February 23, 2013

Eat for two

Pin It

My lunch today came about as a discussion over a month ago, over dinner and wine with some friends. I had enjoyed my two previous visits to the Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market (香港仔魚類批發市場), and wanted to introduce a few friends to the place.  As I was going to be out of town for a few weekends and Lunar New Year was coming up, I planned a few weeks ahead and settled on today.

Naturally, I sought help with my friend KC, who had organized my previous meals and had connections with the fishermen.  KC very generously agreed to act as the liaison, and so I left matters in his good hands.  After the fishermen returned from their Lunar New Year holidays, the menu began to take shape…  I was very much looking forward to this feast.

I arrived at the canteen today to find a table of 12 booked for us.  There were only 6 of us, and I realized that there had been a miscommunication somewhere.  The seafood had been sourced separately, and was already being prepared for our meal.  It was too late to cut back on the quantity.  I fretted a little about the amount of food that was going to flood our table, and wondered how we could possibly finish it all…

Pan-fried local Japanese tiger prawns in soy sauce (豉油王大花竹蝦) - these were positively HUGE!  The plate looked impressive and probably had one prawn meant for each person.  However, we had half of the intended diners, and a couple of us are allergic to prawns…

I greedily sucked on a couple of heads, as these were pretty big and had lots of yummy goodness inside.  Even my friends who are allergic and could only watch us eat from the sidelines had a sense of how delicious these were… as the scent was overwhelming.

We weren't able to finish the big plate, as we wanted to save some room for the rest of the dishes…  I did have two of these, though.

Deep-fried abalone (椒鹽鮑魚) - these were very, very good.  Crispy on top but still moist inside, with a good balance between soft and the right amount of bite.  We each had two of these…

The steamed fish course went through a couple of changes, with a very surprising ending.  Initially it was supposed to be humphead wrasse (蘇眉), a prized delicacy.  I asked for a substitute, as the fish is in the "Avoid" category in the World Wildlife Fund's seafood guide.  Fourfinger threadfin (馬友) was suggested as it's the right season, and I happily agreed.  However, the fish on the plate didn't look anything like a threadfin, and when asked what kind of fish it was, the staff simply said "grouper (石斑)".

This was a big fish… more than 3 catties.  It was a touch over-steamed, but still tasted fine.  The soy sauce-based sauce, though, was a little heavier than usual in terms of oil.  In fact the skin tasted a little thick and oily, too…  It sure was tasty!

I only found out after the meal that this was no ordinary grouper, but actually a small giant grouper (龍躉)!  One often sees real giant ones being kept in fish tanks at Cantonese seafood restaurants in Hong Kong, and it's another prized delicacy.  Fortunately it's listed in the "Think Twice" category of the seafood guide, so it's a little better in terms of environmental impact…

Mud crabs steamed with egg white (蛋白蒸爆羔蟹) - this was even better than what I remembered from last time.  One would expect the crab meat to be sweet since the crabs were fresh, but there was a layer of flavor beyond that which I could only describe in Chinese as 鮮, which doesn't translate literally as "fresh", but it could only have come from the abundance of tomalley (蟹羔). This was definitely awesome, and it's been a while since I've had crabs which were as tasty as this.

Steamed fourfinger threadfin (蒸鹹鮮馬友) - this was very, very delicious and probably the favorite dish of the group.  Initially the staff recommended that the fish be taken home entirely without being served, as there was too much food.  I insisted that the dish be served and we would take home any leftovers, as I always thought it was special the way they serve fish that was salted overnight.  Before we dug in, I asked that one of the two fish be packed away, so that we would only be tucking into one.

The fish was absolutely delicious.  Marinating in salt had given the flesh a little more bite and texture compared to a fresh fish, and certainly added a good amount of flavor.  The fattiness of the fish also provided an additional layer of complexity to the flavor.  After a while the gang clamored for more, and we ended up taking the other fish out of the box it was packed in and ate it on the spot!

Seafood soup (海鮮湯) - they didn't have the usual local fish soup (老火湯) today, so we had this instead.  Quickly boiled with pomfret (鯧魚), mud crab, tofu and veggies.  The pile of "dregs" was certainly impressive!  We would end up taking this home so as not to waste it.

The soup itself was very light, despite the volume having been further reduced by boiling it for a little longer.  I could definitely taste the tofu and the veggie, on top of the seafood.  Too bad we didn't have room for more than 1 bowl.

Deep-fried squid (椒鹽鮮魷) - this was originally taken off our menu after discovering we had too much food.  However the group clearly wanted a taste of this, so I added a small order.  Very, very delish, and everyone was happy with this decision.

We took some Chinese lettuce (唐生菜) to help with digestion.

Our bellies were full, but we couldn't leave without some of the kick-ass French toast (西多士)!  I was blown away by this the last time around, and insisted that we order two portions since one piece for each person just wouldn't do.  I was glad I did, and I observed the look of surprise on the faces around the table as everyone enjoyed this.  Light, fluffy and "ethereal" as I described them last time.

But there was more!  There was a box of homemade macarons, which turned out to be passion fruit flavored with a chocolate/passion fruit ganache.  I liked the fact that these were soft and moist instead of hard and crumbly.  I ended up taking up apart and eating them like Oreos…

We were all winos around the table, and had a nice little collection of bottles to drink out of standard issue tea glasses.  I ended up drinking a reasonable amount for lunch, while the Specialist was noticeably reserved.  I guess the wines just weren't up to her standards…

2009 Doisy-Daëne Sec - nose of green apple, muscat grapes and minerals.

2007 Cloudy Bay Te Koko - minerals and muscat grapes.  Not drinking as well as I remembered.

2012 Mount Edward Riesling Morrison Vineyard - my Birdbrain Cousin was saying that the Sauvignon Blancs were like lolly water, but this one takes the cake!  Tons of sweet bubble gum-like notes and almond in the very aromatic nose.  Is this even Riesling, because it is not even remotely close to what German and French Rieslings are like?!

2011 Mount Edward Pinot Noir - young and still a little tannic.

We left very stuffed but very happy.  Unfortunately the canteen is due to close mid-August, as the rent was going up and it was no longer sustainable to operate there.  Sigh… another place in Hong Kong serving delicious food driven out of business by rising rent.

1 comment:

http://writedge.com/contact-dermatitis-scrotum-treatment-cream-how-to-stop-dry-scrotal-skin-itching-and-irritation/ said...

Pan fried prawns are the best. I could have some of those deep fried squid right now too.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map