What a Year

hk skyline

2013 was a big year for me. Last night, as I flipped back the pages in my mind before the clock strikes twelve, some memories formed into paintings of joy and laughter while others displayed a sense of melancholy.  It was the year where I decide to make a drastic change in my life with a precious opportunity which I am actually not quite prepared for.

Leaving home to work in a foreign country for the first time, the move to Hong Kong itself was already an experience. Besides getting to know the ways of living in this new city, my taste buds are also being challenged to recipes, flavors and textures that I am not accustomed to.

While the new may be interesting, it is often the familiar that kept me settled.  I’m so glad that my tiny kitchen is now stocked with extra virgin olive oil, Italian canned tomatoes, balsamic and my favorite spices.

Here’s a simple recipe to share. Happy New Year my friends!

Drumsticks Baked with Balsamic Vinegar

baked chicken with balsamic

Drumsticks

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Crushed black pepper

Dried rosemary (fresh ones are too costly over here)

Sea salt

Paprika

Lemon juice

Marinate drumsticks with all other ingredients overnight. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 45 minutes or until it looks good to the eye. Squeeze a wedge of lemon juice over before serving with your favorite greens or baked vegetables.

Kitchen Emotions

My profession in identifying and creating core emotions for tv promotion enables me to also connect up all the different emotions that leads me into cooking and baking.

It all begins when I often walk out from a restaurant feeling dissatisfied along with ANGER for paying high bills for lousy food and bad service in this city. And most of the time, what disappoints me is the way good ingredients are being treated poorly.

That is when the temptation and CURIOSITY of wondering if I can cook better food arouse my desire to take up the challenge and re-look at the function of my kitchen with a whole new perspective.

After numerous failures that eventually leads to a few good attempts with some recipes, the feeling of SUCCESS encourage me to create more to share with friends and neighbours which increases HUMAN CONNECTIONS without even noticing it. The reward is enormous.

Here’s a really simple recipe that makes me happy.

marinara w scallops

Pasta Marinara with Canadian Scallops

Canadian scallops

Sea salt

Black pepper

All-purpose flour

Olive oil

Heat up olive oil in a pan. Season scallops with salt, pepper and coat lightly with flour. Fry scallops for 2 minutes on one side and another minute on the other side.

For the sauce:

Fresh basil

Half an onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic

1 can of Italian tomato

Black pepper

Salt

Olive oil

Heat up olive oil in a pot with onions and garlic. The fragrance from the onion and garlic will infuse into the oil when heated up together. Add salt to avoid onions from burning. Sautee till onion turns translucent. Add black pepper, tomatoes and basil. Simmer for 30 mins.

Serve with your favourite pasta and top it up with the gorgeous scallops.

hk loaf 4

Now comes to baking. My FEAR of sending something into the oven and hoping it will come out good stays with me for many years ever since I failed terribly trying to bake a basic sponge cake.

It was until early this year when Anto from relaxingcooking encouraged me to bake my first bread. It is a big emotion of DARING to take up the challenge to start a bumpy journey which I am glad I did and to discover the many secrets of baking along the way.

hk loaf 2

I got to admit I am quite obsessed with bread baking for now and I just can’t wait to log this recipe in that uses ‘tangzhong’ mentioned to me by Jean from bentodays. This method creates a super soft loaf with a long lost flavor which brings me all the way back to my childhood days. Yum!

Soft white bread using ‘Tangzhong’

TangZhong:

50g bread flour

250g water

Cook on low heat and keep stirring continuously until it becomes sticky.

Main dough:

270g bread flour

30g sugar

4g salt

1 egg

90g tangzhong

60g milk

5g yeast

30g butter (soften)hk loaf 3

Mix all ingredients except butter. Put in butter when rest of ingredients is well mixed.

Knead the dough till it passes the window pane test. Form it into a ball and put it into a greased bowl.

Sprinkle some water on dough and cover. Let it proof for 45mins to an hour.

Pre-shape dough into three round loaves and let it sit for 15mins.

For the final shaping, roll the dough to resemble soft rolls and put them side by side in a loaf tin.

Sprinkle some water on top and proof for 45mins to an hour.

Brush with egg wash and bake at 170C in a pre-heated oven for 30mins.

hk loaf 5

BAMBOO SHOOT IN OLIVE OIL

bamboo shoots 1

It is always fun to visit the local market during Chinese New Year period. This is when I can see a lot of rare ingredients that could not be found at other time of the year.

Bamboo shoot used to be a poor man’s food which had become an expensive delicacy. The traditional way of cooking uses boiling salt water to soften it before frying. This time, I fry it raw to retain its crunchiness. I was lucky it turns out well.  

bamboo shoots 2 bamboo shoots 3

Bamboo shoot, remove the layers of outer skin (more than expected) and cut into bite size

Garlic

White wine

Olive oil

Sea salt

Crushed black pepper

Lemon juice

Fry garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Put in bamboo shoot follow by salt and pepper. Add in a glut of white wine and cook for 5 minutes. Squeeze a wedge of lemon juice over and serve immediately.