Friday, December 25, 2009

Peking Duck, two ways (Updated)

Here's a short video of the fastest carver in Hong Kong!

Peking Duck is one of my favorite dishes of all time and for many reasons. My husband and I joke that if we ever win the lottery, we'd jet to Hong Kong and take my mom out for a bang up Peking Duck. So, on my recent trip to Hong Kong, I made sure I squeezed this in to satisfy my craving. I've not had the traditional Peking Duck since my last trip there 15 yrs. ago when my dad took the whole family out for a HUGE feast, complete with a fruit compote extravaganza in a dry ice display. We'll never forget that meal, the dishes kept coming.

The traditional way of serving Peking Duck is to bring it whole to your table and carve it infront of you. I videotaped her carving, I was so impressed.
The crispy skin with a little of the meat is laid out for you to roll in very thin pancakes, slathered with hoisin sauce, scallions and fresh cucumber strips.

They'll take the duck away and bring back a dish of the duck meat fried with some veggies. Last, they bring the soup made from the carcass, delish. I love this whole ritual, nothing goes to waste. It's what I do with a roast chicken.

Because it's quite expensive to eat it at a restaurant, I searched on the internet for an easy Peking Duck recipe to cook at home. There are many different marinades and techniques used to get that crispy skin which is what makes a good Peking Duck.

These recipes sound easy until you start doing it yourself, the process is grueling. I've been there, done it and I swore I'd never attempt it again. When I lived in Key West, my sisters and I tried a few times to master the technique of getting the skin crispy by using a bicycle pump to separate the skin from the flesh! We took turns to pump as well as hang infront of a fan to get the skin dry! After spending 2 days prepping and finally roasting it and then to find the ducks were tough, old and chewy really made us mad.

Well, I found a fabulous solution from a very smart blogger, Hungry Kittens in Australia for making Peking Duck at home! Wow, the best lightbulb moment I've had in a while. This reflects my whole philosophy of not spending time to make complicated dishes, I've even posted this topic, keep cooking simple and tasty.

Or better yet, you can now edit a "Peking Duck" post and also see more recipes on Foodista, a online cooking encyclopedia that everyone can edit.

Well, another food blogger, The Good Sandwich decided to make Peking Duck for New Year's Eve, here's her amazing first attempt, I wish I lived a bit closer to her.

If you REALLY want to make Peking Duck from scratch, Andrea Nguyen's Peking Duck Meal at Home gives a fantastic step-by-step. Not for the timid.

I had to add this hilarious story about an opera singer's wife who cooked Peking Duck after each performance no matter which country or rental apartment as long as it has knobs, find out what I mean!

Anyhow, I wanted to share the rest of the dishes we had with the Peking Duck at this very good restaurant, Festive China. This was some classy restaurant, I wish we had some in Miami, it's kind of embarrassing that we either have very upscale or lowend and nothing in between! I loved everything about this restaurant.

Here's their beautiful menu design - front and back:

They put a cover over your chair if you have a jacket on it to prevent food splatters.
And while you're eating, as if it's not occupying all of your senses, they even have a flat screen TV so you can follow your favorite soap opera, ha, ha!
We were invited by my mother's friend who told me I could order anything I wanted. I only wanted Peking Duck and didn't realize he was going to order all these other dishes, I felt guilty for ordering such an expensive dish. We had a ton of leftovers to take home and had another full meal (I'll post separately).

We started with this lovely appetizer of crunchy peanuts, endamame and toufu.
Notice the beautiful porcelain serving platters, our teacups had gold plated lids!

Appetizer 2: Shanghainese soup dumplings which squirt when you bite into them, delish.

Appetizer 3: bean curd skin rolls filled with turnip, carrots and vegetarian fare.

Appetizer 4: fish made to look like roast pork (Chinese char siu), not my favorite but interesting texture.

Next, very tender stewed Chinese cabbage with cured ham.
A platter of plain steamed shrimp, very sweet tasting.

Ending with a dessert of crepes filled with red bean paste.
The Peking Duck was totally memorable and now I can have it at home for about $20!
I'll let you know if I'm successful, don't forget to read about Hungry Kittens' great idea.

Festive China is in Festival Walk which is practically across the street from my mother's apartment,
so it was very convenient.
We also had dinner at a lovely Vietnamese Restaurant, Rice Paper which I'll share in another post. The mall was designed by Architectonica, a Miami firm that my husband and I had as guests on our TV show we produced over 15 years ago on Miami Beach.
My niece, Melissa and my mom.

A wonderful bookstore and cafe, PageOne right next to Festive China. I wish we had more stores like this here.
They already had their Christmas decorations and tree up when I was there!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! I made a goal to post this by Christmas and I did it, yay.

Tell us your Peking Duck story.

If you like travel and food, you'll also enjoy:
Hong Kong Fast Food

Hong Kong Gifts for Wok Star Wannabes

Penang Food Stalls

Penang, Yin and Yang (Updated)

Peking Duck on FoodistaPeking Duck

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving with Asian Twist

Spicy, hoisin turkey, stir fried brussel sprouts, endamame, Chinese mushrooms, red bell and stuffing with cranberries and turkey gravy.

I kept getting asked if I was going to 'wok' my turkey. No, but I did give our Thanksgiving an Asian Twist this year! We had a cozy dinner for two and my game plan went smoothly! We watched "Survivor, Samoa" cause I was in Hong Kong and missed two episodes.

Well, Thanksgiving needs to be traditional cause we only have it once a year! I mentioned to Ralph that we'd just have roast potatoes and not bother with stuffing (the one I got was full of bad stuff incl. MSG, I'm taking it back!) His retort, "Thanksgiving is nothing without stuffing!" kind of made me guilty. So, I ran out to Wholefoods, thank goodness they were open, very smart! They even had all prepared sides and was not that busy.

I picked up pecan pie, stuffing, real turkey gravy, very rich but very delicious (I did see hydrolyzed soybean on the list though but heck, it's only once a year and now I have the organic stuffing with no MSG.)

So, for lunch, we had a small salad with grilled salmon and a couple of garlic crostinis with goat cheese.

Here's how I marinaded some gigantic turkey thighs, I only used three ingredients which I constantly use and love. That's why they're included in my Wok Star Kit! Koon Chun hoisin sauce, San-J's tamari, Lingham's chili sauce (you can get it at Epicure Market in Sunny Isles and South Beach and in Fort Lauderdale, The Grateful Palate who has hosted a couple of my classes). Take thighs (we like dark meat, more juicy) out of fridge an hour before cooking and marinade about 15 mins. prior to cooking. I don't marinade overnight, not necessary but you can if you want. Ratio is 2 hoisin, 1 chili, 1 tamari. You can use any leftover sauce to marinade more meat or even toufu, I never waste anything.

Mid afternoon: I rehydrated some Chinese mushrooms, prepped Brussel sprouts by parboiling and dunking in ice bath to keep them green. Defrosted some endamame (soy beans). Chopped some garlic and ginger, scallions and half a red bell pepper for the stir fry.

The Wholefoods stuffing had cranberries, so it was perfect, I've never liked cranberry sauce, way too sweet. Packet instructions were easy: add to boiling water but instead of 6 tablespoons of butter, I used canola oil. We don't need extra calories and cholesterol with everything else in this meal.

Just a little light appetizer: more garlic crostini with goat cheese and a dab of mango chutney. I've only just started buying goat cheese and am in love with it. It's so light and fluffy and has so much less fat.

When it was time for dinner, I grilled the thighs and stir fried the veggies with a dash of tamari, sherry and lime juice to taste. You can find out more about this "mix and match" technique so your weeknight dinners are quick and easy! This is what being a Wok Star is all about!

I heated the gravy in a saucepan and warmed the stuffing in the microwave. When the stuffing was warmed, I stuck it under the broiler to crisp up.

I took the skins off the thighs, much easier after they're cooked. Slathered marinade from the baking tray on the newly skinned thighs to give them flavor, color and crispy texture. Thanksgiving with an Asian Twist is READY!

Did you give your Thanksgiving an ethnic slant? I would love to hear about it.

For dessert, I had bought Granny Smith apples and frozen pastry but Wholefood's small pecan pie looked perfect. The crust was a bit disappointing but still satisfied, well, anything with ice cream is good, right?

More on turkey:
Ralph and I love turkey in any shape or form. I use a LOT of ground turkey, it's in my Rainbow Lettuce Wrap appetizer which goes well with Gancia Prosecco and Tiger Beer which I serve in my Wok Star cooking class.

It's also featured in my Ho Wok Mei DVD, here's the "recipe" on my website to try out. I use turkey instead of ground pork (not always available and much fattier) to make Asian Meatloaf (steamed, delicious, fast and easy), curry and Italian meat sauce, the list goes on and on...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hong Kong Gifts for Wok Star Wannabes

One of the best things about visiting Hong Kong apart from seeing my mom of course is picking up great gifts for Wok Star Wannabes and friends.

While I want street vendors to make money since their merchandize are so cheap already, I didn't appreciate them treating me like a 'tourist'! I know my Chinese vocabulary and accent is not up to par (I took French and also left Hong Kong when I was 13 and went to boarding school in England) but jacking prices up 6 times just doesn't sit well with me.

Children especially love eating with chopsticks. It makes eating Asian food so much more fun, exotic and enjoyable. I think these colorful chopsticks with brocade holders are a bit over the top with too much design but everyone loves getting them.

These cute baby Chinese New Year calendars were so adorable, I just had to grab a few.
Both chopsticks and calendars will make great door prizes in my Wok Star classes.

Here are a variety of beautiful Chinese New Year "red packets" handed out by banks and businesses. I wrote about this ritual in two Chinese New Year of Ox and Rat posts. As kids, we never got to keep our red packets with money cause my parents used to take ours to "regift"!
When you open my Wok Star Kit, you're greeted with this lovely red packet holding a little buddha inside. Giving it's tummy a rub a day will bring you luck!

I didn't have success finding materials for my wok mitts this time but hopefully can pick them up locally.

HK Gifts for friends etc.
I can never resist getting these covers which can transform your generic tissue box into a gorgeous Asian one in a jiffy. I am so dying to "market" these on my website, I know you'll love them as much as I do. It's such a great gift idea for any occasion.

These little brocade bags are great for your makeup or just about any little knick knack. I'm not sure I want to part with any of them.

This lovely evening bag goes really well with my padded lightweight coat I got on my last trip.

More unusual bag and glass case or cell phone holder.

Tiny samplers of Chinese teas are also great gifts. I separate these out and only give one tin out at a time.

My husband loves to snack on Sunflower seeds in their shells (I hate them messing up the car.) I got this because the packaging was so intriguing, umm, wonder what kind of "spiced".

The ultimate, luxurious brocade toothpick holder with mirror. It was so cute, I had to have one.

Bet Louis Vuitton will want this monogrammed like they did with the rosewood chopsticks and holder for something like $499. They looked exactly like the same ones I got in Penang (well, without the monogram but at a price, I can do it, ha, ha)!

Take a look at this beautiful blog all about Chinoiserie Chic to see the LV box with chopsticks, not to be missed.

Do check back for lots more from my Hong Kong trip, next one Peking Duck, my all time favorite dish!
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