Hong Kong Style rice porridge

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Another week of living off 20 dollars in groceries. Its starting to get really challenging because I wanted to get avocados but I knew I would be over budget. I wanted to get açai puree but I knew I would be over budget. I just had to tell myself “maybe next week.” Oh the temptation! This week I went over by $2.06. Not bad…I think its because of the chicken that I needed for my favorite margarita pasta recipe (will post that next week).

So here is what I bought this week:
Sprouts had an amazing 72 hour sale (Friday-Saturday):
1. Mom’s Best naturals Toasted Cinnamon Squares
2. 1 Gallon of 2% Milk
3. Roma tomatoes (1.29 for a pound)
4. Shredded cheddar cheese (1.30)
5. Grapes (0.88 per pound)
6. Chicken breast (really small portion for 2.83)
7. Pasta (1.50 each!)

Vietnamese market down the street from my place — I usually like buying meats here.
1. 1 pound of pork shoulder (1.99 per lb)
2. Pork neck bone (0.99 per lb)
3. Ginger (I only needed 1-inch of ginger. Don’t recall how much it was per pound but I was only charged 4 cents)
4. Dozen medium eggs (1.19)
5. Preserved duck egg

I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures of my grocery shopping trip. But just take my word for it folks.

I’m going post the congee recipe by popular demand. It’s called by many names throughout Asia — Chao (Vietnam), Jook (China), Lugao (Philippines), and more.

Anyways, I grew up eating this dish and I didn’t like it too much growing up. Maybe because my mom made it every week and my dad liked it and that was all he asked for. My boyfriend loves this dish. In fact, he tried to make it and I didn’t like the texture too much–too much rice. Then one night, my friend took me to a Hong Kong cafe in Alhambra. She told me her favorite dish was the rice porridge and I said “eh…really? I’m not too crazy about it because my mom always makes it. My boyfriend loves it and makes it. My boyfriend’s mom makes it too.” Then when the tilapia with preserved egg congee came in, I became a believer. It sounds like an unusual combination but its so good, it’s addicting! I guess it was the creamy texture and the preserved egg that bought me in.

A couple weeks later, I took my boyfriend to the same Hong Kong Cafe in Alhambra and ordered the tilapia with preserved egg congee to show him what it’s all about. He liked it too and I was trying to find out how this congee’s smooth and creamy texture.

After researching, it’s very easy — no blending or breaking rice required. It’s a very forgiving recipe so feel free to change the quantities. Also it’s very cheap to make.

Pork and Preserved Egg Congee

Ingredients:
2 cups of rice, rinsed
Oil
Salt
13 cups of water
1 lb of Pork (1.99 for 1 lb)
1 lb of pork bones (69 cents)
1-inch of ginger (4 cents)
4-6 preserved eggs (1.99)
Ground Pepper
Green Onions

1. Rinse rice and put rice in a container. Marinate rice with sesame (try other oils too if you don’t have sesame) oil and 1 tbsp of salt. Take your time.
2. In a stew pot of 13 cups of water put in pork, pork bones, and ginger and let it cook all the way through. This will be your pork stock. (Feel free to put chicken or beef stock).
3. After the pork cooks, take out the pork and cut it into small pieces and set it aside for later.
4. In the stew pot, let your pork stock reduce (to however you want). Add more salt to taste.
5. Take out the pork bones and discard.
6. Rinse your marinated rice with water and put it in the stew pot and let the rice cook. Take your time with this one. How the rice becomes so creamy and fine is that when the rice cooks in the stew pot, it pretty much get “overcooked” that it breaks itself. See? No blender needed.
7. After you get your desired texture, you can add more water to make it less sticky.
8. Add back your pork. Add quartered preserved eggs and let it heat up.
9. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
10. Add in green onions (I didn’t have a lot of green onions in my porch, so I used chives too).
11. Serve :-)

Feel free to add soy sauce or fish sauce or some sriracha :-).

Enjoy!!

Cost of ingredients: $4.71 (does not include rice, oil, salt, ground pepper, green onion).

Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

From Daily Post

April 2012

The first picture I took when I was going to South East Asia. First stop, a long layover at Hong Kong.

It’s the picture of the sunrise from the plane and we were about to land within an hour. I remembered that initial feeling of excitment and adventure mixed with refreshing and free — something I haven’t felt in a long time. I remembered the “rules” people told me…

Person A: don’t talk to anyone you don’t know.
Boyfriend’s sister-in-law: (snickers) she’ll have no one to talk to!
Me: you don’t know what you’re talking about!

Why are people who have never traveled before (or even left town for the weekend) giving me advice? When I was in the plane heading for Hong Kong, I thought “thank god I don’t have to listen to their rules being thousands of miles away.”

Compiling my South East Asia entries

It took me a while to get around making entries for every single city I visited but I DID IT!

So to make it more organized here it goes :-)

1) Hong Kong

I

II

III

IV

I wasn’t too crazy about Hong Kong. Wanted to leave early and head to Bangkok–which I did!

2. Bangkok

Ia, Ib

IIa, IIb

III

This city was so much fun! Wish I stayed longer! Didn’t get a chance to go to the floating markets though, a princess died the week of my arrival. Until next time Bangkok (and maybe explore a couple other cities in Thailand too!)

3. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Day one

Angkor Wat: A, B

Day two

Check out photobucket for more pictures!

4) Phnom Penh


I

II

We arrived here on Khmer New Year. Significantly less locals because they all went back to their hometown this time of year.
And this was how I learned avocados don’t grow abundantly in South East Asia.

More Phnom Penh Pics.

5) Sihanoukville


More at photobucket.

6) Chau Doc

Photobucket album

7) Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Photobucket Album

So here is the condensed list folks! Enjoy!

Think I got bitten by the travel bug–ouch!

Hong Kong IV

Miscallany in Hong Kong.

Here’s some appetizing pictures:

Pocari sweat? I’m going to guess this is an energy drink but it’s so clear maybe like Smart water. Was going to buy it before I left Hong Kong but it never crossed my mind.

A restaurant called “Yo Mama”.

Like…”Yo Mama cooks so…bad…”

ehh…Placenta???

I love shopping for beauty products but this isn’t one I’ll wildly go after…

That’s a book shelf laying along the ceiling at Honeymoon Desserts. Pretty cool!

Cute looking food!!

Pedestrian cross walk sign.

 

Oh yeah…it was Easter Weekend. Happy [late] Easter!

Hong Kong Part II

The food in Hong Kong was pretty disappointing. Couldn’t find any Chinese food. There were lots and lots of Japanese foods and Japanese influenced desserts. Lots of French influenced pastries, Italian food, and Vietnamese pho.

Looks really long and hard for some Chinese food but found only one.

In Hong Kong, there was also McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Subway pretty much everywhere I go.

To start, I’ll review the Vietnamese restaurants.

Why is the pho places so fancy? If you convert the prices from HKD to USD, the price of pho is about the same.

Yeah…my first official meal in HK was pho. Kept running all over HK to find some Chinese food for lunch but I got so hungry I needed some pho to fill me up fast.

Then when I walked to another shopping centre. I saw another Vietnamese restaurant.

Should take someone from Hong Kong and take them out for pho in San Jose. Definitely not fancy. Straws in Vietnamese places are considered a luxury anyways.

To be continued on food in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Part I

So…due to crazy circumstances, I don’t have my laptop anymore. It’s broken and I’m looking to see if I can have traveler’s insurance to cover me since my labtop is in my check-in luggage.

*sighs*

Anyways Hong Kong. Really gorgeous city. You pretty much can do a lot of the city in a day. Besides I was only there for a day. I’m not too crazy about Hong Kong though. I’ve never seen so many Chanel stores in one area square. I swear I saw three.

It’s pretty safe to walk alone at night but I highly HIGHLY don’t recommend getting any rooms from the Chung King mansions or the Mirador Mansions. The plus side is that it’s cheap and it’s close to all the sites and shopping in Hong Kong. The cons definitely outweigh the positives because there’s so many solicitors and shady characters around the building. I think my experience in Hong Kong would’ve been better if I were to put more money on a better hotel, maybe say an American chain hotel.

Things to do:

- shop (I love looking at Asian beauty products)

- go the museums

- people watch along the Hollywood Avenue and admire art

- walking around the subways (they seem safer than walking around the streets above ground)

- Taking the ferry and visit other islands

Dislike:

- It’s pricey — 13 dollars one way for a train from the airport to the city center of HK

- super crowded

- buildings were totally clusters

- when it rains (which happened the following day when I headed for Bangkok), there really isn’t that much to do :-(

- The tone of the city was grey throughout my stay. Not sure if it’s the smog or cloudiness but still rather depressing.

Anyways here’s some pictures:

Itinerary rough draft

So I’m going to China next year in the spring 2012 for two weeks and I made a rough itinerary for what to do in two weeks. Here’s the original itinerary from Lonely Planet Discover China:

And here’s my version:

It’s not final but here is my list and my wishes:

1. Shanghai – Actually I really don’t have a strong desire to go to Shanghai I just put it there so people won’t go “but you didn’t go to Shanghai?” Maybe just check out the Bund and the French concession and explore a bit before taking a sleeper train to Beijing. Like I said, I’m not too crazy about it.

2. Beijing – The city I’d probably spend the most time in. I’d like to do the following:

- Eat Peking duck

- Visit Peking University

- Go to the Great Wall

- Be a super model

- Go to Tiananmen Square – my Pekingnese friend (who is meeting up with me) told me she didn’t know what the big deal was with Tiananmen Square until she studied in the U.S.

3. Pingyao – It’s a small ancient town and it’s basically car-less town.

4. Xi’An – There are clay warriors and it’s the start of the Silk Road. Actually when creating the itinerary, I was thinking about doing a trip starting from Beijing and ending in Moscow.

5. Kunming – I want to try to squeeze in visiting the Yunnan Province because I’ve been hearing this place a lot. But I am not sure if I’m able to go either because the distance between Kunming and Guilin are pretty far.

6. Guilin – my coworker told me it’s a really pretty city. This is definitely going on my intinerary.

7. Hong Kong and Macau – My last stop. :-) I want dim sum and egg tarts and ride a boat.

Anyways this is my rough draft. I’ll still be editing later on. I’ll try to make a habit of posting something about traveling whether it’s about my trip or just traveling in general (especially on traveling solo) to help me whet my appetite to just go.

Also a great reminder that I have to keep saving. Speaking of saving, I’ll rant about how it’s possible to save without letting you say “my life sucks”.