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World Food: Hong Kong

by: Richard; Chong, Eli=zabet; and Qin, Lushan Charles Sperling

Victoria, Australia : Lonely Planet 2001, $13.95, Paperback
ISBN: 1-86450-288-6

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2001 Issue: 8(3) page(s): 24 and 25

One of, if not the newest of the Lonely Planet World Food series, this two hundred seventy-two page small-size item can be tucked into your pocket. Like the company that spawned it, there is no question but it makes a direct contribution to your visit and your knowledge about this city. Hong Kong was designed as a transit point on a trade route to riches, and this delicious book and the city are rich culinary baskets of taste.

In city and book, East meets West with culinary traditions Chinese including Cantonese, those of other provinces of China, and those of the British, Portuguese, and the Asian Indians. Even if you are not planning a visit, the book offers vicarious tastes and travel on just about every one of its pages. They are a tour de force and delight.

Open the cover and begin with a history of this city’s cuisine and the many places that impact what you find there today. Then read on about staples-–specialities in words and gorgeous pictures from rice to flavorings. Continue through how and what Hong Kongers eat at home and away from home when celebrating a festival or just having a fine meal.

There are sections about food as medicine, where to shop, and where and what to eat and drink. There is information on how to understand local menus, and one about a Hong Kong banquet. Were that not enough, the book speaks about Macao and speaks the local lingo so you can, too, with pages called: 'Eat Your Words.' It has a very usable English-Cantonese glossary, wonderful and needed travel and food phrases, a pronunciation guide, and a culinary dictionary. And should that still not be enough, there is a recommended reading list of books about Chinese food and this city worthy of your attention. Unfortunately, that list does not include Flavor and Fortune, but maybe the next revision will. Until then, savor the pictures of hedgehog buns, and those of jade coral and deep fried turnip dumplings, as well as the list of eleven other dim sum delights.

For those who travel vicariously, take a trip to your kitchen and try the dozen recipes. They are simple such as juk which is the northern equivalent of a congee, or complicated as is the Ching Bo Leung, a wonderful herbal soup. The Beef Tongue with Garlic is delicious as is the Macanese grilled Galinha, an African chicken dish with a coconut sauce.

From Soy Sauce and eateries that serve western-style food for a Chinese palate, to the roasteries making barbecued meat, to the speakeasies and beyond, this book is an essential guide to food, drink, and all aspects of food culture that is Hong Kong. Knowing or going, it is delicious. It is for people who live to eat, drink, travel, and taste the culinary that is in this vibrant city.
Beef Tongue with Garlic
1 beef tongue, about two pounds
3 slices fresh ginger
3 star anise
1 cucumber
2 Tablespoons thin soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1. But the beef tongue in boiling water for five minutes, remove and scrape and clean it.
2. Put it in a pressure cooker with the ginger, star anise and cover an cook fifteen minutes. Cool the pressure cooker with cold water, then open and remove the tongue and let it cool for twenty minutes. Slice it into bite-sized pieces and arrange on a platter.
3. Combine the rest of the ingredients and simmer for two minutes, pour over the meat and serve.

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