Saturday, October 18, 2014

DIY Sous Vide Steak at Home (Without special equipment!)

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My favourite challenge for the uni assignment I did a while back was the one where I had to choose an unfamiliar cooking method. Because I couldn't think of much that I hadn't tried before, I decided to go all out, attempting sous vide.....without the machine. 

For those who do a bit of light food reading, you probably have heard of the beer cooler (esky) solution in which an esky is used for the water bath (apparently it does a great job at keeping water temperature stable) and ziploc bags for sous vide bags (it doesn't quite make a vacuum, but is close enough to do the job). Unfortunately, recounts of coolers looking misshapen after such experiments as well as official statements from the Ziploc bag company clarifying that their bags were not for use in high temperature environments scared me away, despite how genius it did sound.


Instead, I formulated my own solution, using sealable oven bags (designed for high temperature environments) to place the steaks in. It worked particularly well as the thin plastic seemed to stick to itself quite well, thus making its own 'psuedo-vacuum' if I may. For the warm water bath, I had a thermal cooker on hand, which is like a giant thermos.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Travel | What to Eat in Cheung Chau, Hong Kong

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Island Day Trip

Although I've visited Hong Kong numerous times through the years, I have rarely set foot on one of their many islands. Both because I'm not a huge fan of boat as a mode of transport, and also because the one time I do remember visiting an island (Lamma island), it consisted of countless hours of tiresome walking up and down hills. I wasn't really too keen on visiting another island until a couple of TV shows and stories from relatives who visited convinced us that there was plenty of good food and fun to be had at Cheung Chau, so we decided to make a day trip of it!



It always amazes me how convenient transport in HK is. Getting to Cheung Chau is simple- take a train ride to Central, short walk to the pier and then a half to an hour's ferry ride depending on which type you catch. The total trip takes less than the time it takes for me to get to uni, and costs around half as much as well. Oh Sydney transport...how I dislike you!

Drying Chickens in the Sun

The difference between the city and the islands is quite noticeable from the moment you leave the pier. It's a much more relaxed atmosphere, much less noise and much less crowds. Unfortunately, I can't say that the locals are too friendly, with an old lady screaming at us to move out of her way (who, might I add, was actually some 50m away from us) when we stopped to take a picture and the constant speeding of small trucks through the shared road without much warning than a hostile beep when you got too close. The shopkeepers were much more pleasant though!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Steamed Tapioca Layer Cakes (Banh Da Lon)

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We used to buy these steamed cakes from the Asian supermarket every once in a while- they were always cleverly placed near the checkouts so that whilst we were waiting in line, we'd be tempted by the bright colours of the many varieties available. My parents liked buying the nice round ones with red bean, but I liked the off cuts because it tasted the same, but you'd get a lot more than with the nicely shaped ones. They were always soft and chewy (unless we kept them for too long) with a fragrant pandan coconut taste but one packet was never quite enough for our family of four!

It took me a while, but I eventually managed to find the name of these cakes, and a recipe too! :) Turns out they're Vietnamese (although there's Indonesian/Malaysian versions as well, they're just not quite the same as the ones I used to have), and are made of tapioca, which gives them the nice chewy texture.
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