Choosing the restaurant and cuisine for a reunion dinner depends very much on the circle of friends you are going to meet.
Coming from the lower middle class, I see to it that I get every penny’s worth. And so I always come up with value-for-money options and try to convince my friends to take my advice.
That’s easier said than done. But fortunately, since I write a regular food column for the Hong Kong Economic Journal, I have earned some reputation as a dining expert, at least among my good old friends.
In the latest dinner, everyone agreed to have daa laang (打冷) – a feast of hot and cold Chiuchow dishes.
Soon our WhatsApp group was flooded with requests for marinated goose slices (滷水鵝片), marinated cuttlefish and red sausage slices (墨魚紅腸), marinated pork intestines (滷水大腸), stir-fried mini clams (蜆仔肉), pig blood curd with Chinese chives (韭菜豬紅) and baby oyster congee (蠔仔肉碎粥).
I was rather unimpressed with these mundane suggestions, which could have been easily satisfied by visiting any one of the Chiuchow food stalls in the city.
Why did we have to arrange a special dinner in the first place? Anyway, I kept my mouth shut and waited for more suggestions from like-minded buddies.
“I want Chiuchow smoked duck (潮州熏鴨), chilled crab (凍蟹) and extremely spicy pig’s stomach with white pepper soup (胡椒豬肚湯). Best to have marinated raw blood clams as well!”
Finally I heard some dishes that were worth looking forward to.
It has been a year or so since I had Chiuchow smoked duck. Smoked by sugarcane, the duck would be infused with the faint sweet fragrance and taste of cane sugar.
This dish is best accompanied by a glass of whiskey.
Usually the smoked ducks available in Hong Kong are genuinely delicious, having been directly imported from the Chaozhou and Shantou regions.
I have tried the dish a few times at Tak Lee Chiu Chow Restaurant in Western District.
Marinated raw blood clams could be bought from Yuen Hop (元合), a Chiuchow grocery in Kowloon City, and they are of satisfactory quality.
But the best ones I have tried so far are the marinated raw crabs and blood clams from Fuyuan (富苑) Restaurant in Shantou in Guangdong. The taste is so supreme I could go on consuming one after another non-stop.
As for the order of pig’s stomach with white pepper soup, I think I could understand what kind of spiciness my friend was asking for.
Some time ago, at Jim Jim Restaurant in Bangkok, I had two bowls of it, and my eyes brimmed with tears.
Speaking of chilled crab, I think it would be best to prepare it myself. Going downtown to the wet market of Kowloon City, I could secure two or three catties of the crustacean for about HK$800 or HK$1,000.
Keeping the crab in the freezer for 20 minutes would be enough to knock it off. Then steam it over boiling water using a steamer rack to preserve its integrity without breaking its legs as it would struggle in the wok.
After that, set it aside and it becomes chilled crab naturally.
I think my friends will appreciate my efforts in delivering them a mouth-watering homemade chilled crab.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 20.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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