A Taste of Hong Kong

Being lucky enough to take a month off work to travel, I decided that Hong Kong was an ideal first destination. With a strong western culture, I felt that it would be an easy transition (ie – not a huge culture shock) coming straight from Melbourne. And what a beautiful place it was! The busy streets provided excitement and character to the famous city, with alternative tranquil gardens to duck into if it ever got a bit much.

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After spending weeks researching Hong Kong’s foodie life, I was pretty excited to experience it for myself. If you’re a fan of seafood, then Hong Kong is the perfect place to indulge with little cost compared to some places in mainland China. If you have enough time to visit the Fisherman’s village, you will be spoilt for choice. With snacks like barbecued squid and cheese grilled shrimp provided in small stalls all around the village, you can try a number of seafood snacks without burning a hole in your pocket.

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Another top destination in Hong Kong are the Temple Street Night Markets. This was my favourite place to get dinner, I loved the fact that they cooked the food in the seating area. It was so entertaining to watch, plus you knew the food was getting cooked to order, rather than sitting around for hours. The best places aren’t restaurants as such, but as you walk down the market streets you will come across Dai Pai Dongs, which are the bustling street food stalls located throughout Hong Kong. The English is very limited, so it will just be a case of pointing to what you want and hoping for the best. Most places will have English menus, particularly in popular areas (like Temple Street Market). One of the evenings here a friend and I ordered a large crab with chilli and garlic, along with noodles and giant local beers. The crab was the main expense of our meal, but it still only came to about $10 AUD each.

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Another great food experience are the street food stalls dotted around the city. While the freshness of the produce would be questionable, the price and convenience would make up for it. Some great local snacks could be found here including seafood sticks and Egg Waffles, a dessert snack which looks like bubble wrap and tastes awesome. Unfortunately the waffles were eaten before a photo could be taken…

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A great recommendation for Dim Sum would be DimDimSum Dim Sum Specialty Store (bit of a mouthful I know). It’s an easily accessible restaurant not far from the Jordan MTR station. An English menu was provided, and they served loads of great local dishes, including my favourites, the BBQ pork buns and tora cakes. A cute dish for those with a sweet tooth and an eye for presentation would be the Piggy Custard buns! Be aware of the tea charge though, it is normal in local restaurants to provide tea when you sit down and later add it to the bill. Tea is not free, simply ask for the tea to be removed if you don’t want to drink it.

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Chicken, Prawn and Chorizo Paella

After looking up a few recipes to find inspiration for the perfect paella, I was so excited to make mine. It was so easy to make, all the flavours went together really well and there was minimal washing up! If you’re not a fan of prawns you can leave it out and just have the chicken and chorizo, but I found it was best to have all three. All you need for a sophisticated looking dinner!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Chicken breast
  • 2 Chorizo sausages
  • ¼ Kilo prawns, de veined, tail on (optional)
  • 1-1/2 Cup Aborio rice
  • 1-2 Cups chicken stock
  • 1 Red pepper
  • 3 Tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 2 Garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 Tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ Tsp turmeric
  • ¼ Lemon
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Serves: 3

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Cook the rice as package instructs. Use boiled chicken stock instead of water. Bring to boil.

Dice up the meat and veg. Dice the chorizo diagonally – I found it was better to cook the chorizo prior to cutting as it helped keep the shape.

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Heat up the oil in the pan on medium heat and add the chicken, leaving the shrimp for now as it takes less time to cook.

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Add the red pepper and cover for about 4 mins.

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Uncover and add the onion, garlic and prawns, cooking until the prawns turn red.

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Add the spices along with basil and already cooked chorizo. Turn the heat down to low when done, to keep the contents warm.

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Drain the rice once cooked, add to the pan and mix well, making sure it’s evenly coated. Juicy paella is a lot tastier than dry paella so if you want you can add some of the leftover chicken stock.

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Transfer to plate, adding a slice of lemon. Cover any leftovers as soon as you can so it doesn’t dry out. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Easy Arancini Balls

So today I had lots of leftover rice so decided to create some amazing arancini balls! These were delicious and so easy to make.. The perfect entrée and yummy snack!

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Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cooked sushi rice
6-8 cubes mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan
3 eggs
1-2 cups bread crumbs
3 tbsp chopped basil
1/2 cup peas
1-2 cups flour
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
Marinara sauce for dipping (optional)

Serves: 6-8

In a saucepan or rice cooker (I used rice cooker) cook the rice as package instructs. Leave to cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

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In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice, peas, basil, parmesan, one egg and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix this together until evenly incorporated.

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Keep a bowl of water next to you, you’ll need to keep your hands damp or the rice will stick to you. Cup a small handful of the mixture and push a cube of mozzarella into the centre. Pat some more rice onto the top and squeeze your hands together as if you’re making a snowball. Repeat this process with all patties and place on a baking sheet.

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Set up your workstation with a remaining eggs, whisked, flour and breadcrumbs. First, roll the rice ball in the flour. Dip into the egg mix, and roll in the breadcrumbs. The egg holds the breadcrumbs in place. Finish preparing each ball and return to baking sheet.

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Heat up the oil over medium high heat for a few minutes. To test heat, drop a crumb into the oil. If it sizzles, you’re good to go.

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Cook each ball for 2-3 minutes. Remove each ball with a slotted spoon and dry on paper towel before transferring to a plate. Serve these with marinara sauce and enjoy!

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Homemade Steak and Guinness Pie

So this week I bought a slow cooker and I was dying to use it! I thought I’d try my own recipe for a traditional homemade pies.
These pies were soo good, although I did cheat and buy ready made puff pastry! I definitely recommend using a dark ale for steak pie as it helps bring out the flavour. If you don’t have a slow cooker you can just keep it covered on the stove for about an hour and a half on low heat. It was definitely a hit with my housemates!
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Ingredients:
1/2 kilo diced rump steak
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
1 onion
2 handfuls chopped mushrooms
100ml Guinness
Puff pastry
1 Tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp flour
1 cup beef broth
1 egg
Salt & pepper
2/3 tbsp olive oil
Serves: 4
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Start by cutting up the steak into smallish pieces. Add a generous amount of pepper, about a tbsp, salt and olive oil. Mix together and add to the pan on medium high heat.
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In a separate pan, add remaining olive oil and combine rosemary, onions and mushrooms. Leave to cook for 5-10 mins or until done, stirring occasionally.
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Come back to the steak which should be nice and dark by now. Add the flour to thicken it up, added by some tomato purée. Mix together and put in slow cooker.
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Finish the veg and add to the steak. Mix it all up and add the Guinness and beef broth. You can add a little bit of water too if you like. Add lid and cook on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
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By now your whole kitchen should smell of the stew! Roll out your pastry and press gently into your pie dishes. Add about 2/3 large spoonfuls (depending on your pie dish size) of stew. Whisk up your egg to use as egg wash and brush around the sides of the pastry to allow it to stick together.
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Use a fork to press the lid down together and brush another layer of egg wash on top. Using a knife, cut a small criss cross in the middle to allow the steam out.
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Bake on 180 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. Serve with mash and peas and enjoy!
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Grilled Steak with Onion and Blue Cheese Sauce

Grilled Steak with Onion and Blue Cheese Sauce

Even if you’re not a fan of blue cheese you should definitely try this sauce! It’s absolutely divine – it’s the ONLY sauce I will have with my steaks from now on! The perfect comfort food and incredibly filling, you probably won’t need any sides but if you’re really hungry then roast veggies would be a great add on. Garlic sauce, move aside.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup of cream
Steak cut of your choice
1 medium onion
1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp unsalted butter

Method:

Dice up your onion and season the steak with salt and pepper.

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Heat up a small frying pan, medium high heat and melt 1 tbsp butter. Cook the onions until brown.

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Add the cream and stir it in. You’ll see the cream pick up a brown tint from the onions.

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Leave for about 2-3 minutes, during this time you can grill the steak.

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Just as the steak finishes, add the blue cheese to the sauce and stir in, allowing it to melt into the cream.

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Tip onto a plate and place the steak on top, letting it sit amongst the sauce. Serve, and enjoy!

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Pear, Fig, Prosciutto, Rocket and Blue Cheese Salad

Pear, Fig, Prosciutto, Rocket and Blue Cheese Salad.

Tonight I wanted to try a different kind of healthy dinner to my usual salad. While I’m a typical lover of the classic Chicken Caesar salad, this variation was a really delicious alternative! It was also surprisingly filling!

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Ingredients:
2 figs, quartered
1 pear, sliced
4 slices of prosciutto
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Bed of rocket

Serves: 1

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I considered adding hollandaise sauce as a dressing but decided that I didn’t want to drown out the blue cheese as I’d already added a generous amount!

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This was the perfect lunch snack as it was really filling and tasty. I absolutely love blue cheese and figs so this was a bit of a treat for me! I purchased all my ingredients from Victoria Market, the blue cheese was from my favourite cheese counter Tina’s Gourmet Cheese Deli.

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DOC Pizza & Mozzarella Bar 

Saturday night and a craving for dining out brought Roya and I to DOC Pizza & Mozzarella Bar. Now, living in a city with hundreds, possibly thousands of places to eat, I never go to the same restaurant twice. However, I’ve already made arrangements to visit DOC Pizza again! It was possibly the best meal I’ve ever had since arriving in Melbourne a year ago. With award winning pizza, authentic menu and tasty wine, DOC Pizza is Melbourne’s ultimate Italian experience.

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Admittedly, I was initially reluctant to go to a restaurant that was restricted to pizza only for the mains, as I felt that I can easily make a decent pizza at home, but this was definitely something else. Completely off the scale dining experience!

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Upon arriving at about 8pm on a busy Saturday night, we joined the queue of about ten-fifteen other hungry diners waiting to eat (they don’t take bookings for two people). We were politely asked to wait outside and the friendly waiter gave us each a complimentary glass of prosecco to sip at while we were waiting for our table.

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By the time we were seated at our table we were pretty starving and eager to order. Looking around, the interior was pretty neat and simple, allowing the main focus to lie completely with the menu.

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To start with we ordered the Antipasto Platter to share, a daily assortment of Classic Italian ingredients. We were greeted with bread sticks, mozzarella, prosciutto ham, melon, Gorgonzola, artichoke hearts, pickled onions, olives in breadcrumb and cheddar.

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Excited for our main, we waited a while after finishing our starter. Appreciating the fact it was a busy night, we ordered some Chardonnay for the table to ‘sip’ while we waited.

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The mains were worth the wait! I had ordered  the Pizza San Daniele and it was beautiful. Italian pizza base with San Marzano tomatoes, DOC Buffalo Mozzarella and San Daniele Prosciutto. The taste combination was amazing, my only criticism being that the water from the mozzarella made the pizza base a little watery.

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Roya ordered the Pizza Tiger Prawns with tomato, mozzarella, endive and fresh chilli. An enticing seafood pizza with a spicy twist.

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By the time we had finished we were stuffed, however we were tempted into the Sweet Pizza dessert which was definitely the highlight of the meal. It was actually gorgeous. It came with Belgian white chocolate, fresh strawberries and vanilla bean ice cream. I’m not much of a dessert person but I’m definitely ordering this again next time I visit.

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So the famous DOC Pizza & Mozzarella Bar definitely lived up to the standard and expectation it had earned. Upon learning that they have actually branched out into other restaurants in the city specialising in pasta, I am looking forward trying their fantastic dishes again.

*Disclosure: we received complimentary drinks and dessert but this has not affected my review of the restaurant. All views are my own.