Anyone who remembers HK Magazine,which ceased publication in October 2016, will recognise Adele Wong’s byline. The former dining columnist writes that this book is a way of reconnecting with her roots, having moved to Canada when she was young, then returning to Hong Kong a decade or so ago.
“These pages in front of you are my attempt at rediscovering a heritage that I hadn’t really lost, but at the same time never had a chance to fully grasp while growing up abroad. And what better way to learn about Hong Kong than through its rich culinary offerings?” she says.
“The story of Hong Kong can be found in humble cha chaan teng restaurants, old-school dim sum houses, colourful wet markets, classic herbal tea shops. It’s told by local butchers, street food hawkers, third-generation noodle-makers continuing their grandparents’ legacy.”
To tell the story of Hong Kong cuisine, she visits these butchers, hawkers and noodle makers, as well as rice purveyors and producers of soy sauce, shrimp paste and oyster sauce. She explains the types of places where one can go to get a meal, from the humble dai pai dong, cha chaan teng and bing sutt (“ice room”) to banquet rooms and fine-dining restaurants, and talks to the people who run some of these establishments.
And, of course, she takes us onto the street to introduce the reader to the rapidly dwindling ranks of hawkers who sell snacks such as gai dan jai, roast chestnuts and dragon’s beard candy. Other subjects include dining etiquette, traditional Chinese medicine and celebratory foods.
The recipes in the book are for home cooks; even the items you would normally leave to specialists (such as char siu) are adapted so they don’t require special equipment. Other recipes include stir-fried gai lan with ginger juice; ketchup prawns; pan-fried three treasures; stir-fried beef with garlic shoots; and double-boiled papaya and snow fungus sweet soup.