“Look! I bought you an English cookbook with simple Hong Kong dishes. Now, you can cook Hong Kong food for me every day!”
(Mr. Panda 2013)
In March 2013 we visited a book store in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. I was waiting outside when Mr. Panda turned up with a small bag in his hand. He drew out a nice white book with two egg tarts on it. He was so excited, and with sparkling eyes he told me: “Look! I bought you an English cookbook with simple Hong Kong dishes in it. Now, you can cook Hong Kong food for me every day!”
Of course I was a little offended, because you know, you should not tell your girlfriend/wife/partner that you wish for her to cook like your mom. Anyway, after my anger and uncertainty was gone, I started to browse through the book. I was really surprised about how easy the recipes were and how detailed the descriptions were. Definitely doable for me! I love to cook, but as China is quite far away and it was difficult to get authentic ingredients in my hometown back then, I never had the chance to learn how to cook other than Middle European dishes. With my new book, the help of teacher internet, and the many Asian supermarkets in Vienna, the tide has turned.
簡易食譜 – 精選．易學．經典
Easy Recipes – A Selection of Simple Classics
Author of my nice little helper in the kitchen is actually Christine Ho, Hong Kong food blogger living in Australia. She offers many different recipes on her blog, mostly Asian, like Hong Kongnese, Chinese or Japanese, but also Western ones. Her recipes are really enjoyable as they are easy to follow. She also gives a lot of tips on how you can improve your cooking and what to watch out for.
I already am a good cook when it comes to Western cooking, but I was really at a loss when I started to cook more traditional Chinese dishes. I was really thankful for all the advices she includes in her blog and her book. Although you can already find almost 500 recipes online, she exclusively included some recipes in her cookbook.
The book is divided in several sections, and all include many different recipes: Basics on Chinese cooking, breakfast, tea snacks, soup, main courses, noodles and rice, desserts and special side dishes from Chinese cuisine. A conversion chart and a Chinese-English glossary of common Chinese cooking terms is also included.
Although so many recipes can already be found online, I really liked to start to cook Hong Kongnese with her book. Every recipe includes a big, clearly visible photo about how the dish should look like when it is finished and she explains all used ingredients in every recipe with photos. So even if you have trouble to find correct translations on the ingredient, you can still look at the picture to find the matching one.
What I also liked is that all recipes are bilingual: Cantonese and English. Although my Mom in law is already a good cook when it comes to Cantonese food, she was very happy we could cook something together with the book without the need of copies from different websites.
I have cooked some of the recipes so many times so far that they became my standard dishes: Stir-fried rice noodles with beef, Hong Kong style French toast or steamed eggs with milk and Osmanthus.
Do you also have a favorite cookbook or blog you always use? I would really like to hear which ones are your favorites.