-up in front of the street corner where an  open kitchen was located.  The kitchen was the restaurant and the street was the dining room – our definition of true street food! Approximately 40gm of Kobe beef was served in burger form; sliced, sauteed and put on rice; or strip of loin, grilled and cut on rice.  Y$1200 gave you the AA-equivalent grade, $1500 AAA-grade and $1800 champion-grade. Our chosen AAA-grade beef was grilled to our desired doneness, medium rare, sliced to ¼” thick, served with chopped green onion and the beef jus on rice.

Kobe beef encounter #2

Kobe Beef restaurant

In a tiny but comfortably arranged restaurant offering nothing but Kobe Beef  that were grilled and served like steak. Though there’re only 25 seats, the restaurant was one of the quieter eateries in this neighbourhood. Perhaps not too many folks were willing to cough up that kind of money for a piece of steak; or likely because the restaurant charged 5% on top for paying with your credit card, even when the bill was a 5-digit one.  The “set” came with a bowl of soup made with the beef jus, a nice salad and a bowl of rice.  The same three grades applied here and the price ranges similar but since this was a real western-style restaurant, the dollar figures tripled.  For Y$8800, Henry chose the 120gm Champion grade which came certified. I was not quite ready to pay C$88 for a steak dinner hence opted for the next grade which still cost me $5500 (C$55). Both beef dishes came with pan-fried vegetables and were beautifully plated.  Along with the salad, the soup, the beef sets were substantial enough.

Beef-biting notes:

Champion-grade Kobe beef is without a doubt, heavenly! Supreme marbling knits in the al dente mouth feel. The ‘oh mine’ thrill upon entering the mouth echoes with the crisp yet moist; meaty yet buttery euphoria your palate will remember for a long time. Each bite gives you the first bite umami that keeps making love to your senses.

Kobe beef

AAA-grade Kobe beef worked fine medium rare since a little bit of chewing will expand the flavour profile and enjoyment. The thick slices of beef carried a melt-in-your-mouth texture but charred outer layer and the tender core layer combined to create a demanding depth.

If your wallet does not object, go for the champion grade and order it ‘rare’ – the only way to embrace the divinity of  the flavour and texture granted to Kobe beef to the fullest. We both agree the 120gm set of Kobe beef is good enough to satisfy the indulgence, however, the qualitative pressure beef bowl is produces as good as the well-plated beef set in the restaurant. But of course, if you so desire, do go all out.

Happy Moon Festival

Mooncakes

Words & pix: Stephanie Yuen

The beautiful thing about working as a spokesperson for Loblaw is that I get to talk about Chinese traditions, culinary culture and recipes. For instance, I shared moon folklores and reminisced on fun childhood memories with the Vancouver Sun readers on Mia’s article; went onto CTV Morning and Global Noon News and cook with taro roots and fall roots and vegetables – two easy-to-do dishes to be had any time.

The moon festival happening today came early this year. Besides adoring the bright and full moon, we ought to be thankful for what’s been granted to us, in our daily living. For harvesting does not refer only to farmers, it also refers to how we embrace life. A good harvest can be as simple as food on the table, shared with friends and families!

Moon Festival 2014 – Stephanie Yuen’s recipes

 a/ Wok-fried Noodles with Chicken and Garden Vegetables

Serves 4

3 pc T&T brand Dried Shiitake mushrooms

300g T&T brand Fine Dry Noodles (1.8kg box package)

200g Chicken breast, julienned

3 Tbsp cooking oil

2 Tbsp chopped shallot

100g Julienned jicama

2 stalks  Julienned celery

½ red or orange pepper; julienned

½ tsp sea salt

2 tsp T&T brand light soy sauce

2 tsp Chili bean sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp sugar

1/ Rinse mushroom and soak in 1 cup of hot water for 30 minutes or until softened. Remove caps and julienne mushrooms. Set mushroom liquid aside.

2/ Follow cooking instructions on box to cook the noodle.

3/ In a bowl, mix chicken with 1 tsp soy sauce, ½ tsp sesame oil and ½ tsp sugar.

4/ Place wok on high heat, add 1 Tbsp cooking oil, add shallot and brown for 15 seconds. Add remaining oil and chicken, stir and cook for 2 minute on medium high. Add jicama, celery and pepper, stir and cook for 30 seconds. Add noodles and remaining seasoning, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add 3 Tbsp of mushroom liquid. Stir, cover and cook for another minute.  Enjoy!

Wok fried noodles with celery & jicama

Turkey, Taro and Shiitake Stew

Serves 4 on rice

300g turkey breast, cut into ½” dices*

2 Tbsp cooking oil

1 Tbsp oyster sauce

6 pcs T&T brand dry shiitake mushrooms

200g taro meat, quarter first and cut into thick slices**

1 tsp chopped ginger

1 tsp dark rice vinegar

1 tsp cooking wine

½ tsp sea salt

1 tsp sugar

¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro (optional)

1/ Marinate turkey with 1 tsp cooking oil and 1 tsp oyster sauce for about 15 minutes.

2/ Rinse mushrooms and soak in 1½ cup of hot water for 30 minutes. Remove caps and quarter mushrooms. Set mushroom liquid aside.

3/ Heat remaining oil in wok on high heat, add ginger, brown for 10 seconds.

4/ Add turkey, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and taro. Stir well.

5/ Add remaining ingredients, mix well. Stir in mushroom liquid, bring to a boil. Cover and cook on medium for 10 minutes or until 20% of liquid remains.

6/ Add cilantro and serve with rice.

 

*Can be replaced by pork or beef tenderloin.

** Taro skin contains certain enzyme which causes itchiness. Wear kitchen gloves when peeling skin off taro to avoid getting itchy. Once skin is removed, handle the meat normally.

 

 

 

 

Beyondchopsticks.com on AM1470 with Deborah Moore

Close encounter with Thai Cuisine at the Royal Thai Consulate-General’s residence.

First there were beautiful displays of fruit carvings; and then a picturesque line-up of Thai ingredients, herbs, spices and sauces. Next came the authentic Thai dish -cooking demonstration by two big-named chefs from Thailand who were also professional Instructors at Suan Dusit Rajabhat University:  Dr. Naruemon Nantaragsa and Mr. Siriseangphaiwan. They did make cooking Thai cuisine simple and easy!

IMG_7465

According to Dr. Nantaragsa, authentic ingredients are the keys to eccentric Thai dish. These are the must-haves for the two popular menu items found in most Thai restaurants in town.

1/ Pad Thai

Key ingredients: Dried shrimps, palm sugar, fish sauce, tamarind juice, chilli powder and pickled white radish.

2/ Penang Curry

Key ingredients: Coconut milk, Thai basil, palm sugar, fish sauce, Penang curry paste, kaffir lime leaves.

Being only a week away from the Moon Festival, the Chinese Mid-Autumn Celebration (Monday, September 8) was naturally the focus of the September 2nd segment.

When Real Canadian Super Stores and No Frills display red and gold boxes of moon cakes, and ingredients for cooking a celebrative dinner, you know that Moon Festival (the Chinese version of Thanksgiving) is no longer an Asian celebration but a fun and delicious reason for anyone to bring families and friends together.  Moon cakes are great dessert pastries, to be enjoyed with a pot of tea or your favourite coffee, along with a table full of fresh fruits, candies and nuts, they are the centre piece for the after-dinner full moon celebration in the yard, the patio and even an evening picnic at the park – just go out there and adore the moon and be thankful for a good harvest.

Traditional moon cakes available at The Real Canadian Super Stores and No Frills

A special TWG treat (Urban Tea Merchant Downtown Vancouver)

Come Moon Festival celebration time, a box or two of moon-cakes as a token of appreciation and respect to your parents, the elderlies and all the loved ones may seem boring, may even be a bit too convenient sometimes? What more can you do?

IMG_7509

A decadent and unique “Moon Festival Tea Service” at The Urban Tea Merchant located at Georgia/Alberni @ Thurlow (Tel# 604-692-0071 ) that is.  Decadent is their specially crafted and assembled platter of gourmet delicacies: Miso-glazed sable fish, “Dignitiary’s Tea” chicken cone, chilled prawn ceviche, Fois Gras, fresh tropical fruit and TWG Tea Mooncakes.

Unique are inarguably those Tea Mooncakes – classic shapes of round mooncakes and traditional styles to enhance the celebrative mood but are loaded with tea-infused paste. This year, TWG’s Tea Mooncake edition is called “Red Lantern”, last year was called Silver Moon – enticing and very fitting terms for this Chinese Thanksgiving and get-together celebration. The tea mooncakes are: Red Lantern, Emperor, Constellation and Moonlight are the four flavours. These are limited-time editions available in 3 packaging: 4 and 2 with a special red and white blend of “Red Lantern” tea and the single box.  Check them out soon because they may not be available after September 15.

Moon Festival Buffet for the whole family at Pan Pacific Hotel

For many years, Pan Pacific Vancouver has established its own longstanding tradition of offering a sumptuous Asian-influenced brunch, complete with trademark moon cakes, made in-house by our pastry chef, Hans Pirhofer.

This year, the Chinese Moon Festival Brunch in the Café Pacifica will include a wide range of delights with inspiring salads, a dim sum station, fresh sushi, cold seafood – salmon, snow crab and jumbo prawns, and, of course, our legendary dessert buffet.

Pan Moon Cakes

***Other Events***

5th Tomato Festival at Provence – Chef’s Tomato Menu

Provence Chefs/Proprietors Alessandra and Jean-Francis Quaglia have been giving the season’s wonderful tomatoes the highest note of praise through their creation of Chef’s Tomato Menu. “We are fortunate to have so many heirloom varieties available locally,” says Chef Jean-Francis. “There isn’t any flavour that says ‘summer’ more to me than tomato. The flavours are so intense and each variety is completely different from the other but all are equally wonderful.”

Jean-Francis & Alexandria team up with wholesome tomatoes

Provence Mediterranean Grill’s menu ($45) starts with Tomato Three Ways that includes chilled tomato ‘cappuccino,’ buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad and a Provençal tomato tartlette. Once you’ve polished that off, you must then decide between one of two main courses – how do you choose between Duck Breast Scaloppini or Pan-Seared Mediterranean Sea Bass Filet? Both come accompanied by smoked tomato and bacon marmalade, fiddleheads and sun-dried tomato gnocchi. For dessert, there is Candied Tomato Panna Cotta served with rhubarb honey and a pistachio tuile.

These amazing dishes, from salad to soup, cold and hot appetizers to even desserts, promise to wow your visions and palates. Chef’s Tomato Menu is now being offered at the two Provence Restaurants till Monday, September 22nd.

Provence Marinaside and The Wine Bar (water front @Davis, Yaletown Tel: 604-681-4144 ) and Provence Mediterranean Grill (W. 10. Tel: 604-222-1980)   http://www.provencevancouver.com

Chefs for Ocean

Join Chef Bell to celebrate his return from a successful journey across Canada, at the grand finale event  – a not-to-be-missed food event for a very important cause.

Chef Ned Bell preparing an Asian dishWhere: The Four Seasons Hotel on

When: Friday, September 12 from 6pm to 8pm.

Chef Bell has partnered with like-minded chefs across the country to host 20 sustainable seafood events from coast to coast, and the final event in Vancouver is no different.  Co-hosted with the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program and SeaChoice, Chef Ned will be joined by the following chefs for an evening of decadent seafood tastings, storytelling and celebrations.

  • · Rob Clark, The Fish Counter
  • · Quang Dang, West Restaurant
  • · Frank Pabst, Blue Water Café and Raw Bar
  • · Tim Bedford, Vancouver Aquarium
  • · Dino Renaerts, Bon Vivant Group
  • · James Coleridge, Bella Gelateria

Ticket prices are $40 with free admission for children aged 12 and under.  Event proceeds support the Chefs for Oceans journey and a portion of net funds will be donated to its’ three primary beneficiaries, Vancouver Aquarium’s ocean-friendly Ocean Wise ™ program, SeaChoice and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).

To purchase tickets via Eventbrite: http://www.cfovancouver.eventbrite.com

Restaurant of the week:

Left Bank – Newest French Bistro on Denman

Stroll down for restaurant review…IMG_7413