For those who do a bit of light food reading, you probably have heard of the beer cooler (esky) solution in which an esky is used for the water bath (apparently it does a great job at keeping water temperature stable) and ziploc bags for sous vide bags (it doesn’t quite make a vacuum, but is close enough to do the job). Unfortunately, recounts of coolers looking misshapen after such experiments as well as official statements from the Ziploc bag company clarifying that their bags were not for use in high temperature environments scared me away, despite how genius it did sound.
Instead, I formulated my own solution, using sealable oven bags (designed for high temperature environments) to place the steaks in. It worked particularly well as the thin plastic seemed to stick to itself quite well, thus making its own ‘psuedo-vacuum’ if I may. For the warm water bath, I had a thermal cooker on hand, which is like a giant thermos.
Although I’ve visited Hong Kong numerous times through the years, I have rarely set foot on one of their many islands. Both because I’m not a huge fan of boat as a mode of transport, and also because the one time I do remember visiting an island (Lamma island), it consisted of countless hours of tiresome walking up and down hills. I wasn’t really too keen on visiting another island until a couple of TV shows and stories from relatives who visited convinced us that there was plenty of good food and fun to be had at Cheung Chau, so we decided to make a day trip of it!
It always amazes me how convenient transport in HK is. Getting to Cheung Chau is simple- take a train ride to Central, short walk to the pier and then a half to an hour’s ferry ride depending on which type you catch. The total trip takes less than the time it takes for me to get to uni, and costs around half as much as well. Oh Sydney transport…how I dislike you!
The difference between the city and the islands is quite noticeable from the moment you leave the pier. It’s a much more relaxed atmosphere, much less noise and much less crowds. Unfortunately, I can’t say that the locals are too friendly, with an old lady screaming at us to move out of her way (who, might I add, was actually some 50m away from us) when we stopped to take a picture and the constant speeding of small trucks through the shared road without much warning than a hostile beep when you got too close. The shopkeepers were much more pleasant though!
First things first- we needed breakfast!
Although the main road was filled with plenty of dining options, there was nothing we really felt like having for breakfast, so we wandered off to alley behind, running parallel to the main road which had a surprisingly large number of interesting options. We stopped by this old-style restaurant for some yum-cha, and were disappointed to find that it was packed, but luckily, there was additional seating in the adjacent cafe, which was run by the same owners.
As they didn’t have har gow, we chose the chive dumplings instead, which were also quite enjoyable- generously sized dumplings with a soft, bouncy skin.
In addition to the yum cha classics, they also offer some old-school yum cha dishes which don’t seem to be around much nowadays. These are what I like to call the ‘reverse’ sui mai- a small ball of glutinous fried rice, covered in the sui mai wrapping. Sort of like bite sized Lo mai gai (糯米雞).
Strongly recommended ‘must eat’ in Cheung Chau (if you like yum cha)
The restaurant is called 漢軒茶樓 (no english name) and is located on 58 Hing Lung Back St. Just enter second alley running parallel to the main street, turn right,
keep walk and eventually you should be able to find it!
Recommended ‘must eat’ in Cheung Chau
There’s plenty of fish ball places around the Island. This one is easiest to find because of its central location and huge signs/posters with celebrities on them. It’s called Welcome Food Court (時來食坊_ and located on G/F, 150 San Hing Back Street, Cheung Chau 長洲新興後街150號地下 and definitely hard to miss.
The restaurant is called 為食堡 and is located on G/F., 10 Kin San Lane, Cheung Chau 長洲建新里10號海景樓B座地下. Turn right along the main street and keep walking down til you get to the intersection at the end.
Recommended Snack in Cheung Chau
Eat there on the spot if you have the stomach space or buy some to take home! Definitely try this if you’d like to try some HK style baked foods (they also do the Cheung Chau buns during festival season). The bakery is called 康蘭餅店 (no English name) and is located on 91 Praya St, Cheung Chau 長洲海傍道91號B地下. From the pier, turn right along the main road and walk for around 2 minutes until you see trays of baked goodies!
We used to buy these steamed cakes from the Asian supermarket every once in a while- they were always cleverly placed near the checkouts so that whilst we were waiting in line, we’d be tempted by the bright colours of the many varieties available. My parents liked buying the nice round ones with red bean, but I liked the off cuts because it tasted the same, but you’d get a lot more than with the nicely shaped ones. They were always soft and chewy (unless we kept them for too long) with a fragrant pandan coconut taste but one packet was never quite enough for our family of four!
It took me a while, but I eventually managed to find the name of these cakes, and a recipe too! 🙂 Turns out they’re Vietnamese (although there’s Indonesian/Malaysian versions as well, they’re just not quite the same as the ones I used to have), and are made of tapioca, which gives them the nice chewy texture.
As I had all the ingredients in the pantry, and the method was quite simple (i.e. mix everything together and steam), I got to work quickly. There is a bit of skill involved in the layering- add the next layer too early and the two layers will mix, resulting in less defined layers (like my bottom later). Add the the next layer too late, and the layers will be too distinct and will peel off each other when cooled (like my top few layers).
To save time, I made mine all in a big pan and cut it into diamonds- they don’t look as impressive as the store-bought ones, but they tasted every bit as amazing! Only thing was they didn’t keep past a day, because they turned hard afterwards. It’s alright though- we could easily finish off the whole batch in one go next time anyway!
Steamed Tapioca Layer Cakes (Banh Da Lon) Recipe
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
400mL coconut milk
2 cups tapioca starch/flour
1/2 cup Rice Flour
a few drops pandan essence
- In a sauce pan over low heat, dissolve sugar and salt in coconut milk and water. Let cool. In a large bowl, combine tapioca , rice flour and the coconut mixture. Stir well until dissolved. Divide the mixture into two bowls. In one of the bowls, pour a few drops of pandan essence to make a green batter.
- Grease a pan or mould with oil. I used a round cake tin.
- Fill pan with a layer of the green green mixture and steam until surface is dry, then add white mixture onto the green layer.
- Continue steaming until the white layer is dry (it will turn translucent) and then continue to add some green mixture to create another layer on top. Repeat this, with alternating colours until the mixtures are used up.
- Let cool completely and cut into pieces with a greased knife. It is best eaten within a day, but if you keep it longer and it goes hard, just put it in the microwave for a bit and it will soften again.