Hong Kong Local: Cult Recipes from the Streets that Make the City, written by ArChan Chan, features an incredible assortment of over 70 traditional and modern favorites from Hong Kong with the home cook in mind. A few highlights include Soy Sauce Chicken, Ngau Lei So (Sweet Chinese Doughnuts), Pei Dan Sau Yuk Juk (Congee with Lean Pork and Century Egg), Lau Sa Lai Wong Bao (Runny Salted Egg Yolk Bao), and Cheesy Lobster. I will also be sharing her recipe for Kong Sik Nai Cha (Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Smith Street Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
ArChan Chan grew up in Hong Kong and moved to Melbourne, Australia in 2008. She gained her degree in Culinary Arts at the William Angliss Institute and worked under chef Andrew McConnell (Cutler & Co., Golden Fields, and Supernormal) before becoming head chef and creating a Hong Kong influenced modern Chinese menu for Ricky & Pinky at the Builders Arms Hotel. She is now executive chef at LeVeL33 in Singapore. This is ArChan’s first cookbook.
Hong Kong Local
ArChan begins with a short introduction into the cuisine of Hong Kong and influences over its history. I especially love the included cultural notes that focus on specific components of the food such as Cha Chaan Teng (Hong Kong-style local café), Yum Cha and Dim Sum, Tong (soup), Siu Mei (Cantonese Barbecue), different types of noodles, and mealtime guides.
The chapters are divided into three parts based on time of day: Early, Mid, and Late. There is also a section on basic recipes and a glossary with descriptions of common ingredients found in Hong Kong Cuisine.
The photography is provided by Alana Dimou. I love the added touch of the fun illustrations scattered across the pages. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a full-page photo, generally of the finished dish. You will also find beautiful photos of the city’s scenery and people as well. Titles are written in romanized Cantonese and English. Measurements are listed in grams and ounces. Each recipe includes a headnote with background information, helpful tips, and serving size.
Kong Sik Nai Cha (Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea)
I had such fun learning how to make Kong Sik Nai/Lai Cha (港式奶茶, Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea) at home! This strong, flavorful drink is made with a blend of English Breakfast, Ceylon Orange Pekoe, and Earl Grey tea simmered in water for 20 minutes, steeped for another 10, then served with evaporated milk and sugar to taste.
The tea is also known as 絲襪奶茶 (Si Mat Lai Cha) or Silk-Stocking Milk Tea due to the technique of straining the tea over and over through a fine cloth. This dyes the cloth a brown color similar to a silk stocking. Can’t choose between coffee or tea? You can combine them to make 鴛鴦 (Yuenyueng).
I went with ArChan’s recommendation and paired the Milk Tea with Black & White evaporated milk. It is available in certain grocery stores or on Amazon.
I also made the Coconut Tarts, Prawn Toasts, Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry, and Tong Yuen (Glutinous Rice Balls with Black Sesame).
The Coconut Tarts are a delicious little pastry made with a shortcrust base filled with a sweetened shredded coconut mixture and baked until golden. They are on the easier side compared to egg tarts and a great primer before jumping into all the fun pastries in the book.
Prawn Toasts are another quick favorite. Slices of white bread are topped with a seasoned prawn (shrimp) mixture, fried until golden, then served with spring onion and mayonnaise/ketchup on the side. Half of the prawns are finely chopped while the other half are more roughly chopped to create more of a contrast in texture.
The Tomato and Egg Stir-Fry is a flavor-packed meal that comes together in only a few minutes. Gently scrambled eggs are tossed with seasoned tomatoes and onions and serve over a bed of hot rice. The balance of flavors in the sauce was perfect.
I have tried Tong Yuen (Glutinous Rice Balls) a few times with peanuts, but this was my first time making them with the black sesame filling. They were so good! Black sesame seeds are toasted, then ground and mixed with sugar and butter. After chilling until firm, they are divided into balls and used as the filling for a glutinous rice flour dough. The Tong Yuen are simmered in water until cooked through and served in a brown sugar soup.
Hong Kong Local is a great pick for those interested in the cuisine of Hong Kong. There is such a wonderful variety of recipes for any time of day with a wide range of difficulty levels. Many come together quickly within 30 minutes, while others like the Daan Taat (Egg Tarts), Salted Baked Chicken, and Put Chai Go (Red Bean Puddings in Little Bowls) take a bit more planning ahead.
Having a market nearby with Southeast Asian ingredients will be helpful in locating items such as Shaoxing rice wine, century egg, alkaline water, glutinous rice flour, dried shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, wheat starch, custard powder, yellow rock sugar, choy sum, Chinese yellow chives, dried red beans, glass noodles, Sichuan peppercorns, and more.
Kong Sik Nai Cha (Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea) Recipe
Excerpt from Hong Kong Local
Kong Sik Nai Cha (Hong Kong-Style Milk Tea)
- 5 bags English Breakfast tea
- 5 bags Ceylon Orange Pekoe tea
- 3 bags Earl Grey tea
- 300 milliliters (10 fl oz) evaporated milk preferably Black & White brand
- 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) caster (superfine) sugar or to taste
- Pour 1.5 liters (1 1/2 quarts) water into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat.
- Add the tea bags, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside for 10 minutes.
- If you want to go all out, strain the tea from a height through a fine cloth a few times. (Traditionally you strain it from a height so the water pressure extracts more of the tea flavour, while the fine cloth catches the tannins and impurities.)
- Pour evaporated milk into each cup into it is one-quarter full, then pour in the tea (the golden ratio is one part evaporated milk to three parts tea).
- Add sugar to taste and enjoy the moment.