First impressions of Hong Kong and getting over jet lag

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There is always something rather thrilling about going on a trip or a journey, but when you’ve never visited the destination before there is an added level of excitement and anticipation. The smells, sights, sounds and general fever of the place seize you almost immediately as soon as you step foot on to Hong Kong soil. I always knew that the place would be frenetic with activity but seeing and experiencing it in the flesh is another thing. Hong Kong is buzzing and bustling with people. An initial impression is the sheer number of people who all live here side by side, or perhaps more aptly I should say – on top of, in huge towers reaching to the stars. Vertical living is very a la mode and living in dinky dwellings is standard practice.

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Whilst a lot is packed into Hong Kong there are also places to be found where there is an element of calm and serenity and to watch the world go by. One of the first places that I went to visit was the Man Mo temple, which is the oldest temple in Hong Kong, having being built in 1847. I thought it was necessary to experience the old if I was to truly understand and appreciate the new and besides I always enjoy visiting temples and churches when visiting a new country as I find it helps to better understand the underlying fabric of that country.

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The temple did not disappoint and as I strolled around it I particularly enjoyed the heady aromas from the incense coils that hung from the ceiling. From the outside the temple stands surrounded by tall tower blocks, which makes a slightly surreal sight.

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Near to the temple I came across this wonderfully vibrant street art that really appealed to me; I think Banksy would definitely approve.

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Getting to know a city I like to amble around on foot as this not only helps me get my bearings but also see what the locals are up to. Street food sellers were out in abundance selling all manners of temptingly delicious snacks to feast upon.

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As our body clock is a little confused at the moment, we are eating at rather random times of the day, that said little Z and big A always seem to be hungry around tea time and therefore are ready for a little cake to give them some energy before more sight seeing then supper. We have come across a number of bakeries selling all manner of wonderful tasting cakes. Egg tarts are popular here as well as buns filled with red bean paste.

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We visited a fish market, but it is unlike the fish markets we have in the West as the fish here were not to eat. Oh no, if you want to find fish and meat to eat as well as vegetables and fruit you need to visit a ‘wet market’ which are scattered all over Hong Kong. I hope to take some photos of these over my stay so watch this space for more on this soon.

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Tropical fish for sale at the Fish Market in Mong Kok

Our first evening meal out in Hong Kong was dim sum at the very popular Din Tai Fung, which is in fact a Taiwanese import. It’s famous for it’s Xiao Long Bao, which are steamed pork dumplings filled with broth and dipped into vinegar and ginger – basically little mouthfuls of joy! I liked the way that they had instructions on how to ‘eat’ the little darlings. How very thoughtful!

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The winner on the dim sum stakes so far though comes from Hutong where we ate delicious tasting dumplings filled with pork and fennel – ones I wouldn’t mind attempting to make when back in London. Another favourite at Hutong was the Chicken Pot with Sichuan peppers, addictively delicious and not as ‘hot’ as you would think!

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As I mentioned we have all been experiencing a bit of jet lag so I decided to make a southing, homely broth for our first lunch on Hong Kong soil. After gathering a few ingredients I made the following dish, which seemed to hit the spot after a long journey. I kept ours vegetarian, but it would taste equally good with a bit of salmon or trout thrown in for a couple of minutes. Here is how to make it.

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Jet lag Noodle Broth

Serves 3 (and enough for seconds)

splash of olive oil

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

3 tbsp light soy sauce

1 heaped tsp of vegan Bouillon/vegetable stock

boiling water (to cover veg and noodles)

generous handful of Chinese broccoli (Gai Lan) or regular broccoli/spinach/pat choi

6 small tomatoes, halved

3 eggs, boiled, shell removed and halved

2 packs of udon noodles (or 3 if you are serving just adults)

1. Place the eggs into a pan with cold water and when the water has boiled cook the eggs for 4 minutes, less if you like it soft boiled.

2. Meanwhile place a little oil in a medium sized deep pan and when it is hot add the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute before adding the soy sauce.

3. Next add the boiling water so that it reaches a quarter of the way up the pan – you can add more a little later. Add the Bouillon or vegetable stock that you are using and stir well.

4. Add the Chinese broccoli and after 2 minutes add the udon noodles. You may wish to add a little more boiling water at this stage. Taste to see if it requires a little more soy sauce. Add the tomatoes no more than a minute before serving so that they still hold their shape. If you prefer softer vegetables then cook the Chinese broccoli for a little longer, but I find a couple of minutes is more than enough.

5. Serve with a slice or two of boiled egg.

Warming, delicious and ever so quick, before you collapse and have another little sleep.

Other ingredients that would be great to add: fresh chilli, spring onions, fresh salmon/trout, mushrooms.

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King Prawn Noodle Broth – effortless joy in a bowl

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Do you ever feel too exhausted to cook in the evenings but want a fresh, healthy, comforting dish that you can prepare in lightening speed with very little effort? I think all of us do from time to time, I certainly did this evening. So I put together this wonderfully flavoursome broth in less than 10 minutes. I feel it cleanses the body and heightens ones senses. It’s definitely my kind of dish.

King Prawn Noodle Broth – Serves 2

190g  Jumbo king prawns (or any prawns will do)

1 bag/ 200g of udon noodles (double the amount if you are feeling hungry)

1 tamarind broth cube (Knorr make them)

1 garlic clove, finely sliced

6 thin slices of fresh ginger

half a red chilli, finely sliced

1 lime

1 spring onion, finely sliced

1/2 tsp of lemongrass paste

2 tsp of light soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp of coriander, chopped

1. Thinly slice the garlic, ginger, red chilli and spring onion. Heat the sesame oil in a pan, and when it is hot, add the chopped ingredients and the lemongrass paste, and cook gently for a couple of minutes.

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2. Meanwhile put 600ml of boiling water in a pan on a low heat and break up the tamarind broth cube into the water. Then add the prawns and watch them reduce in size slightly – this will only take a couple of minutes – be careful not to over cook them!

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3. Place the contents of the pan with the garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass and spring onion into the broth along with the udon noodles. Whilst I use udon noodles any type of noodles will work equally well. Experiment and see which you prefer. Cook the noodles for 3 minutes and during this time add the soy sauce and the juice from half a lime.

4. Serve piping hot with chopped coriander on the top with a lime quarter on the side.

If you are feeling under the weather or want a general ‘pick me up’ this warming broth is sure to reinvigorate you. Instead of prawns you could use chicken or for a vegetarian option: broccoli, sugar snap peas, mange tout or pak choi.