Recipe Category: Issue 196

Recipe

HAKKA SALT-BAKED CHICKEN

A signature dish of the Hakka people, salt-baked chicken frequently appears on restaurant menus in Hong Kong. Traditionally wrapped in salt and baked in a pit until the chicken takes on the distinctive, smoky-salty nuances, this dish is sensational when made properly. Sadly, nowadays most cooks take short cuts and poach or steam a brined chicken, thereby losing the soul of this magnificent dish. It’s actually quite an easy recipe, though you might have to seek out sand ginger in an Asian supermarket. If you can’t find it, just leave it out – it will be fine. If you visit Hong Kong, try it at Chuen Cheung Kui in Mong Kok.

Recipe

SICHUAN DRY-FRIED GREEN BEANS

This popular dish from Sichuan province pops up frequently in restaurants such as the legendary Da Ping Huo in Central, and Sijie Sichuan in Wan Chai. Dry-fried green beans is an addictive dish if you love hot and numbing flavours. Traditionally the beans are fried in very little oil until they blister and wrinkle and take on a smoky flavour. Nowadays many cooks deep-fry the beans to speed up the process. In most homes, minced pork is used, but minced beef and chicken work beautifully, too. This is an easy dish to make and, from experience, it’s marvellous with a bowl of congee.

Recipe

CANTONESE CLAYPOT RICE

This one-pot meal is one of my favourite dishes when the weather turns cold. Traditionally, chicken, lap cheong sausage and shiitake mushrooms are the usual suspects for flavouring the rice, but I’ve also had this with goose-liver sausage, frogs’ legs and salted fish. The best claypot rice I’ve eaten was at the very old-school Kwan Kee in the Western District of Hong Kong Island. This recipe is Cantonese in origin, but there are several versions of this popular dish. Should you use a Chinese claypot, a good trick is to drizzle 1⁄2 tablespoon of oil around the side of the pot after the rice is just cooked so it forms a firmer crust.

Recipe

CHILLI OIL

Chilli oil is an essential ingredient in many Chinese regional cooking styles. One of the most popular brands in Hong Kong is Koon Yick Wah Kee; it’s readily available in most Asian shops, although I prefer to make my own. Chilli oil is made with dried chillies and it’s not difficult to prepare, but dried chillies burn easily so never cook them over high heat – once they’re burnt, you have to start all over again. Just be patient and you’ll be amply rewarded. I’ve used Sichuan dried chillies for this recipe. If you prefer a hotter chilli oil, combine them with dried bird’s eye chillies or dried habaneros. Make sure you have your windows open or rangehood on, or the chilli fumes will make you cough.

Recipe

WONTONS WITH RED CHILLI OIL

I adore Cantonese wontons in soups, but every once in a while I get a craving for Sichuan’s spicy wontons. Called hong you chao shou in Mandarin, these delicious dumplings are pretty common in Sichuan province but less so in Hong Kong. They’re a cinch to make and the accompanying hot sauce with toasty chilli takes these morsels to another level.

*Click here for the chilli oil with sediment recipe

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