Monday, June 30, 2008

Back with a Duck, the Beijing Duck

Apologies for not properly giving everyone a chance to wish me "Bon Voyage" before my recent trip to Beijing. I was desperate to leave Hong Kong's typhoonic weather, only to get stranded in the airport as my flight was delayed for more than 6 hours!!! Welcome to Hong Kong's typhoon no 8 signal. But when I finally got to Beijing...

Oh wow! Beijing has changed A LOT since the last time I visited about 7 years ago. Fortunately, for the better.

These are some of the appalling things I won't miss from the old pre-Olympic preparation Beijing:
- The beyond hideous public toilets (Hello pristine, air conditioned, fully equipped public toilets!)
- Countless beggars harrassing you non stop. Get rid of one, here comes 1000 more
- "Persistent" i.e. the pushiest souvenir hawkers EVER. Yes, they do follow you to the toilet and no, language barrier does not deter them

Despite all of the above changes, there are some things which remained authentic. Such as the public toilets at the rows of restaurants beyond famous tourist destinations...and.....this famous roast duck restaurant.

I found it difficult to believe that it was so hard to locate this famous Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant which was recommended by most travel books (this is probably why we should not follow what travel books say?). When our taxi driver finally found it (after asking about the whole population of the district), I was shocked to see this unexpected (although kinda cute) signage leading to the restaurant:

Just follow the ducks...quack quack quack...

..and the ducks led us here:

Am I really at the right place? This corridor doesn't really scream out "famous and always frequented by celebrities"

But do I love the oldness of it...the old floor tiles...the old Chinese furniture...
the cracked wood frames, cracked mirrors...oh yeah, does dirty also mean authentic?'s the award posted on the wall:

Lovely sunlight coming through the roof...

...waiting for my food with my RMB7 instant coffee coming straight out of nescafe packet. The waitress asked me "black or white coffee?" I said white. I didn't know that "white" means "black" in China?? LOL

We were the only customers as it was late afternoon after lunch before dinner time...and the service was...ehm ehm...almost non existent

My "white" coffee was served in one of these Tsing Tao beer glass ^_*

Hot and Spicy Beef and lettuce. This dish was actually pretty damn good. The sauce was hot and spicy, the meat was tender

A line of Chinese wine (I was worried what I'd get if I ordered "house wine")

Various famous people who dined there (or were conned into dining there? LOL)

The skillful young chef, carved the duck in no time (at least it was faster than I could pronounce "Bei Jing Roast Duck with a gorgeous chef on the side" accurately in Mandarin)

The Roast Duck Set RMB190. It comes with a duck, a plate of pancakes, sliced cucumber, chives and the sauce

Soon you won't see this duck anymore...

Pancake, sliced cucumber, chives, duck meat, sauce and roll

Say Ahhh...

...and take a bite...

Bite after bite after bite... (this explains the rapid weight gain LOL)

and I ended up with empty plates...and a thumb up (FYR: the Peking roast duck in Hong Kong's American Peking Restaurant in Wan Chai deserves 2 thumbs up). So, I am sorry to say that the taste of the duck did not justify the much too authentic attitude towards hygiene (i.e. things aren't hygienic there) and good service (i.e . the service sucked).

Li Qun Roast Duck Restaurant
11 Bei Xiang Feng Alley, Zheng Yi Road, off Qian Men Avenue
Beijing China
+86 0 10 6702 5681 / +86 0 10 6705 5578
Opens 12:00 - 22:00 pm

More food from Beijing coming up, stay tuned! ;)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Accessorize, Accessorize - Spicy Prawn Noodles

I never buy the "less is more" concept, and I fell head over heels in love with Nigella Lawson for saying "too much of a good thing can be wonderful" you remember these instant noodle packets I've bought in Penang?

I am very particular about the way I like my instant noodles (I think everyone has their own weird instant noodles related thingy too. Do share ^_^).

These are some instant noodle principals I follow religiously:
- It HAS to be springy and chewy
I loathe overcooked, mushy, limp noodles. I literally dip my noodles in hot water and immediately take it out, my friends told me not to even bother dipping the noodles at all. LOL
- I like to keep it tasty
I put just enough water to be able to slurp, but it can't be too soupy, or all the tastiness will just get washed away
- I love it creamy
The trick is to crack and egg and immediately stir it. It jazzes up the soup base instantly
- Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize
I love adding loads of my favorite things into the noodles. Namely, Justin Timberlake. Oppsssss joking. No, seriously. No, joking. Hehe. OK, my all time instant noodle accessories, they are classic and never go out of style: mini cheese hot dogs, taiwanese mushroom porkballs, fish shao mai, and I meant LOADs of them. The more, the better. For special occasions, I add nicely marbled, thinly sliced beef, or shrimps. and eggs, and cheese, and potato chips, deep fried fish skin...more more more!

I could never ever EVER have instant noodles with nothing else. Call me ruining the whole point of instant noodles convenience, but freak it. I wanna enjoy every pound I gain!

So here's what I added to the already wonderful
Spicy Penang Prawn Noodles

Serves 1 (myself):
- 1 packet of Penang Prawn Instant Noodles (cook according to instructions on the packet)
- a handful of shrimps, deveined, deshelled, sauteed in butter, salt and pepper, set aside, throw on top of the noodles later
- a bunch of finely chopped fresh corriander

- 2 pieces of fish shao mai
- 4 mini cheese dogs
- fried shallots

Cook fish shao mai and mini cheese dogs in boiling water for about 3 minutes, add noodles, prepare the sauce in a bowl, pour noodles and just enough water into the bowl after about 2-3 minutes, add freshly chopped corriander, shrimps and fried shallot. Slurp away.

Sharing this with Presto Pasta Nights gang, hosted this week by Hillary of Chew On That

Boy. I was THIS close to throwing my sous chef into the noodles. LOL

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tasty Satay Beef Burger - Murphy's Law: The Culinary Experience

Have you experienced these circumstances?

The Public Transport Experience
When you're trying to get a cab:
- there's no cab in sight, not even after you walked 5 blocks to find one
- oh there were cabs, but all occupied
- in Hong Kong: oh yeah, there were cabs, but all will ONLY go to places other than your destination
- whichever bus you normally waited for more than 30 minutes, kept passing every few minutes
...and vice versa

The Culinary Experience
When I saw this fabulous blogging event,
Burger Bonanza, I knew I just have to join! I have just the perfect idea for it, and when I went out to get the materials I needed yesterday morning, feeling all charged and excited...and...
- there's NO MINCED BEEF in the nearest supermarket (normally they are ALWAYS package after package of minced beef, especially when I didn't need them)
- I went to another supermarket which is further from my place, under scorching hot summer sun, and still found none
- I went to the wet market, and the beef stalls were CLOSED

The same thing happened when I needed mushrooms. I found none. When I don't need them, there were mushrooms EVERYWHERE in the market LOL

Anyway, finally I could get HK$30 worth of beef, got it minced and I was ready to South East Asianize my burger (why do I always make everything South East Asian??!!! Well, that's just my thing, get over it LOL)

Tasty Satay Beef Burger

The Satay Sauce
You could use ready made satay sauce, such as
Lee Kum Keee's Satay Sauce, dissolve a couple of tablespoons with a bit of hot water, mix in chopped corriander. Add finely chopped chilli if you like your satay sauce hotter

The Caramelized Onions
Half roughly chopped onions, a small clove of garlic (finely chopped), saute with a bit of olive oil, add 2 tbsp soy sauce, 4 tbsp
Indonesian sweet soy sauce (or replace with brown sugar or palm sugar), a bit of hot water, cook until the onions are caramelised

The Buttery Buns
Butter your buns and heat them on a fry pan. Yes, I did mine in a wok. Thus the pressing LOL

I don't like my buns too crispy, just a bit of browned edges and I'm a happy girl

The Juicy Burger Patties
Minced beef, salt, pepper and chopped corriander. I browned and grill 'em until well done to get rid of any microscopic creepy crawlies. Add some satay sauce about one minute before you get them off the heat.

Pour more satay sauce on top. That's one juicy 'n tasty patty. Start to build your layers.

Add the caramelized onion and a bit of the sauce

Add sliced cucumber. Fresh or pickled (acar timun : Indonesian pickled cucumber, marinated in vinegar, sugar, shallot and chilli, refrigerated overnight). Add fresh corriander. Serve with oven grilled chips with some satay sauce and a glass of iced dry ginger ale

I polished off this plate while watching a horror movie on a hot and lazy Sunday afternoon. The meal distracted me from the movie. Thus, the movie didn't feel scary at all, it was bloody tasty. Hehe

...see you in my next culinary quest, trying desperately to find a material I needed, which of course will NOT be so easily available :p

Friday, June 20, 2008

Domestic Violence - Beef & Taiwanese Lettuce in Spicy Fermented Beancurd Sauce

There was a war in Mochachocolata-Rita's household yesterday. My sous chef pissed me off BIG TIME! It was a major one. The kind that makes you feel flaming pissed the whole freaking day. Everything, from the sun to the rain, from the mountain to the sea, simply pissed you off.

Ah...this explained the absence of blog posting yesterday. Luckily. Because. If I were to post something yesterday, the text would have been:
@#$#$#$!$!!!!!! @#$#$$!!!XXXYYYXXASDFLSFIWLQEROR#&#$&#$&!(#$&#(!$&!!!!! ...etc etc...

...with would've sounded like...

"I cooked this BEEPPPPPPPP with BEEPPPPPPPP and it tasted BEEPPPPPPPP and this BEEPPPPPPPP ate it and I can't believe that one can be so BEEPPPPPPPP . How BEEPPPPPPPP hard is it for one to BEEPPPPPPPP BEEPPPPPPPP . Why one has to be BEEPPPPPPPP . Did NOT BEEPPPPPPPP while one knew that one should BEEPPPPPPPP BEEPPPPPPPP ....and BEEPPPPPPPP is very important for BEEPPPPPPPP..."

Well I think you've caught my drift...there might be many more "BEEPPPPPPPPs" here than in a Jerry Springer show, but the fundamental difference is...instead of bad words, the above words concealed by "BEEPPPPPPPPs" are all loving, kind and caring words, ok?...(Hey! I could hear the snorts of disbelief. I am still BEEPPPPPPPP here, dammit!) would've been like...

Hmm, believe me, you don't wanna know. LOL! There were definitely some woks, an assortment of knives, peeler, can opener and other mean looking kitchen tools and appliances involved. It was wayyy more violent that Kill Bill volume I and II combined.

OK, I think that's enough violence for a day. Now, you guys probably think of me as a blood-thirsty-dirty mouthed maniac...which is kinda true, but at least I am a maniac who is partial to stinky food (wait a minute...this doesn't sound right...)

Having said's what I've used to cook yesterday:
Spicy Fermented Beancurd Sauce

Doesn't that look nasty? Wait 'til you see what's inside...

Hahaha...this might have put you off...but from that pile of disgusting looking goo, we produced this:
Beef & Taiwanese Lettuce (A Choy) in Spicy Fermented Beancurd Sauce

...which was absolutely heavenly! Creamy, tasty, and fragrant...absolutely perfect with steamed rice. I totally blew my plan to eat less and I proceeded to lick my bowl clean instead...mmm mmm mmm!

No one could be pissed with each other after this (a note to me: What's with the hard selling? This doesn't sound like are now dangerously close to handing out free samples in supermarkets)

- half pound of Taiwanese lettuce, wash and tear into 2-3 parts length-wise
- half pound of thinly sliced beef (I always get the nicely marbled ones)
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 cm ginger, crushed
- 2 red chilli, thinly sliced
- 4 blocks of spicy fermented beancurd sauce
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- olive oil

Saute garlic, ginger and chilli, add beef, stir until half cooked, add lettuce, cover wok and cook until wilted, add beancurd sauce, add sugar, mix well, serve

Tasting the bitterness of my medicine, now I have to tidy up the residual ruins from the battle...Quick! before developers start getting ideas and build post-war schools (correction: in case of Hong Kong, it'd more likely be 1001 storey office towers instead of schools) over my tiny flat...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

*The Canned Food Convenience - A Choy, Mushrooms, Tofu Puffs & Fried Dace in Black Beans

Have you ever stopped cooking for too
- forgot how to tear lettuce leaves
- couldn't differentiate sugar from salt, garlic from ginger (aw!)
- couldn't locate the bottle of soy sauce
- mistook sweet soy for dark soy
- placed the bottle of olive oil by the rubbish bin (if not in the rubbish bin)
- and found that opening a tin of fish could be as difficult as constructing a space shuttle?

My Sous Chef missed the kitchen soooo much. It's been such a long time since SC did anything in the kitchen other than:
- doing the dishes/instant noodles (such an angel!)...or...
- annoying whoever's cooking (such as: attempting to tickle you when you were: holding a huge and sharp kitchen knife; or holding a huge wok full of hot oil on a flaming stove; or balancing a tray of hot muffins fresh from the oven - these impractical-devilish-jokes are extremely dangerous, please do NOT even think about trying any of them)

Finally, here's SC's signature dish:
A Choy (Taiwanese Lettuce), Mushrooms, & Tofu Puffs
featuring Fried Dace with Salted Black Bean

If you're looking for something quick and easy, guaranteed to taste fan-bloody-tastic, a fool-proof-no-brainer and quite a healthy dinner, then this is gotta be it.

- half pound of
Taiwanese lettuce (A choy), you can replace this by romaine lettuce or any other veggie of your choice, but we love the crunch of A choy
- a large can of fried dace in salted/fermented black beans (try to find this in Asian supermarkets near you)
- a handful of tofu puffs (I quartered them, so they appeared and felt like a lot more than they really were HAHA!)
- a handful of mushrooms (SC used fresh oyster mushrooms, straw or white mushrooms would work too)
- you do not even need oil, as there's plenty of oil in the can of fish
- totally optional: red chilli for the spicy kick

Pour the can of fish into a hot saute pan, just get enough oil, discard the excess oil. Add the mushrooms, add the veggie, add the tofu puffs, mix well, cook the veggie to your liking...

and SC, remember to retrieve the olive oil bottle from the rubbish bin ^_^

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Oreo Pancakes - How Do You Eat Your Oreos?

I love Oreos. Especially dunked into a cup of hot milk, where they could melt away, just like in my previous Creamy Oreo Mocktail Shots post.

How do you eat your Oreos?
Do you..
- also dunk 'em into your glass of milk?
- dunk 'em into black coffee? milk tea? iced tea? soda? ice cream?
- twist and lick off the creamy white filling first?
- eat them over the sink ala Monica from Friends?
- only eat them at 12:00 on the dot midnight?
- turn Oreos into muffins? cupcakes? pudding?
- scatter Oreo crumbs and lick them off a special someone? (or vice versa - kinkyyyy)
- saute your Oreos with garlic and chilli? (I guess this is beyond kinky LOL)

Now..they've made Oreos with:
- thicker, double, lighter or sugar free white part
- peanut butter
- strawberry filling
- peanut butter chocolate

They have also made Oreo...
- wafer sticks
- wafer rolls
- cereals

But, I just wish they would make ones WITHOUT the sweet white center. I wonder who's with I just weird for not loving to lick the sweet and creamy center? I am now contemplating to start a petition in facebook hehe...

You could imagine how happy I was when I saw this...

It's a packet of Oreo powder!! Woohoo, I got this from Cake1Cake, a cake supply shop/school in Mong Kok. How cool is thatttt?! I snatched a pack in no time (i.e. after visiting the shop more than 3 times and dreamt about it day and night for a few days)...and thought of what to do with it.

After careful consideration...(do I make Oreo cupcakes, oreo muffins, oreo pudding?)...I woke up one morning and decided to make...
Oreo pancakes
- 1 cup self raising flour (sifted)
- 4 tbsp caster sugar
- 4 tbsp Oreo powder (you can adjust according to your taste)
- half teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup of peanut oil (or you can use melted butter)

Mix flour, sugar, Oreo powder and salt in 1 mixing bowl. Mix milk, vanilla essence, egg, and oil in another bowl. Make a well in the middle of flour mix and add the liquid, mix well. Your pancake mix is done. Heat up a small non stick fry pan, pour a small amount of the pancake mix and pan fry until you see bubbles, flip it, and serve. We had these bad boys with a bit of butter, sweet condensed milk & chocolate syrup (what a sinful breakfast!!!)

I think you'll be able to replace Oreo powder by crushing some Oreos....and vent all that frustration away ^_^

Now share some Oreo kinkiness with me, will ya?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Spicy Watercress in Shrimp Paste

Why did I choose watercress? Look at them! They are oh so cuteee! That's before I cooked them and transform them into a pile of.......(feel free to fill in the blank), and the picture I took above and below didn't do them justice ^_^

So they were superficially selected, purely based on how they look. Yeah, I am shallow. Big deal. I figured, well, they are vegetables, and they are so green, there are bound to be lots of goodness in them.

I dug a little deeper and I was right. There are so many good things found in watercress for each and every part of our body. Before I ruined them by stir frying in high heat and added lots of belacan (shrimp paste) *grin* ....but what the tasted fun-bloody-tastic and I hope there was still some badly needed goodness left in them for me

Spicy Watercress in Shrimp Paste (Belacan)

- half Chinese pound watercress, wash and chop into 2-3 parts length-wise
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 small red chilli, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp shrimp paste
- olive oil
- hot water
- pepper and sugar

Saute garlic, shallot and chilli in hot olive oil, add watercress, add shrimp paste, pepper, sugar, add hot water if you want it with a bit of sauce

Submitting this for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Astrid from Paulchen's Food Blog?!

So, I guess it's ok to be shallow and superficial sometimes (applicable to vegetable selection, do not apply the same principals when choosing friends) LOL