October 6, 2012

Fish market feast, crabulous edition

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Not three days ago I had the misfortune of getting a dose of food poisoning on my first working day back in Hong Kong.  While the true culprit of my illness is anybody's guess between my breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack for that day, most people - including myself - would point the finger at a certain item containing chicken and cream sauce from a global chain of coffee shops.  I spent some 30 hours running a fever and shivering under blankets as my body reacted to the foreign substance that was trying its damnedest to invade my system.

I felt much better yesterday, and slowly went back to eating regular food.  By this morning, I felt that my appetite was back 100%, and just in time, too!  I had signed up for another seafood feast at the restaurant inside Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market (香港仔魚類批發市場).  Just had the lunch I participated in last year, this one was also organized by my friend KC.  Given my experience last year, I was really happy that I made it back to HK in time for the last session today, and looked forward to lots of yummy seafood.

By the time I arrived, the place was already packed, with the group occupying 6 tables and taking up majority of the space.  KC very kindly invited me to sit with his family so I would be in the company of one (or two) familiar faces.  Not surprisingly, there are certain perks that come with being at the organizer's table…

Blanched local Japanese tiger prawns (白灼生猛游水花竹蝦) - these looked absolutely beautiful.

Just as their Japanese name 車海老 implies, the bodies of these prawns resemble the wheels of a cart when they curl up.  Sweet to the taste while plump and bouncy on the bite.  What a great way to start off!

House specialty fish soup (本地雜魚老火湯) - just as delicious as when I had it last year.  Delicate flavors.  I don't think anyone could resist having a second bowl (or a third in some cases…)

A peek into all the good stuff that went into making the soup…

Deep-fried squid (椒鹽鮮魷) - with the combination of the texture as well as the batter, it doesn't get much better than this.

Deep-fried abalone (椒鹽鮑魚) - yum.

Manila clams in soup (油鹽水浸大花甲) - I didn't get around to ask about the specific type of clams, but they looked like big Manila clams with bright orange red feet.

Steamed humpback grouper (清蒸老鼠斑) - OK, so I lied or failed to stick to my promise last year when I said that I wasn't going to have this again.  I did.  As I noted this isn't on the World Wildlife Fund's "kosher" list, but it would not have been polite for me to refuse today.  Steaming was just a tad below perfection.

What happens when a fish meets a group of "Chinese piranhas"?

Steamed local lobster (蒜蓉開邊蒸本地龍蝦) - very sweet and delicious, with the right springy texture.  Plenty of delicious tomalley.     Scooping up the lobster's own juices and pouring it over the tail, together with minced garlic and chopped spring onions… just heavenly.

Steamed tilefish (蒸鹹鮮魚) - last time I was absolutely blown away by how fish was salted overnight to impart just the right amount of savory flavor while retaining most of the fresh and succulent tastes.  Today the kitchen used tilefish (馬頭魚), but seems to have over-salted them.  To me, these could not be taken without some rice or intermittent sips of soft drinks to balance things out.  The only disappointment of the day.

Steamed salted fish (蒸鹹魚) - this was a special treat for our table.  I didn't want to eat any rice so I only nibbled.  The perfume, of course, was unmistakable…

Mud crabs steamed with egg white (蛋白蒸爆羔蟹) - it was said that the main attraction here was the steamed egg white and not the tomalley, and the egg white was indeed very delicious.

I was very kindly offered a shell with tomalley and egg white, and after mixing it all together, this turned out to be a pretty sumptuous experience.

Chilled steamed flower crab Chiuchow-style (潮州凍花蟹) - another special order for our table, and I was privileged to share this 2 1/2-catty flower crab.

Deliciously chilled with a lovely balance between the savory flavors of the ocean and natural sweetness, the claws of this crab were pretty gigantic.

For some reason I skipped the blanched iceberg lettuce, and I was very glad that we didn't have fried rice or noodles coming.  The perfect ending for lunch came in the form of French toast (西多士). I never order these at cha chaan tengs (茶餐廳) in Hong Kong, so I don't know how others make it, but the little not-so-little cube that I dropped in my mouth was incredibly fluffy and ethereal.  As our table was next to the bar, I kept hearing the sound of eggs being beaten in a bowl… as more and more portions of these came out from the kitchen.  VERY nice.

I was completely satiated at the end of the meal, yet I didn't feel stuffed at all.  Very happy that I had my appetite back 100%.  Of course I am also thankful towards KC for organizing this lunch, and letting me intrude on his time with his family.


KC said...

So good to see you again in Hong Kong and really glad to know that you like the lunch today...and of course finally my son can meet you in person today...haha!

Peech said...

I'm so glad I finally got to meet your son! He's such a big boy and so cute!

Unknown said...

What a beautiful meal! The shrimp are especially -- love the description of "plump and bouncy."


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