Hong Kong style: Hong Kongese spicy fried noodles

Hong Kong is another ‘is it really a country?’ country. Wikipedia tells us that it’s an autonomous territory, just like Macau, which essentially means it’s part of China whilst also standing on its own. This was exemplified perfectly when Miranda asked a Hong Kongese student whether there were any dishes specific to Hong Kong. With an expression that was a mix of bewilderment and panic, he said, ‘Um… they just have Chinese restaurants.’

That avenue well and truly exhausted, our next step was to turn to Google for a Hong Kongese dish, but the World Wide Web pretty much gave us the same answer: Hong Kong cuisine is mainly influenced by Cantonese cuisine, and there really isn’t much to distinguish between the two. The only food we could associate with Hong Kong was the luminescent deep fried balls of unidentifiable meat you get from the takeaway, and we didn’t want that. We could have made fish balls, which seem to be a popular Hong Kong street food, but pounding white fish into a paste didn’t especially appeal to us, so in the end we settled for spicy fried noodles as inspired by Cookpad (we played with the quantities a bit). Honestly, we really couldn’t tell you whether this is even close to ‘authentic’ Hong Kongese, but there were very few options and it seemed along the right lines… Continue reading

Back to Asia: Macanese minchi

Our most recent cooking adventure, seloseb, was described by a friend as ‘congealed milk custard.’ Fortunately, it tasted considerably better than it sounded. We were nonetheless pleased to bid farewell to the Pacific Islands region and head back into South-East Asia: specifically, Macau.

Macau starts us off on a short journey of ‘Are they actually countries?’ countries. Macau is a ‘special administrative region’, which means it’s an autonomous territory of China, and also a city, but isn’t actually part of mainland China, and was actually once ruled by the Portuguese… which, frankly, is all too confusing, so we decided to just include it on our list of countries: in for a penny, in for a pound, and all that. Ash’s interest in the country has always lain primarily in the fact that it hosts the world’s highest bungee jump, but last week its cuisine became just as important. Many of the local dishes have been strongly influenced by Portuguese traditions, but we suppressed the temptation to make a huge batch of pasteis de nata and instead opted for minchi, considered to be Macau’s national dish. Apparently, and likely due to the dish’s key ingredient, the name derives from the English word ‘minced’. Continue reading

Edible against all odds: Palauan seboseb

Here we are, folks: Palau, our last Pacific Island! It’s been a long, sometimes tedious, often coconut-flavoured journey, but we’ve made it to the end. Our next culinary steps will take us back into Asia, and we’re looking forward to the new tastes we’ll find there.

But before moving forward, we must first look back, to the Palauan seboseb Miranda made the other day. Unlike most of our other island recipes, seboseb contains no coconut, no meat and no vegetables. It’s also one of the rare desserts traditional to this part of the world. It was nearly impossible to find a traditional Palauan recipe, and the process involved Miranda spending a lot of time on the sofa with an iPad and a blanket while Ash continued trying to beautify our kitchen: hard work for all involved. The fact that Afghanistan’s national dish is called ‘qabili palau’ didn’t help the search either. Steering well clear of any mention of fruit bat soup and trying to avoid too much coconut, Miranda eventually found the seboseb recipe on a website all about Palau. Ostensibly some sort of milk jelly, it didn’t look all that appetising (see scary-looking purple substance below), and didn’t sound all that appetising (see ingredients below) but being pretty much the only recipe we had, it was worth a try. It shouldn’t have worked, but somehow it did… Continue reading