Kiwi Chef Brett McGregor is back in Hong Kong in this latest episode of Taste of a Traveller.
“Squeezed into a corner of Asia, Hong Kong is a fast paced concrete jungle, where eating is a serious business,” Brett says. “It is the only city in the world where the Michelin guide has given stars to street food vendors.”
To try some of these famous street food vendors himself, Brett starts his trip with a city food tasting tour, run by Silvana Leung. She starts the tour with some rice rolls. “This traditional rice roll is what we eat for breakfast,” Silvana explains. “You can tell they are good quality rice rolls because they don’t stick together, and yet don’t unroll into a flat sheet.”
“A lot of locals come here every morning for breakfast as part of their routine. And no one eats with chopsticks, we eat them with sticks!”
Brett loves them, of course. “There’s a lot going on here; sweet, spicy, peanut sauce… and the pop of the sesame gives it a little edge of freshness that I really like.”
Breakfast isn’t over yet, and Silvana brings Brett for a tofu dessert. Smoother than western tofu, the soft silky texture is sprinkled with sugar and then ginger syrup. The difference leads to Brett declaring that it’s the nicest tofu he’s ever had!
Dim Sum is comparable to brunch, and Chef Eddy Leung has invited Brett to try his favourite recipes. “Dim means order,” Explains Eddy, “and Sum means hot. Dim Sum is a hundred different styles, all cooked in small pieces, especially for breakfast.”
Part of the meal on offer includes chicken feet. “I have tried it once before, and it wasn’t very pleasant for me,” Brett warns. “But I’ll give it another try.”
“There’s a lot of bones!” Brett says, “but it’s worth trying. The flavour is really beautiful, but a lot of Kiwis would have trouble with the gelatinous flavour.”
Eddy then invites Brett to join him that evening to help him cook for some friends who are in town from Shanghai. After spending the afternoon shopping for ingredients, which was an adventure in itself, Brett joins Eddy in his private kitchen, where he learns how to cook Cantonese Drunken Chicken. It’s this recipe that Brett will take home to New Zealand and give it his own twist.
“I love cooking with chicken at home, and I know many other Kiwis do too,” Brett says, “but we’re pan-frying or roasting it so often. I’ve come up with a new and inventive way of taking the humble chicken to new heights of deliciousness –drunken chicken.”
Unfortunately, the first step isn’t getting drunk – it’s creating the master stock. Brett takes a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, a star anise, a clove of garlic, and a few slices of ginger. He then takes a couple of lemongrass stalks, breaks them up and adds them to the pan with the other ingredients.
“Now the reason I call it drunken chicken; Shaoxing wine,” Brett explains before adding half a cup. “The good things about this master stock is, once you’ve cooked your chicken in there, the juices come out and create an absolutely amazing sauce for other dishes.”
Brett then adds half a cup of water and 385ml of dark soy sauce to the pot, to give a rich, deep, beautiful colour. “Now because the liquid is never going to cover the entire chicken,” Brett explains, “you must put the chicken in breast side down for 10 minutes first. Then turn it over and baste it continuously to ensure you develop that delicious colour and the chicken is cooked all the way through.”
After the chicken cooks for around 35-40 minutes, Brett lets it cool before the final step – Olivado Sesame Oil. “My trick here, to add a tiny bit of extra flavour, is to take one of those lemongrass stalks and cut the end into a tiny brush.”
Brett then pours the Olivado Sesame oil over the chicken and uses his homemade vegetable brush to cover the dish with it. “Not only will it make the chicken glisten beautifully, but it’s all about adding more flavour.”
Brett then plates up using some Thai basil, before chopping the chicken into 6 pieces and carefully placing them on the leaves. The result is simply mouth-watering.
If you would like to try this recipe at home, you’ll need some Olivado Sesame Oil to add that finishing touch like Brett did.