Barbecued Butterflied Leg of Lamb

We were in Sai Kung last weekend and stopped by TC Deli for the first time on a mission to test some of their produce and see if it makes the cut. We were told about this butcher by some friends who throw some of the best dinner parties in town, so we are inclined to believe that they know what they are talking about! It’s a bit of a mission to go all the way there for a piece of meat and unfortunately TC Deli don’t deliver, but if you are in the area, I suggest you stop by for some great tasting/well-priced boneless lamb leg!

Australian Free Range Lamb, at a really great price!

Australian Free Range Lamb

I wanted to make dinner for my family on a weekday, and didn’t have time to do a traditional roast. Butterflying the lamb leg is a perfect way to either BBQ or roast a generous piece of lamb in a shorter amount of time. It also creates a long piece of meat with varying thicknesses, so you can serve everyone their preferred done-ness, from the more well-done end pieces to the very pink in the center. Make life easier for yourself (I did!) and buy a boneless lamb leg so you don’t have to bother cutting out the bone yourself. Simply cut off the netting, roll the lamb leg out, and slice the large meaty section perfectly in half (see the picture below).

If you are prepared and are able to marinate the lamb the night before, then good on you! I marinated mine 3 hours before cooking it and it still tasted fab, but you can never go wrong with more marinating.

This is a combination of 2-3 recipes that I found online and took the best of each! I BBQed this wonderful piece of lamb, because I love that char-grilled goodness and smokey taste. I’ll also try it in the oven one day and let you know how it goes.

Different thicknesses make this a great cut for everyone

Different thicknesses make this a great cut for everyone

B-Licious Leg of Lamb
(Barbecued, Butterflied & Boneless )

 

You’ll Need:
(Serves 5-6, with side dishes)

1.70kg boneless lamb leg
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, roughly minced
3-4 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
3-4 sprigs of rosemary, roughly chopped
Crushed black pepper
Maldon sea salt

Optional basting butter:

100g butter
1/2 a lemon, juiced

Method:

Marinate the lamb. Place it in a flat glass dish and add all of the marinade ingredients, except for the salt. Adding the salt now will draw out the moisture and toughen up the lamb. Make sure that it’s all rubbed in nicely on the meat side and fat side, cover and leave to marinate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

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1.70kg of lamb, marinating nicely!

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Marinated Tomatoes – great for your skin!

This is a wonderful side dish for a summery lunch or dinner, and a great dish to take to a friends place if you’re invited for a BBQ! I’ve adapted this recipe for marinated tomatoes based on what I had in my fridge, this is my basic recipe but you can vary the herbs you use to change it up every time. Not only does it look good and taste fresh, but tomatoes have so many nutritional benefits. Firstly, ladies, tomatoes are a super-food for your skin:

Beta-carotene helps protect your skin against sun damage
Vitamins A and C fight the free radicals that cause cell (that includes collagen) damage
Lycopene also makes skin less sensitive to UV light damage, a major culprit of fine lines and wrinkles!
Tomatoes can also keep your blood sugar in balance, and high blood sugar increases the signs of aging. Did you know that diabetics tend to look on average 2 years older than their actual age?

Fellas, don’t want to leave you out! Lycopene can reduce cancer risk, including the most common cancer for men, that of the prostate.

There are several other benefits to be enjoyed from eating tomatoes, but let’s get to the point here – a great recipe to encourage you to eat more of them!

Beautiful, bright and full of flavour!

Beautiful, bright and full of flavour!

LoveBites Marinated Tomatoes
(Serves 5 as a side dish)

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Pan-seared Scallops – Minted Peas – Pancetta

I was very keen to try making this dish after eating it at Ripples Milsons Point in Sydney. It’s not a revolutionary recipe and it’s been around for yonks, but it doesn’t take that much time to prepare and is actually quite a simple recipe in terms of it’s components and cooking method.

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Scallops, minted peas and pancetta served on a block on Himalayan pink salt with truffled cream

Believe it or not, I have never attempted to cook scallops before, one of the easiest things too cook and actually not as expensive as I thought they would be. I cleared out the scallops at GrEAT and bought 12 pieces of scallop meat for HK$282 to cook as a starter portion for 4 people. It is a dish that feels quite grand, will impress your guests, and you can have a little silent chuckle with yourself whilst they eat it up, because it was just that easy to make.

The petits pois were in the freezer – smaller than the US brands of frozen green peas, they are picked young when they are sweeter. I find they keep their colour better, and are more crisp. The bacon was in the fridge too, so I used that instead of pancetta. You could use pancetta cubes as well if you want. The truffle cream is not necessary, but it looks pretty on the plate if you can be bothered. I had black truffle paste in the fridge from a previous dinner party, so I stirred that into some crème fraîche and hey presto!

Allow me to digress, but whenever I hear the words ‘crème fraîche’, I am always reminded of that hilarious South Park episode featuring an emotional Jamie Oliver, an aggressively passionate Gordon Ramsay, Mario Batalli, Paula Dean and Giada de Laurentiis – and let’s not forget the  Shake Weight. Or the cream freeeesh. Definitely one of my favorite episodes!


Ok, now back to the cooking – try out the recipe, you won’t regret it. This recipe serves 4 as a starter.

You’ll need:

4 rashers of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
12 scallops
25g unsalted butter
salt and ground black pepper

For the Minted Pea Purée:
50g unsalted butter
6 spring onions, finely sliced (I used 3/4 of an onion, which is also fine)
200g petits pois
1 tsp caster sugar
275ml chicken stock
2 tbsp mint, leaves only, rough chopped
80ml double cream

Method:

Make the minted pea purée. Melt half of the butter until hot and foaming in a deep skillet and soften the onions. Add the petits pois, sugar, stock and the rest of the butter. Make a drop lid from greaseproof paper: cut off a piece just bigger than the skillet, fold it in quarters and use scissors to cut the edge in a circular shape. Cover the peas with the drop lid and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.

(Drop lids help to cook evenly, and also preserve the bright colour of the peas.)

Remove the drop lid, stir in the mint and cream and cook briskly for a further minute or so until the liquid has almost all evaporated. Pour the pea mixture into a food processor and blitz into a purée that still has a bit of chunk to it. Set aside.

Cook the scallops and the bacon. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, heat a griddle pan and melt 25g of unsalted butter, then sear the scallops for one minute on each side. If there are one or two pieces that are a bit bigger then cook them for a little longer, but don;t be tempted to cook for too long – they’ll get rubbery. Meanwhile, fry up the bacon.

Plate it up – I did it exactly like they did at Ripples in the picture above. It was so good that I didn’t have time to take a picture!

♥♥♥ Enjoy! ♥♥♥

Ripples on Sydney Harbour

But calm and lucid as an English lake,
Beloved by beams and wooed by wind and wing,
Shut in from tempest-trampled wastes of wave,
And sheltered from white wraths of surge by walls—
Grand ramparts founded by the hand of God,
The lordly Harbour gleams. Yea, like a shield
Of marvellous gold dropped in his fiery flight
By some lost angel in the elder days,
When Satan faced and fought Omnipotence,
It shines amongst fair, flowering hills, and flows
By dells of glimmering greenness manifold.
And all day long, when soft-eyed Spring comes round
With gracious gifts of bird and leaf and grass—
And through the noon, when sumptuous Summer sleeps
By yellowing runnels under beetling cliffs,
This royal water blossoms far and wide
With ships from all the corners of the world.

From the poem, Sydney Harbour, by Henry Kendall.

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Going under the bridge for the short ride across the harbour to Luna Park

There is little wonder why Sydney Harbour is known as the most beautiful natural harbour in the world. As a Hong Konger, I’d like to proclaim the same about my harbour, but apples to apples, it doesn’t make the cut. Perhaps I am lucky to always visit in the autumn, when the sun shines brightly and the breezes are cool, but I have fallen in love with this city, so much so that I am reading poems about it!

On the final day of our visit, we boarded a ferry named Alexander (like my brother!)  for lunch at Ripples Milsons Point Luna Park, which is the first stop on the Darling Harbour service and a short 7 minute chug across the harbour.  We had been recommended to go there by a friend, who mentioned that there is a smarter restaurant above called Aqua, but that Ripples on the ground level was casual, well-priced and yet served great food.

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Circular Quay and a blue, blue sky as we leave the terminal

This is what we saw as we approached on the ferry – a huge smiling face with great big teeth between two Empire State Building-esk towers and a colourful ferris wheel! In this computer-reliant age, I am guilty of being one of those people that googles everything before I visit it. The experience is akin to film versus digital photography – sure, it’s nice to be able to check your screen to see if your photo turned out well.  But don’t you sometimes miss that excitement and anticipation of picking up the little envelope of photos after developing your roll of film, wondering how they look and even surprising yourself with photos that you didn’t recall taking?  Well, this time, I didn’t google anything before our lunch, so you can imagine the surprise and glee when I realised that Luna Park wasn’t of the garden variety, but a huge colourful theme park – I felt like a little girl again, for a few moments! My mother mentioned that she used to love coming here when she was younger, and the look of nostalgia that crossed over her face was heart-warming.

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Luna Park

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The entrance to Luna Park

North Sydney Olympic Pool

From sydneywebcam.blogspot.com – a wonderful blog site that used to publish a photo of Sydney every day, but for some reason stopped in 2006. I’m tempted to write to him and ask him to continue where he left off!

The restaurant is situated next to the North Sydney Olympic Pool, most likely the most scenic public pool in Sydney, perhaps the world! Ripples is located on the bottom left-hand corner of the pool, and used to be where the pool kiosk was located.It was transformed in to an alfresco restaurant in 2002,which serves casual Australian fare with seasonal ingredients, with a view to die for.

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Ripples Milsons Point

We ordered a bottle of Rosé and a selection of food to share between the three of us. Apart from pavlova, I can’t think of a particular dish that represents Australian cuisine, like France has coq au vin, Italy has pasta, or the Philippines has adobo. When I think of Australian cuisine, I think of BBQs, seafood, and I think of the most fresh ingredients that I have tasted, ingredients that taste of sunshine. So for me, that is what Australia has – sunshine, on a plate.

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Scallops – minted peas – pancetta – truffle cream AUD$21 (HK$170)

The scallops were served on a block of Himalayan pink salt – stunning! I need to get me some of those! The scallops were bouncy and full of delicate flavour. I have always loved this combination of scallops, mint and pancetta and this dish does not disappoint. In fact, we liked it so much that we immediately ordered another one!

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Sashimi – avocado – cucumber – ginger AUD 22 (HK$ 177)

I was a bit reluctant to order sashimi, particularly because we eat so much of it at home, but my mum insisted, and I’m glad that she did. First of all, the fish was served almost at room temperature, which was actually quite nice and different from your usual sashimi experience. The kingfish had a nice fresh flavour, and I loved that avo (avocado for us non-Australians) and ginger flavour. I’m definitely trying to replicate this at my next dinner party!

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Fish of the day?

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Aracini – tomato – basil – mozzarella AUD 18 (HK$ 145)

We had a thing with risotto balls during this trip, and these ones were certainly very different to the ones that we tried at Berta (post coming soon). I’m not usually a fan of risotto, or risotto balls by extension, but the rice was tender and the center of melted mozzarella was a really nice surprise –  I like dem Aussie risotto balls!

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Whitebait – lime mayo AUD 9.50 (HK$ 76)

From the ‘nibbles & sharing” section of the menu, the whitebait was crispy and quite meaty as far as the small fish goes, with a nice and very dip-able dip – with all that mayo, it probably wasn’t a good idea to dip at the frequency that we were dipping …

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Fish n Chips AUD 26 (HK$ 209)

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Oyster craving? Check out Edo & Bibo

I write this after another wonderful date night with PB. I’m going to Sydney tonight and we really enjoyed the time to re-group and enjoy each others company before I head off for 5 days. So, I may approach the review of this restaurant in a slightly biased fashion, because above all, the company is what makes the experience truly enjoyable. We really did enjoy our meal at Edo & Bibo, if you’re on a date then the counter seats are perfect for a tête-à-tête, and larger groups are also very easily accommodated. It was certainly a good sign that on a Thursday night, there was not an empty table in sight.

The bread basket

The bread basket

We were the only ones on the counter, which was set up for groups of two. From here, you can see all the action, from the oyster shucking to the salad mixing and even the tartare making. PB had already ordered the wine by the time I’d arrived, and when I asked him what he thought of the selection, I got a shoulder shrug in response – he was not very inspired it seems. He did pick a nice Chablis however, which went well with the oysters. If you’d like to BYO, corkage is HK$150 a bottle.

The bread selection was nicely presented, but not very good quality at all – the baguette was toughly chewy (now that’s an oxymoron!). Oh well, we’re not there for the bread.

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A great deal for a quality selection of oysters

We were there, however, for the OYSTERS! If you are an oyster lover too, make sure you get to the restaurant before 9pm, or you might find the selection severely diminished. The oysters are delivered fresh daily, and E&B is one of four establishments in the same building (all opened by ET Troop) that serves these oysters. Certainly by the end of our meal, there was scant choice left on the ice.

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A wide choice of French oyster selections, not just your usual fine de claire.

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Some oysters I’d never heard of…

The Gillardeau oysters are produced by a small farm owned by the Gillardeau family, which produces only spéciales – a fleshier and thus more expensive oyster. Theirs is a very interesting story, which you might like to read about in this New York Times article.

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And a selection of international oysters..

That day, the oysters included in the buy one get one free oyster promotion were Pacific Rock, Irish Gigas, Fine de Claire, Osole, and Tsarskaya. Not being a huge fan of Pacific Rock oysters (those things are massive – I always feel like gagging when I eat them), we chose the other four plus two of the Gillardeau spéciales.

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The oysters on display in all their glory!

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Our oyster selection, clockwise from the bottom: Irish Gigas, Osole (Korea), Fine de Claire (France), Tsarskaya (France), Gillardeau (France)

We were in for a treat! I have read some mixed reviews of Edo & Bibo (Janice @ E*ting the World was certainly not impressed), but I for one was very pleasantly surprised by the variety, freshness and taste on offer here. The oysters were expertly shucked, and each one seemed to retain the flavour of the water from whence they came. I am a regular customer at Oyster Station in SoHo, and I must say that the oysters at E&B certainly are served with more care.

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Cocktail Sauce and Red Wine Vinegar

A scrumptious cocktail sauce is served, chunkier than most and although it is most likely made with canned tomatoes, it tastes fresh. The red wine vinegar is is dark and seems almost to have a condensed vinegary-ness – a little goes a long way.

We started with the Irish Gigas (HK$58 for two), which were less creamy than I remember them being, in a good way. Perhaps it was due to the fact that they were served quite cold so it made the creaminess more bearable.

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Korean Osole HK$ 59 for two

This is the first time I’ve heard about Korean oysters, let alone eaten one. The Osole were meatier, the water saltier, but for some reason, not our cup of tea at all. I can’t put my finger exactly on it, but the Osole  somehow lacked the refined taste of the other oysters.

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Fine de Claire HK$68 for two

Fine de Claires are always smaller, more crisp, and somehow more savory, and always yummy. They are fine in every definition of the word.

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French Tsarskaya

From Brittany, the Tsarskaya oyster is meant to be more creamy with woody accents, apparently. I say that because it’s the first time I’ve tried them. They are longer in shape, and these ones had a bit too much membrane for me. They were a bit on the skinny side too – the Kate Moss of our oyster selection.

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French Gillardeau HK$68 each

These babies were beautiful, and the all-around favourite. Big, but not to meaty and not too creamy, delicately flavoured with a beautiful briny taste – just perfect really. Too bad they weren’t part of the two for one offer because I could have had a whole plate of them.

Just as quickly as it had started, our oyster round was over (boo). We moved on to our second round of starters, the first we chose from their “Chef Specials”: Edo & Bibo Signature Caesar Salad with Apple Wood Smoked Bacon and Fresh Graded Parmeson (sic)”. As far as Caesar Salads go, it was definitely one of the better ones – crisp Romaine lettuce, a nice tangy creamy dressing. Using the dressing as a plate garnish was somehow lost on us, and there was not enough of that (very nice) bacon. It also rained Parmesan onto our plates when we picked up each leaf – but I love that stuff.

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Signature Caesar Salad HK$108

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Tai Hang Eats: Katte Shabu Shabu

It’s starting to get HOT ‘n SUNNY, Hong Kong! Could this mean the first scorching Rugby 7’s weekend that we’ve seen in a few years (fingers crossed)? One can hope … still, you may have a week or two to sneak in some tummy-warming shabu shabu sessions before the real heat comes. We paid our first visit to Katte Shabu Shabu a couple of weekends ago with our foodie friends and sat at the 8 person counter table. Each setting is complete with your own electric hot plate which heats your individual hot pot – a nice touch! It was better to not have to share, and a smaller and shallower bowl means you can keep better track of what goes into your pot.

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We all started off with a chilled glass of Hitachino Nest White Ale, a superbly refreshing and surprisingly tasty beer with hints of orange! I’m not a huge beer drinker but am always up for a Japanese brew, as I find they tend to be more delicately flavoured. You can find the beers at several restaurants around town, and if you’re a real enthusiast, you can place an order with their Hong Kong distributor GoTech Limited, and have it delivered straight to your front door! All information is available on their very well designed (and dare I say cute) website.

 

hitachino nest beer

The menu is designed so that you order a Shabu Shabu Dinner Set each. Some of us went for the Deluxe Set, which features A5 Kyushu Beef Sirloin/Ribeye in 80g (HK$380) or 150g (HK$600) portions. Others opted for the Seafood Set: oyster, prawn and 200g of horsehair crab for HK$480. The menu states that the Seafood Set has to be ordered 12 hours in advance (!!), but we didn’t have an issue. I unfortunately didn’t take a picture of it, but it was a very generous plate of quality fresh seafood, and each set comes with assorted raw vegetables, noodles, soup and a dessert.

The Japanese take their beef very seriously such that some beef connoisseurs might even be able to differentiate the type of animal and the terroir which it was reared on! Let’s get our terminology straight here – the term ‘wagyu’ refers literally to ‘Japanese cows’. Within the wagyu umbrella are several breeds of cattle, which are often referred to in name by the prefecture that produced them. There are a few different types of cattle that are reared on the island of Kyushu, and it wasn’t specified which one we were eating at Katte.

‘A5’ refers to the Japanese Wagyu Beef Grading classification, A5 being the best standard of beef that you can get your hands on! The grading is determined by the yield grade A-C and quality (referring to marbling) grade 1-5 of the beef. Here’s more information if you’re interested!

If you want to know more, Asia Tatler has written a great article about Wagyu Beef.

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A large portion of vegetables, making this quite a healthy meal!

Some of us chose the Red Snapper broth, whilst others chose the Sukiyaki broth. The Red Snapper broth was milky white in colour and quite mild in taste in the beginning, but never have I drank so much broth at the end of my meal! Once we had our full and the dipping subsided, the broth had absorbed all the flavour of the veggies, beef and seafood such that it’s taste is so wonderful that you can’t stop dunking your spoon. The Sukiyaki broth was also surprisingly nice, not too sweet and actually preferable for dipping the pork slices and seafood. If two of you are dining together, I would suggest getting one of each broth and trying them both.

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From the Dinner Set: Clam Soup

The clam soup almost too delicately flavoured. It was a nice way to warm up the stomach before starting with the shabu shabu, but other than that, nothing to write home about. And giving you one clam is a bit stingy!!

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The $600 set comes with 5-6 slices of A5 Kyushu beef

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The $380 Deluxe Set comes with 3 slices of A5 Kyushu beef

I didn’t want to be limited to just eating beef or seafood, so I decided to take the smaller beef set, and for the same price as the larger set, I ordered a selection of other things from the hot pot and kushiyaki menus. Having reviewed the photos afterwards, my beef looked much more marbled then the other beef – why the discrepancy I wonder?

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From the Hot Pot Menu: Japanese Pork Slices HK$150

The Japanese pork slices were very flavourful and although a bit chewy, they were excellent dipped in the Sukiyaki broth!

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From the Hot Pot menu: Scallops HK$60

These scallops are humongous! I feel that scallops really shine the most when they are grilled, and it was almost a waste to dip them in a hot pot. Nevertheless, they were nice and meaty, and a generous portion for $60.

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From the Kushiyaki menu: Grilled Ox Tongue with Salt HK$46 per skewer

The Ox Tongue was really well seasoned and whilst one or two of the pieces were a bit chewy, the rest was nice and tender and definitely up there as one of the better Ox Tongue kushiyaki that I have tried. Definitely better than the ones at Kushiyaki Beco, though not as amazing as the ones at 3 Monkeys.

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Cooking the books: Super Easy Yakitori at home!

Harumis Japanese Home CookingI am so happy with this yakitori recipe that I just had to share it with you right away! I was given Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking for Christmas and this was the first time I used it. I’ve been really lazy recently with cooking, doing the same old thing or getting takeaway from Chicken On The Run, and it’s starting to get boring. So today, I opened my cookbook, and found one of the easiest recipes I could find, and I am happy to report to you that it turned out fantastic! Who knew that making your own teriyaki sauce at home could be so easy?!

 

Yakitori adapted from Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking
makes 12 skewers

You’ll need:

800g …… boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ square pieces
6 ………… baby leeks, washed and dried, cut into 1 3/4″ pieces
12 ………. bamboo skewers
sunflower or vegetable oil
1/2 cup … teriyaki sauce

For the teriyaki sauce:

1/2 cup soya sauce
1/2 cup mirin
4 tbls caster sugar

Method:

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Check out that scum!

1. Prepare the teriyaki sauce. Combine the mirin, soya sauce and sugar in a saucepan and gently cook over low heat for 20 minutes, no need to stir. Once finished, skim the surface of any scum and set aside.

2. Soak the bamboo skewers in water for a few minutes so they won’t burn when cooking. Cut the chicken into 1 inch square pieces, thread the chicken and the leeks onto the skewers, alternating as you go.

IMG_44963. Warm the BBQ or put a little oil in a large skillet. When well heated, fry the skewers until nicely brown and cooked through.

4. Coat the chicken skewers in your very own teriyaki sauce, arrange on a large plate and serve!

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Super yum – try it for yourself!

This recipe could get EVEN EASIER, and you’d have a great meal in 20 minutes. Simply leave out the leeks (I did), leave the chicken thighs whole and ditch the skewers for a Chicken Teriyaki recipe. Not having to marinate means you can grill your meat whilst you make the teriyaki sauce! Serve it with a bowl of rice and some stir-fried veggies and you’ve got yourself a great after work meal.

♥♥♥ Enjoy! ♥♥♥

A little bit of garnish goes a long way ...

A little bit of garnish goes a long way …

LoveBites Day Out: Lei Yue Mun and the Island East Market

I woke up on Sunday with an urge to do something I’ve never done before. We hardly ever visit the eastern side of Hong Kong island, unless it’s to go to Director’s Club to watch a movie (leather reclining seats, they take your order while you sit, free hot dogs, free flow popcorn and soft drinks!), or to buy Japanese products at Uny. I had been hearing talk of Lei Yue Mun for the past week, and have been meaning to visit the East Island Market for some time now. In the spirit of adventure, we mapped out our plan for the day.

We caught the ferry from Sai Wan Ho Ferry Pier to Sam Ka Tsuen (check here for ferry timetable). At HK$6, it is a great way to experience a journey across the harbour, on a Kai-To ferry. There are only a handful of routes still served by the Kai-To on Hong Kong island.

Sai wan ho ferry

We left the Sai Wan Ho Ferry pier, and after a short 10 minute journey, we exchanged this skyline ….

Leaving Sai Wan Ho Ferry Pier...

for this one …

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Pretty neat, huh?

You arrive at the gate of Lei Yue Mun, just a short 4 minute stroll away from the Sam Ka Tsuen ferry pier.

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We walked through the narrow street of restaurants, pass the Chinese pastry vendor, the fish tanks, a local 士多, until we reached Lung Tang Restaurant at the very end. We dined by the water, and enjoyed the peace and quite (once we had gotten over the subtle stench of the nearby sewage pipe). Lung Tang Restaurant doesn’t have its own seafood tanks, so you purchase your seafood at one of the vendors near the entrance of the restaurant, and Lung Tang charges a small cooking fee to whip it into a feast for you.

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After being shown to our seats, we were then ushered to the fish tanks to choose our seafood at Ting Kee Seafood, aided by the very smiley Mrs. Yuen.

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This handsome and quite hefty fella, our Philippine lobster, was soon to be our lunch.

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