Gourmet Trip

Five Days Gourmet Trip -Culinary Exchange Tour
from Catherine's diary
40 participants from Malaysia and our neighbouring country, Singapore visited Guang Zhou, Dongguan, Poonyee, Hong Kong for a gastronomic trip. 12 other participants from Hong Kong joined us at a later stage in Guang Zhou.

It was no mean feat, planning for the above trip but the overwhelming response received, surpassed all the taxing tasks. The main organizer had to place all remaining participants on the waiting list for a future gourmet trip in December. Our local group had a total of 40 participants and another 12 from Hong Kong who will meet up with us in Guang Zhou.

1/9/2002 - A day prior to departure, we were invited to a Bon-Voyage dinner at Loon Sing Restaurant, Nilai. After a warm reception, we were served dinned. The list of appetizers included a four-variety dish. Jellyfish with red glutinous rice wine residue, was served with Soo Zhou Ku-Tien Cake, Teochew braised duck and Jelly Sharksfin curd.

Our next course was a fresh abalone delicacy followed by the popular soup, Monk jump over the wall. Taste was a precise wonder. Dong-Po meat was served with steamed buns and next-in-line was the Superior Fookchow meat balls. The next entry was Braised turnip with scallops. We were nearly filled to the brim but everyone was attracted to these little goodie bags. It was hemp strings woven baskets containing Fried glutinous rice. We ate heartily and had little room for the nice dish of Spicy and sourish sea cucumbers. The final curtain came down as a special dessert was presented. Each person had a tureen of Boiled hasma, dried longans and peanut stuffed glutinous rice balls, which we all thoroughly enjoyed.

We left with a happy heart and an extremely contented stomach. On a lighter note, it was a memorable evening of wonderful food, good conversation flowed and many new friendship nurtured.

Day 1 - 2/9/2002

Early morning, we joined fellow participants for the flight to Guang Zhou from KLIA, by Malaysian Airline System. Departed at 9.30a.m. and the total time taken was 3 hours 35 minutes. With excitement, we anticipated what was in store for us.

A luxurious coach ferried us direct from the airport to this Guang Zhou famous Sar-hor-fun restaurant, established since 1954. We savoured the remarkable Bai-Yun pig's trotters. This dish had the trotters blanched, pickled in a white vinegar and sugar solution. The result was a tangy, sweetish, crunchy textured meat. We had a serious brew of chicken soup and it was a perfect match.

Signature dishes continued to roll in. A special Ching Yean chicken was prepared and this was a winner. It is a range of chicken well-known for its sweet meat as the birds are fed on first-grade corn. Red-cooked tender bamboo shoots was presented. It was unique as it has no bitter taste at all.

The fame of this restaurant ride on their four varities of sar-hor-fun. We began with a fire-coloured hor-fun and then moved onto another one, named three shredded varities hor-fun. The later was made from various vegetable like por choy, carrots and sweet potatoes.

The next two varieties came in the form of Fish-flavoured Vegetable's Juice Hor-Fun and Bitter gourd minced Chicken Hor-Fun. The noodles had this transparency and a chewy texture unlike the normal limpy stuff. According to our participant, Mr.Ting from Sarawak, who specializes in noodle making, he guessed the rice grains have to be aged for at least one year before milling and blending it with fine, soft, river water to obtain this texture. There is no room to debate why a restaurant close to half a century is still in action. We thanked them for the lovely reception received.

It was close to 3pm after the wonderful hor-fun meal. The coach took us to Dongguan, a journey one hour away. The China tour guide, Mr.Liang described the local scenery to us. We were placed in a 4-star hotel for the night. Dinner would be served at 7pm in the hotel's restaurant itself.

At dinner time, it was a five tables affair as our Hong Kong participants have arrived too. I went one step further and had a privilege of a sneak-preview of what goes on behind the kitchen. The main chef was in boisterous action commanding his juniors in a bustling cooking act. It was a noisy settlement as I observed the sound of non-stop chopping, plates dragging, food siggling. I returned to my seat and noticed everyone was feeling refreshed after a short rest.

Let the tasting begin. A glistening dish of crispy suckling pig was served with condiments of century egg slices and preserved young ginger. These complimented the pork perfectly. We had the next serving of ham, fresh lotus in a melon pot. The next presentation was baked Gui-Hua sparrows with ginger and spring onion. This tasted very much like miniature pigeons. Stir-fried lamb with red dates and peanuts were served. Surprisingly, it has no gamy taste and the vibrant flavours flowed through.

The highlight of the meal was the Xun Long fish. This particular fish first made its appearance on the NTV7 series 'Happily Ever After', aired early this year, 2002. It is a protected species and is breed in a unique combination of freshwater and river-mouth salt water.

The fish body is rather transparent and even the soft bones are edible. Master David Tsui skillfully filleted the flesh which was stir-fried with vegetable juice, leaving the head and belly portion steamed. It was delicious as it's texture was wonderful. This is what you would call combing the globe for delicious treats.

Not feeling adventurous enough, many people opted out for the next dish. You can list this under China's strange food as we were served Baked Padi Maggots with eggs. I tried a little and felt it was like eating fish intestine. Well, this was considered to be a delicacy. One man's repulsion is another man's dinner.

The carving master had artfully carved a pumpkin, hollowing the centre. In it's place was some wild game meat. After savouring the contents, you can use a spoon to scoop up the sweet pumpkin flesh.

Yunnan ham, bamboo piths were braised together with baby Chinese white cabbages. It was nothing much to shout about but the dessert made up for this. Cheesy puffs were a real delight. It is guaranteed to satisfy even the most discriminating palate. After dinner, Chef Tsui held a question and answers forum. This was a rare chance to have a chef with such a sharing attitude, imparting his knowledge to society. We left the restaurant in an exuberant mood as everyone enjoyed an evening of gratifying superb Chinese cuisine. It may be a 4-star hotel but the food served, deserved a 5-star rating.

Day 2 (3/9/2002)

The scene is set, after breakfast at Dongguang's hotel. We, the nomads had to move on again. Our coach ferried us to catch glimpses of Fumen Bridge, Ling Zhenxu Muzium, Opium War Musuem, a shopping spree for clothes at a huge retailer's centre.
The famous Bones Restaurant at Poonyee's Clifford Foodcourt

The lunch date at Poonyee's Clifford Foodcourt had us debating on what will it be? The rather Western incorporated name of the foodcourt had nothing to do with what was in store. This is the famous Bones Restaurant. Nothing classically delicate. Fascinatingly, a pile of 10 inches lengthy pig's bones were served. It is no standing joke as ringing peals of laughter were heard everywhere. No one had an idea on how to begin, if not for the kind foresight of waiters who handed us sets of transparent gloves. Our travelling companions had a jolly good time, brushing away all social etiquette as we digged into the various types of bones served. I was made to understand the difficult process in extracting the mass layers of soft, lean meat in between the tendons. This meat was further braised in a special gravy for two hours. Wait till you hear this! This gravy consisting of a fair range of herbs, fragrant leaves, nutmeg, cinnamon barks, mandarin peels, is an-aged marinade of nothing less than two years. Like fine wine, the more matured it is, the better it gets. This is not the end to the bony story yet. Huge bones eaten were taken to the kitchen-yard to be hacked into halves. Each patron had a big drinking straw to sip, slurp, gulped down the marrow extracts. Robust shouts of 'Yam Seng' were exchanged. I am sure I am drinking in a healthy concoction of calcium and iron nutrients. The next splendid fare was the Roasted Rack of Ribs and it was a thumbs up selection. I am sharing this sound bite tip with everyone, this Bones Restaurant is truly a viand for any food writers or gourmet lovers. It serves as an eye-opener to what others would have discarded, they serve such redolent concotions and the surprises never cease.

It was nearly 2p.m. after the wonderful lunch. We adjourn to a foot reflexology centre where our tired and sore feet were pampered. The masseuses immersed our feet in a warm, herbal foot-bath. Soothing traditional music played on. It was a relaxing moment to de-stress. After a two hours of foot pampering, we felt glowingly refreshed.

White Swan Hotel, a very luxurious place was arranged for our night's rest. The bathroom faucets were seemingly gold plated. We felt like big lords surrounded with trappings of gold.

Awards winning Chef Aw Kam Wo of Regent Pearl (centre), Catherine & Chef Sia Say Tee.
Dinner at Regent Pearl was imparted by awards winning Chef Aw Kam Wo. It was a frenzy night for the local media who had been kept waiting-at-bay for our entourage's arrival. They had their assignment to write and this was the moment. Chef Aw and our Malaysian Food Ambassador, Chef Sia Say Tee of Loon Sing Restaurant, Nilai were encumbrance in formal introductory customs, promotional programmes. This cordial link boosts a bridge adjoining the China and the Malaysian food culture ties.

The waiting game was over. The simply irresistible Wah-Wah fish was presented. This dish has been double-boiled for six hours with herb, Tien-mah, (Rhijoma Gastrodia Elatabi) ribs, chicken meat and feet. This is a protected species and only three restaurants in the whole nation are provided with a licence to sell this fishy dish. This fish has a beastly look but a beauty to savour. It is what one can call it beauty and the beast in a single form!

Yunnan minature cucumbers were stir-fried with sliced camel's hump. Don't fret, it tastes like dried cuttlefish. Not so pleasing dishes was presented, another rustic dish of fried goose intestines did not go down well with generally everyone. We felt a slight disappointment with the fare. Half of the battle could have been won, if Chef Aw had cooked up a storm on his house specialities of abalones (pronounced as aba-loh-nees). This was not the treat we had pinned our hopes on.

Day 3 (4/9/2002)

Special Sauna Prawns of DaKeYi Restaurant, Guang Zhou
Lunch was served at DaKeYi restaurant. The two young chefs cum restaurateurs have visited Malaysia many times. They showed us their special skill acquired from Malaysia at making roti chanai. It was a flying magic carpet to their own country man.

A speacial cooking material was heated up with river stones. Meat was roasted on this hot bed and so did the drunken prawns and fish. The stones were heated to a temperature of 200 for 2-3 hours. They were moved to a clay casserole and in goes all the ingredients, salt, beer or stock. Cover the pot, reposing them in a hot sauna bath. There is a danger here as the stones can crack up at times due to the intense heat. Hairy crabs were in season and we feasted on them. Fresh abalones were delicious but nothing can replace the freshness and quality of a good river fish simply steamed. The chicken marinated with a right combination of a special gravy proves good. Thirteen days old pigeons were grilled to a crunchy, crisp. The steps in preparing this dish was supervised under very strict stringent sequence. Don't expect too much emphasis on ambience in Chinese restaurants but I am impressed by these two young men's business philosophy and their pro-active approach in the day-to-day running of an eatery. They are swiftly aware of how a dish should look and taste at its best. At constant times, they are virtually adapting to keeping a food art alive.

Unforgettable Man Han Quan Xi meal
One of the exceptional feature of today is the intense moment of attending an Imperior Court meal. This is a feast recorded in history during the reign of Emperor Chien Lung of the Qing Dynasty, who was born a Manchurian. In order to maintain peace between his keepers and China's counterpart, what could be better than cultural influence spells on the gastronomic front in the form of a huge banquet. This was named as 'An Exchange of Manchurian and Chinese Culture'. Comprising 108 dishes and a feasting that lasted three days, everything edible from land, sea or fresh water was sourced and combined cooking tecniques like braised, stewed, deep-fried, stir-fried, simmered,roasted were all recorded.

Waiters wore chifu, imperial court attendants' garments ushered us in with shouts of, 'Here comes the king and queen!' Oh yes, we do feel majestic for that split second. It was a thrilling moment. Waitresses clad in the old court long flowing cheongsams served us a glass of wine each. Longevity ginsheng soup was the order in range. The four varieties appetizer followed.

Abalone was braised with fish maws and the dish, Peach of Immortality consisted of walnuts, paddy frogs and crabmeat. Next course was fresh scallops with deep-fried crab pincers. The highlight had arrived, it was a crispy suckling pig, a delectable crackling sensation. Deer's tail and duck was double-boiled into a delicious soup. Grouper Haddock fish was steamed, complimented with carrots, cured ham and pickled Szechuan mustard shreds. Next on roll was a top-notch delicacy. Heavenly mushrooms, goose webbed-feet, green turtle, sea cucumbers, chicken wings were fused together in a satisfying manner. A superior vegetarian dish of Shanghai flat cabbages, baby corns, bamboo pith, black moss, mushrooms and button mushrooms were themed together. This was rather refreshing. The Emperor's rice had scallops, fresh prawns and chicken meat. Last but not least, no great meal is complete without desserts. There is a grain of truth that traditionally, desserts do take a backseat to other courses and are never seen as the highlight. We had Hasma with egg flip, sweet buns, sweet jellies and a platter of locally grown fruits.

Though we had no chance to sample the full range of 108 dishes but as we are an immigrant society, food forms a big part of our history, our culture. We are glad to have come this far to continue to explore the food legacy.

Day 4 (5/9/2002)

Dim-Sum, these literally translate, 'dainty-morsels that touch your hearts', really did touched mine. We had a treat of these snacks at the breakfast tables before our departure from Guang Zhou to Hong Kong. This was at Dao Xiang Restaurant where you eat to your content on their Fragrant Steamed Prawn Patties, Flaky Pastry Minature Egg Tarts, Mock Vegetarian Chitterings, Honey Sauce Char-Siew Buns. Trendy attraction is Flaky Pastry Tarts Encased With Aromatic Radish Shreds. It is deep-fried but is so light and crispy. The filling is real sweet and moist.

After this 'yum-char' session, we were taken to explore a suburb, brimming with wholesale tea leaves establishments. The assortment of Oo-Loong, Loong-Jing, Jasmine and hundreds more superior varieties left me in a dazzle. International tea merchants mingled with tourists with one common interest, purchasing fine tea. Our tour guide had a difficult time trying to congregate everyone to board the coach. Frankly, everyone was caught up with the 'tea-fever' not being able to resist temptations, shopping for more tea treasures.

Lunch at Xin Xing Restaurant was a welcome change for those who want something substantial. It was a fulfilling meal of mountain goat. The meat is actually quite low in cholesterol, opposed to what many thought! This restaurant had a good rating written by Hong Kong famous food critic, Choy Lan. Other dishes of lamb were served. We savoured White Steamed Lamb, Casserole Of Lamb Meat Balls, Crispy Nuts Lamb Chops, Dried Rose Petals With Baby Lamb, Braised Lamb's Ears, Stewed Lamb's Belly and an Assorted Dish Of Lamb Delights. It was surprisingly easy to handle as the meat had no strong, gamey taste.

Mr. Hugo Leung Man To (centre), Catherine & Chef Sia Say Tee.
Our Journey to Hong Kong continued and we reached Kowloon in the early evening. Our hotel had an unparalleled view of the 'Fragrant Harbour'. The Harbour Plaza Hotel, owned by the local tycoon, Mr. Lee Kah Sing was posh. Dinner arranged in Yuen Long, New Territories would be headed by no ordinary chef but by Mr. Hugo Leung Man To, who makes appearances on Hong Kong television gourmet series, stands at under five feet and has a waistline of 42 inches. He commands good respect in the culinary circle and had us enthralled with his vast knowledge on the 'Walled Village Food'. Mr. Leung runs Tai Wing Wah Restaurant, designed a premier menu for Hong Kong Chief executive Mr. Tung Chee-Hwa, to commemorate his official position. We tried thsi menu and I can describe it as 'once eaten, forever smitten'. Would you believed this, the most unforgettable dish is Plain Steamed Rice Smothered With Lard. Strange, but the flavours lingers on long after.

Plain Steamed Rice Smothered With Lard
Mr. Leung does not compromise on freshness of ingredients, correct flame control and of course clever cooking skills.

Day 5 (6/9/2002)

The famous Porky Buns
The enterprising Hong Kong Tourist Association had helped to coincide our breakfast at Macau Restaurant, owned by one of the wives of Macau Casino King, Stanley Ho. his is a special arrangement as they generally do not serve breakfast. Located in busy Tsimshatsui, it serves the famous Porky Buns. Their record was a whopping sale of 2,000 buns in a single day. Later, we had a little time to breeze through this fascinating shopping area. We wandered around, gawking at fantastic shops. Oh yes, we tried the famous Sham Tseng Roast Goose for lunch, recognised as an oriental delicacy. It was time to go home as we bade adieu to Hong Kong.

Thanks to Mr. Sia of Restoran Loon Sing Sdn Bhd, Nilai, who with his sense of adventure and appreciation of good food had detailed out a good itinerary for gourmets. From food to entertainment, another big thank you to Mar Sin Thai Travel & Tours Sdn Bhd for their coordination. Everyone in the programming team had translated the visual of a food trip into a real vision.

Join us on another highlight, sometime, somewhere.


A Trip To Hatyai, Thailand.

by Catherine Chia

In early September, 2003, we tried to make some bookings to visit Hatyai. The only available tour had rather poor conditions as the bus was a shabby one and accomodation in some budget hotels. No thanks, I do not want to sound snooty or snobbish but a little comfort zone can go a long way. Later, we decided to check on the internet with Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel, Novotel Central Sukontha and The Regency Hotel. The latter confirmed our booking of a two nights stay at a rate of 1,700 bahts (RM170.00) daily. The tour coach ticket purchased from the counter at the former Kuala Lumpur Railway Station was priced at RM80.00 per person, one way. All arrangements reconfirmed, I am pretty sure I should be able to hunt down some cheap but good food finds as my underlying philosophy.

5/9/2003 (Friday)

It was 11 p.m. when we left Kuala Lumpur in this comfortable double-decker coach. This mode of transport lives up to it’s name of Nice 2 as seats were spacious and well uphoistered. Service was good as we were served mineral water and dim-sum as a late night snack. Clean blankets were handed out to make us feel snug as the air-conditioner was rather cold. Though lights were dimmed, you can switch on your reading light to catch up with some reading or watch the latest 'in-flight movies’. Some passengers who felt bored, descended to the lower compartment for a cuppa and sang at the Karaoke cubicle.

6/9/2003 (Saturday)

Eight hour later, we arrived at their local destination as the border post of Sadao was seen. Loads of tourists intermingled with the locals as it was a sea of chaos. But our couch attendant did all the documents processing for us as there is less red tape for travellers like us. This was totally unexpected as service had improved and the authorities kept their cool with the least minimum of fuss.

Hatyai is the third largest city in Thailand behind Bangkok and Chiangmai. The geographical position of lying in the southern part of Thailand makes it fairly accessible to Malaysians and Singaporeans who pop across the border during holidays for an unparalleled shopping outing.

We have not been to Hatyai for almost two years. Were there any visible changes? As the coach entered the city, we glanced on every side. Things are just the same as on this area stands Novotel Cebtral Sukontha. It was only eight a.m. and our room at the hotel, The Regency, is just across the street. The routine check-in was done and after a quick washup, we started the day with breakfast at this little stall near the hotel. Apparently, this foodie stall has been around for 15 years, selling duck noodles and porridge. Our order of rice noodles came shortly with braised sauce. The bowls were each filled with some cooked chicken meat, egg, spare-ribs, meat ball, fish fillet, coriander leaves and a sprinkling of diced spring onions. Fish sauce was drizzled on top and an extra topping of ground chilly powder, sugar, lime juice, chilly padi was strewn around. We tossed it well and took a bite. Can this not be delicious with such an amazement of ingredients.

We strolled around town, near the BP hotel area and saw a little stall with a huge, white plastic signboard. Red Thai letterings were splattered all over it. I approached the owner, only too glad he could converse in broken Cantonese. An Ipoh boy at birth, he has made Hatyai his home, years ago. The signture dish is “Deep-fried Lou Mei”. Literally translated, it is deep-fried braised meat and offals. He had introduced a better menu to regulars by adding eggs and seafood. We tried this meat portion dunked into a batter and deep-fried to a crisp morsel. Little did we knew the degree of hotness in his chilly sauce. It was fiery and burnt our tongues. Richard scrambled to the next stall to purchased two fresh coconut drinks. The sweet juice managed to ward off the spicy effects.

Small travel agent booths are popular here as they sprout like mushrooms everywhere. We discussed about the short trips listed on the boards but a loud voiced Darin, caught our attention. This lady, a local Thai, had talked us into joining a day trip group to visit the tunnel tomorrow. We felt compelled to book the tour with her constant driving force. We felt Darin should know of good, non-touristy stalls for a good meal. She recommended us to visit the Wat Che Chang, an area near the temple where there is always a large display of food selections. Business commences from three p.m. to midnight so we made a vow to be there later, tonight.

I may have been here umpteen times but still it thrills me to shop, wine, dine and window-shop. My most adored stimulation is a good, traditional massage. While many tourist ghettos offered massage sessions at a dime a dozen, I am not into such seedy joints. As I sought the youthful but experienced masseuse at the hotel we stayed in for a beautiful theraphy rubdown, Richard joined me for the same relaxation. The correct strokes applied on my body soothed away aches and untangled all painful knots. They applied very good pressure on us but managed to maintain a nice gentle level. Good things always come to an end too soon. The charge was 200 bahts (RM20.00) per person.

Before nightfall, we proceeded by motorized tut-tut vehicle to the stalls recommended by Darin. The hawkers street was a good choice as the platter of flavours were coming from the Thai-style fried rice noodle, grilled pork satay, pig’s trotter rice, oysters omelette, bbq seafood, kuih-muih, fruit smoothies, drinks and desserts. Everything is so tempting so we started with a bowl of black sesame seed glutinous rice balls topped with gingko nuts and ginger syrup. This is supposed to ward off windy tummies. The next stall run by a Teochew-speaking lady had a good plate of rice noodles fried for us. Her ingredients consisted of bean sprouts, dried shrimps, taukwa, egg, chives, chilly paste, sugar, fish sauce and a final topping of toasted mung beans powder. The owner had gone through great lengths to ensured it tasted good.

Pig’s trotter rice in Hatyai is as common as chicken rice in Kuala Lumpur. You order a plate of white rice which comes with a good drizzle of braised sauce. Trotters are generally cooked with garlic, soy sauce to a certain degree of softness but retaining the springy bite. Plates of condiments were served together, like sweetish pickled mustard shreds, braised eggs, oyster sauced kai lan, coriander leaves. Fantastic taste at a very affordable price. This is in our note book, it is worth checking out this stall again the next time we come to Hatyai.

Pork satay, from thigh meat was well marinated with spices and herbs. Our own conventional satay is normally basted with a piece of bruised lemon grass dipped in cooking oil. But here pandan leaves are knotted into a brush and dipped into a solution of diluted coconut milk. The pork satay was brushed constantly with the coconut milk, resulting in an aromatic snack minus the normal oily taste. Usual side dishes comprised of sliced cucumbers, chilly padi, onion shreds, pickled achar and peanut chilly sauce. It was 20 baths (RM2.00) for 10 skewers of satay. Cheap, cheap, cheap. The or-chien or oysters omelette had only a thin batter of egg unlike the ones normally served in Kuala Lumpur. The omelette had thumb-sized oysters oozing out, the dip was a good home-made chilly sauce. Prices ranged from 30 bahts to 100 bahts (RM3.00 to RM10.00). We had refreshing lemon drinks to accompanied the meal. Tonight, we had spent only 200 bahts (RM20.00) for the complex dishes. That is pretty good value as all foods simply bursted with flavour.

The night was beautiful so we decided to walk back to the hotel, Midway, we bumped into a hawker selling the ever-famous Thai dessert, Mango With Glutinous Rice. Our gluttonous nature made us stopped to savour this dessert. Glutinous rice was well steamed with a springy texture and the diced, whole mango was sweet. This proper Thai version had the toasted mung beans sprinkled on top before drenching it with thick coconut cream. Priced at only 40 bahts (RM4.00) this amount is probably what I have to pay for a single mango back home in the markets.

7/9/2003 (Sunday)

Departed hotel in the morning for the trip to Songkhla’s Natawee District. The journey took one hour 15 minutes and we were taken on a tour of the Khao Nam Khang Historical Tunnel. Built in 1972 by the then, Communist Party of Malaya, it was completed two years later. Numerous unsuccessful interventions and political combats, they finally surrendered. The days of political unrest was over and the deserted tunnel was reopened as a suggested route for tourists to visit. The tunnel may seemed pretty compact but it had accomodated a host of functions. It used to house an office, a conference area, beds, washrooms, kitchen, food cellar, and a telegraphy room. We listened to the horrible ordeals suffered and the repentance story told by the former members, Mr. Leong and Mr. Phang. A little restaurant nestled amongst the hills served us a simple lunch. The three dishes were Yam with Braised Meat, Traditional-Style Fried Kampong Chicken, Fried Vegetable. A herbal chicken soup was enjoyed by all.

Coming back to Hatyai town, I had another shopping spree buying local products and ended up with another massage. With so much of food activities and walking, this was a good excuse for a nice rubdown. Richard did the same and felt refreshed.

8/9/2003 (Monday)

The Nice 2 tour coach departed early for Kuala Lumpur. Hatyai, synonymous with shopping, cheap buys, delicious food, has a lot to offer to tourists in terms of their arts, Thai sports, national parks, trekking, golfing, farming, off-shore islands, waterfalls beaches. Two days a trip is too short for us to sample every dish but it is memorable. Bye-bye Hatyai, you are a part of the Land of Smiles.



蚝也称为牡蛎(mu li),是一种史前已经存在的双贝壳软体动物。蚝的种类超过100种,分布在世界各地的海床及海岸线。











The Oyster is a bivalve mollusk that has existed since prehistoric times. More than 100 species live in colonies natural beds and banks that are to be found in most parts of the world.

During the summer, an oyster lays about 500 million eggs in the water to be fertilized by the male's sperm. Soon after that, a pinhead sized larva swims around and hatch in about ten hours. In two days shells begin to form and two weeks later pea sized "spat" sink to the bottom. Living on its hollowed out shell, the oyster grows one inch a year. Adults can live to be ten years old and reproduce billions of times. Many marine creatures eat oysters, including whelks and sea stars. Humans consume it either in fresh or dried forms. With so many predators of the oysters, only about one in a million spat will survive.

Oysters that are sold live should smell briny-fresh, and look bright and clean. Shells should be tightly closed (so that you can't pull them apart), or should close tightly when the shell is tapped; don't buy oysters with open shells. Freshly shucked oysters should be submerged in their own clear liquid (called liquor).

When you buy oysters, it is imperative to keep them alive till you are ready to cook them or serve them. Live oysters can be stored in the refrigerator, covered with wet kitchen towels or paper towels. The key is to keep them truly cold: if possible, at 0°C to 2°C (32°F to 35°F). Within that range, oysters should keep (in a live state) for about four to seven days. Be sure to remove any that die (look for open shells) during that period so they do not contaminate the remaining oysters. Do not put them in an airtight container or submerge them in fresh water, or they will die.

Shucked oysters should be kept in tightly covered containers, immersed in their liquor; they, too, should keep for up to a week. They should keep for two months if the freezer is set at -20°C(0°F) or colder. Be sure to thaw frozen oysters in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.

Oyster wonder

In the 1st century, no Roman orgy was complete without huge platters of oysters. The ancient Romans served large quantities of oysters at their banquets and learned to cultivate them. They have a long history of nourishing the human race, and have been a prized food since the pre-Christian era. Few foods can compare with oysters in terms of their nutritional value. The oyster is a well balanced nutritious food, rich in minerals such as zinc and iron, as well as vitamins A, B1, B2 and C.

Oysters are among the few shellfish that people of the world still eat alive and raw. In countless stories and legends throughout history, Oysters have been the base for Love potions. A common cause of impotence in men is zinc deficiency and the richest animal source of zinc of course Oysters. American health guidelines suggest that 15mg of zinc be included in the male diet, the British average is ony 8mg.

Oysters are also a source of Dopamine - a vital neurotransmitter which helps govern brain activity. It provokes sexual interest and triggers responses, while improving performance in both males and females. It is also said to amplify the intensity of sensation.

Health Tip: Because raw foods including oysters may carry bacteria, persons with chronic liver disease, impaired immune systems or cancer should avoid eating raw oysters.


鱼翅、 骨 翅、斋翅







Genuine Sharksfins
Artificial Or Vegetarian Sharksfins

The "Treasures of the sea" are the four most highly-prized delicacies in Chinese cuisine. Abalones, sea cucumbers, sharksfins and fish maws are arranged in this order. These are all considered to be true gourmet items as besides health-enriching qualities, they come with a range of beliefs steeped in symbolism and good meanings like bountiful harvests, prosperity and good wishes for life ahead. But auspicious meanings apart, the delicacies are a treasure trove for health too.

Each Lunar New Year, Y3K Recipes have showered readers with recipes using the delicacies. In this issue, sharksfin is the specially chosen feature as we go a little in-depth.

Sharksfins are obtained from a variety of sharks which inhabit the Indo-Pacific Oceans, Sri Lanka, South China and so forth. It can be quite a tedious task to extract the fins. Dried, processed fins are easily available at supermarkets, Chinese shops that offer traditional delicacies or even at herbal shops. On the other hand, many shops sell the non-processed fins as the costs are relatively cheaper. This product needs a series of treatments before it is soft and edible. Prices of each grade escalates according to their quality. The general three types of fins are the dorsal (back), the pectoral (side) and caudal (tail) with the dorsal fins taking the top stand in premium quality. Pectoral fins are considered to be slightly inferior. To remove the ligaments from the skin and flesh, the fins have to be cooked, braised, soaked, washed under running tap water and redone several times before approval is met. Please leaf through page 73 on the cleaning process of smaller pieces of fins. The complexity normally arises with the big fins as it has to be cooked in huge pots of boiling water for an hour to two, over low heat. Once the flame has being turned off, it has to sit in the pot till the water has cooled down naturally. Next the fins are placed over a huge pot of boiling water, ready to be steamed for anther three to four hours. After this softening step, a knife is used to scrape off any unwanted materials. Leave cleaned sharkfins in the third pot of boiling water. Add in some slices of ginger and several stalks of spring onion. Bring it to another boil over high heat for one to two hours. Fishy odours can be eliminated, remove fins to cool. Separate the ligaments from the bones, wash it once again and the final product is the golden delicacy of sharksfins. It can be used directly for cooking soups or kept frozen for a period.

Please pay attention to the following tips if you intend to prepare this highly-prized delicacy from scratch. No cold water should be used for boiling the fins as all waters have to be at a boiling point when you lower the fins in. it needs no stirring at all times and refrain from using cast iron or copper pots. A chemical reaction may cause leaching into the fins. Stainless steel or claypots are the best utensils for the cooking process. Oil, alkaline and salt are known to destroy the qualities during the cleaning process. Do not prolong soaking unnecessarily as fins may disintegrate easily. This delicacy is valued for its gelatinous texture, protein, as it nourishes the body system. On the whole, sharksfins has very little flavours of its own, but when cooked or braised with a superior stock of an old hen and Chinese ham, the flavours are good to the last drop as it has an interesting texture that absorbs good flavours in easily. Gourmets have the passion to make lip-smacking cuisines from it.

Of late, marine life conservationists and environmentally friendly groups have tried to create an awareness of how gruesome an act can be when some deep-sea fishermen would cut off the fins from the sharks and throw the fishes back into the deep seas. This endangers their chances of survival and raising awareness had reduced consumers'demands. Many restaurants have resorted to using the artificial or vegetarian sharksfins to replace for the genuine stuff.

It is definitely much cheaper to using fake fins. How can one tell which is a real thing. A simple test is to cut a strand of fin. Genuine sharksfins come in various long and short slivers and once cut, it leaves behind very minute strands of fins due to the gelatinous texture. Artificial fins are of the equal length and the cut end is always neat.

Selected Recipes:

Sharksfin Soup Of The Day

150g processed sharksfins or artificial sharksfins
150g cooked chicken shreds
200g crab meat
2 litres superior stock
2 stalks spring onion (cut into sections)
4 slices old ginger
4 pips garlic (smashed)
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar
1 chicken stock cube
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
For thickening: (mixed together)
100g potato starch or corn flour
100ml water
  1. Place sharksfins in a colander and wash it clean under running water. Pour boiling water over, remove and keep aside.
  2. Place crab meat in a colander, wash and let it drain well. Remove crabs to a bowl, steam it for five minutes. Remove and set aside.
  3. Heat up a little oil in a pot. Saut?ginger, garlic, spring onions, superior stock and seasonings. Bring it to a boil, discard ginger, garlic and spring onions with the aid of a sieve.
  4. Place in chicken shreds and flaked crab meat. Bring it to another quick boil.
  5. Taste and adjust according to your own preference. Thicken the soup.
  6. Turn off heat, beat in the egg, add in no.(1) the fins. Serve hot in small bowls with condiments of black vinegar and brandy. These are optional items.


  1. Cooking Superior Stock: Chop a chicken into pieces. Remove skin and fats, parboil in boiling water for 10 minutes to remove scums. Remove and wash meat clean. Place meat into a pot filled with 2 1/2litres of water. Add in 5 dried scallops and boil it on high heat till it comes to a rapid boil. Turn heat to medium and boil stock till flavours are released. Cool stock before freezing it. Thaw stock before usage.
  2. Potato starch gives a nicer consistency as a thickener even when the soup has been kept standing for a long time. Both cornflour and tapioca flour loosen up the glueing effect when the soup turns cold.

Fish Maws

An elementary page on fish stomachs, fish maws and dried fish bladders.

In this issue, you can enjoy a delicious bonus with seafood as all varieties not only tastes good but share a rich nutritional beneficence. Among the Chinese community, the four most prestigious seafood luxuries are arranged according to the order of importance and value. Top-of the range comes abalones (pronounced as aba-loh-nees), next will be sea cucumbers followed by sharkfins and the final order, fish maws.

Most of us do have a wrong interpretation of what fish maws are. It is wrong to assumed it is the general stomach portion. This is not a true chart as it is the air bladder we should be looking at. The area is also known as the floating bladder as it is filled with arteries and blood capillaries. Fishes are cold-blooded, water-inhabiting vertebrates with tails and fins, taking in oxygen through their gills. The contract and expand actions enable the fish to stay afloat in the waters whilst the tail and fins helps to propel and steer the body's movement when it glides along. Evolution makes different species, an example, shark, which is not controlled by the air bladder but it has its own built-in huge oily liver. The body is streamlined shape which makes it ideal for moving fast through waters.

Fish stomach carries an excellent source of protein and a host of minerals, vitamins, iron and iodine. A substance, collagen, adds to the virtures as it is believed this complex structural beauty protein helps the skin to remain radiant and youthful. It has and will always be a legendary food to many wealthy people, especially those with lung illnesses, to consume loads of fish maws. The Chinese medicine-man perceived it to have the medicinal properties, to repair damaged tissues.

The smaller part of the fish stomach is known as fish bladder. This is easily available at the wet markets in both dried and deep-fried forms. Prices vary according to the grade sold. Generally after purchasing it, this is sun-dried, sliced and then deep-fried. It expands quickly like prawn crackers being immersed into hot oil. Soak the fried maws in water, drain well and coat with some flour. Give this a quick rinse as it helps to remove any excess oil trapped in. You can cook it with other ingredients or stocks as the fish bladders soak up flavours easily.

The thicker pieces are known as fish maws as these come from the last of the ruminant's stomach. Being a delicacy, prices are high, comparable to good quality sea cucumbers and are available at dried marine product shops or the larger-scale herbal shops. Quality of fish maws are determined by the thickness, gender, categories of the fishes caught, depth of the ocean waters, as all these attribute to their goodness.

Steps taken for processing fish maws are generally not much different from sea cucumbers. They are soaked in either warm or cold water for two days. Water should be changed several times in-between and make sure all utensils used are totally free of oil as it can caused the fish maws to decay easily. On the following day, heat up a big stainless steel pot with lots of water. Bring this to a rapid boil and turn off the heat. Immerse in the pre-soaked fish maws, let the water cool naturally. Remove fish maws and repeat this boiling hot and cooled water treatment several times till the fish maws are soft enough for the finger prick test. Do not boil them as it is not a good procedure. Wash the soften fish maws well. Clean off the slimes, as you squash it, there is a sponge-like feel. Keep cleaned fish maws in a storage box filled with clean water. Place in the freezer's lower compartment and it keeps pretty well if instructions are followed closely.

Our previous articles on abalones and sea cucumbers are found in Issue 4 and Issue 10 respectively.

A short lesson on processing dried fish baldders

Buy the pre-fried dried fish bladders. In a wok of warm oil (not boiling hot), refry it to expand it further. The colours should not changed to golden. If what you purchased are in the dried form, cut them into small pieces. Sundry it before deep-frying them in warm oil. This helps to expand the bladders a lot better. Soak them in a bowl of clean water for approximately 10 minutes. Remove above and coat it with some flour. This is to soak up excess oil trapped in. Wash flour coated bladder pieces well. Change the murky waters several times till it is clear looking. Squeeze it dry and this is ready for your cooking.

A Spread Of Dried Fish Bladder Dishes

With the approaching Lunar New Year, it is definitely a good opportunity to savour all the hallmarks of Chinese cuisine. If you are a fan of timeless appeal dishes, seafood delicacies should be on your high profile list. To help readers zero in on the dried marine products - fish stomachs/ dried fish bladders, we embarked on a food journey to Triang. The Lees showed us the various examples of how this classic ingredient can be served. On it's own, dried fish baldders are virtually bland, it depends entirely on borrowed flavours from the stocks and other ingredients used. Yet nutrition-wise, it is a wholesome food.

Prosperous looking Mr. Lee Hang Huat and wife, Mdm. Wong Chew Fong are now both in their prime of life. Success did not come easy for him as he fared badly in a business project during his younger days. His wife was a trained cook and encouraged him to learn the food trade. On picking up the tools of-the-trade, he ventured into running a restaurant. This venture is a success but is also a back-breaking task. They do not get home any earlier than one a.m. nightly. After attending to the accounting, bedtimes are regular at three a.m. It is not wrong to say that success depends on your own efforts too. Being a gourmet, Mr. Lee loves to dine at different places, he enjoys other people's cooking and get inspirations from it. Cooking is an art, be inspired by Mr. Lee's presentation of dried fish bladder recipes. Are you game enough to practice and thrill family and friends with your skill? In the spirit of a New Year, let us rejoice together.

Selected Recipes:

(1) Braised Dried Fish Bladders With Mushrooms And Sea Cucumbers

150g dried fish bladders (soaked, cut into small pieces)
600g soaked sea cucumbers (braised, cut into pieces)
10 mushrooms (soaked)
500 ml chicken superior stock
A little fragrant oil (refer to method below)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine/ Hua Diao
Some pepper
Some dark soy sauce
For thickening:
1 tbsp potato starch/ tapioca flour
1 tbsp water
1.Heat up 5 tbsps oil, fry sea cucumbers over high heat till fragrant, drain off excess oil and set aside.
2.Heat up the wok, put in seasoning and sea cucumbers, mix well. Add in superior stock and braise for 15 minutes. Remove the sea cucumbers, place on a plate and retain the stock.
3.Add dried fish bladders into stock of no.(2), simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Dish up.
4.Finally, put mushrooms into the same stock. Simmer for 5 minutes over high heat and bring it to a boil. Add in thickening and a little fragrant oil. Pour over fish bladders and sea cucumbers.

(2) Broccoli With Scallops And Dried Fish Bladders

150g deep-fried fish maws (cut into small pieces)
200g fresh scallops (parboiled in oil)
15 fresh prawns (parboiled in oil)
200g broccoli (cut into florets, blanched)
Some ginger shreds
400 ml pig bone superior stock
3 tbsps fragrant oil (refer to method below)
1 tbsp rice wine
Some salt
For thickening:
1 tbsp tapioca flour
2 tbsps water
1. Heat up 2 tbsps fragrant oil. Pour in stock, bring it to a boil. Add in salt, adjust taste. Add in fish bladders and ginger shreds, mix well and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Scoop up the fish bladders onto a plate.
2. Surround the fish bladders with prawns and broccoli. Place scallops on top.
3. Reheat stock of no.(1). Add in thickening, 1 tbsp fragrant oil and 1 tbsp rice wine, mix well. Pour it over no.(2).

To prepare fragrant oil:
Heat up enough oil in wok over low heat, put in chopped shallots or garlic, fry till it is golden in colour. Sieve residue, the remaining oil is the fragrant oil.

To parboil food in oil:
Heat up some oil in a wok over low heat. Place food in to partial cook or fully cooked it. Scoop up and drain off excess oil. Food prepared using this method is smoother and fresh flavours retained.

(3) Hot & Spicy Dried Fish Bladders

200g dried fish bladders (soaked, cut into small pieces)
2 slices fresh pineapple (cut into cubes)
2 onions (cut into cubes)
2 red chillies (cut into cubes)
1 capsicum (cut into cubes)
2 tomatoes (cut into cubes)
Some ginger shreds
1 tbsp chilli sauce
2 tbsps tomato ketchup
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsps water
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine/ Hua Diao
1. Heat up some oil, fry pineapples and onions over high heat till fragrant. Add in seasoning (except Hua Diao), bring it to a boil.
2. Add in red chillies, capsicums, tomatoes, ginger shreds and dried fish bladders. Stir well over high heat till cooked.
3. Sprinkle Hua Diao to enhance the aroma. Dish up and serve.

Relishing Dried Fish Bladders Salad

200g dried fish bladders (soaked, cut into small pieces)
1 ripe mango (shredded)
Some deep-fried cashew nuts
Pickled vegetables: (marinated overnight)
100g carrots (cut into strips)
100g white radish (cut into strips)
50g young ginger (cut into thin slices)
150ml vinegar
200g sugar
100ml water
2 tbsps Thai chilli sauce
2 tbsps tangerine oil (available at Chinese herbal shops)
6 local limes/ limau kasturi (extract juice)
1/2 tbsp sugar
1. Blanch fish bladders. Remove and leave aside to cool. Squeeze off excess water.
2. Strain pickled vegetables.
3. Mix well fish bladders, pickled vegetables, mango shreds, cashew nuts and seasoning. This is a nice appetizing dish.

Sea Cucumbers

Marine kingdom of sea cucumbers

In the oceanic waters of Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Philippines, Indonesia, Seychelles and Africa, there lies a great wealth of sea cucumbers. Under natural history, they are classified as the Echinoderms group. Biologists believed there are countless other species yet to be defined. Generally, sea cucumbers like to breed in clean, uncontaminated waters filled with corals. Normally embedded in a depth of 40-60 feet sandy grounds, they at times do perch on top of sea-bed rocks, forming a friendly colony with sea urchins and starfishes.

Environmentalists treasure these sea creatures as it helps in the natural evolution cycle of the Earth. Plants grow in the sea and produces oxygen to make the air breathable. Sea cucumbers nurtured on these drifting algae plants as it provides the right food for them. The marine plankton and the plant plankton co-habitat with one another. Thus,over many generations, a chain of evolution forms.

Throughout its life cycle, both sexes of sea cucumbers have good reproductive years. During the spawning season, sperms released are likely to fertilized with eggs breed. After the hatching period, larvae evolve and begin to develop slowly. Small larvae may be food to the bigger fishes, crustaceans, prawns, molluscs, octopuses who prey on them.

A matured sea cucumber has its own biological defensive weapon. When provoked, it is prompted to thrust out its internal organs but returns quickly to its normal self when left alone. They are normally harvested at a depth of 40-60 feet but sometimes it gets down to 100 feet deep. After the harvest, they are brought up to shores. The cleaning process begins but it does differ slightly in the processing for each variety caught.

1) Sea cucumbers are quite fat-free and possess good proteins. This is a much sought after dried seafood delicacy. Hokkiens (a dialect group of the Chinese) will definitely cook this ingredient as festive food.
2) In Cantonese, it is known as Hoi Sum. It incorporates a pun with a symbolic rhyme of Happy hearts. This is reasonable enough why sea cucumbers make good gift packs during Chinese New Year.

A first-hand knowledge of:

(A) Steps taken in cleaning teat fish for export(chee poh sum in Cantonese):
Use sea water to soak it for eight hours. Change sea water constantly, till it is clean. Bring sea water or plain water to a boil. Add in a couple of sea cucumbers to boil for 45 minutes. Repeat with the rest of sea cucumbers. Turn off the heat and let it cool naturally. Slice open at a length of two-three cm and clean off entrails. Repeat the boiling step all over again to do a thorough job.
After the cooling process, pierce a sharp, bamboo skewer through the body. This helps to retain its shape. Flip over to rest it on its tummy side. Put it out into the sun to dry. Later, roast it in the oven for a while to ensure even drying. Remove the skewer and to retain a shape, bind it with a string each. Place it under the scorching sun to dry again. Untie the string, sort out the grades and it is ready for export.

(B) Processing sand fish
Clean off all entrails. Drain dry on bamboo racks. Boil and let it cool naturally. Bury it in the sand for 15-18 hours. Bring it out and give it a good scrub. Boil again, cool thoroughly and a final step, sun it once more. Only properly dried sea cucumbers can have a good storage life. This is then marketed to the middleman who would resell it for culinary and medicinal purposes.

The cleaning process of sea cucumbers:

Sea cucumbers, disregarding sizes and colours, possess the same nutrients. They contain loads of protein and are low in fats and cholesterol. Being nicknamed as Ginseng of the sea, it is believed to have some curative remedies. The jelly-like fibrous, spongy substance are considered to be good for hypertension and is an aphrodisiac in the Chinese health benefit language.

A few points are printed here to help you to select a prime buy. The sea cucumbers must be really dried, knock it against a table's surface. Listen to the strong sound, the heavier the echo, the better it is. Well dried sea cucumbers have a good storage life. The spiky chee sum can easily be recognised. Teat fish or chee poh sum is sturdy built and has two little spikes at the sides. Some are not too obvious and at times it can be mistaken for another variety, which bears a close resemblence.

Sand fish has a rounder appearance and has horizontal lines across. This is the most common type for household purchases. It needs a trained eye to choose the varieties and a non-unscrupulous dealer to help you.

When you need to cook sea cucumbers, prepare the tedious task, days ahead. Give it a wash, soak it in a basin of tap water for one day. On the second day, boil a pot of water. Turn off the heat, immerse in the sea cucumbers and cover up the pot. Soak for the whole day. On the third day, split open the stomach, remove all entrails, scrub it inside out, very clean with a brush. Boil another pot of water. Turn off heat and immerse cucumbers in again till it is soft enough. Remember the water must be boiling hot before you turn off the heat, the pot and water must be free of oil. As a matter of fact, you never soak dried seafood of any kind in water that has even a drop of oil. The sea cucumbers should have doubled its size now. To remove the fishy odour, place slices of old ginger, stalks of spring onion and some Chinese cooking wine into a pot. You either use a stock or plain water to cook it for 15-30 minutes. After this process, it should be ready for its pairing-off with other ingredients. Sea cucumbers are virtually tasteless on its own. It absorbs the flavour from stock of the dishes. It can withstand long terms of cooking like braising, double-boiling, simmering or it can be stir-fried with sauces ranging from savoury, sweet, sourish or spicy.

At any rate, try cooking our recipes printed. The enthusiastic home cook will surely be able to dish up something wonderful for this festival. Happy cooking.

Selected Recipes:


1 piece chee poh sum
10 stalks Shanghai flat cabbages/ siew pak choy
10 pieces fresh scallops
100g small prawns
100g black dried mushrooms (soaked, sliced)
100g braised peanuts (canned type)
300g pork (minced)
4 slices ginger
5 stalks spring onion
1 litre superior stock
2 tbsp Maggi concentrated chicken stock
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp chicken granules powder
A little pepper
Some dark soy sauce
For thickening: mix together
1 tsp tapioca flour
1 tbsp water
1. Put sea cucumber, ginger, spring onions, superior stock and seasoning to braise for 1 hour. Place it on a plate. Keep aside.
2. Blanch siew pak choy with a little oil, salt. Drain and surround the plate with it.
3. Fry mushrooms, peanuts, small prawns and minced pork. Pour in the gravy from no.(1). Cook till it is semi-dry. Thicken the gravy and pour over no.(1) which has been garnished with the blanched vegetable. Serve hot.


1 piece sand fish
200g big prawns meat
200g tomatoes (diced)
50g old ginger (sliced)
50g garlic (minced)
50g red chillies (minced)
4 tbsp tomato sauce
Marinade for prawns: a little each
Salt, sugar, pepper powder, tapioca flour
2 tbsp black good quality vinegar
2 tbsp Thai chilli sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
A little pepper
A little water
For thickening: mix together
1 tsp tapioca flour
A little water
1. Heat wok, add in 2 tbsp oil. Saut?garlic, chilly and ginger. Add in tomatoes, tomato sauce and sea cucumber. Stir-fry till aromatic and add in a little water. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour till flavour develops.
2. In the meantime, mash the prawn meat with the blade of a cleaver. Add in marinade and beat till a paste forms.
3. Stuff no.(2) into the cooked sea cucumber which has been brushed with a layer of tapioca flour. Steam the stuffed sea cucumber for 10 minutes on high heat. Remove from heat and cut it into pieces.
4. Bring the seasoning to a boil. Thicken gravy and pour over no.(3).


10 pieces small sand fish
10 French beans (cut into sections)
10g dried sole fish (diced)
100g crab meat (see tips)
20g cured ham (diced)
500ml superior stock
1 tbsp Maggi concentrated chicken stock
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp chicken granules powder
1 tbsp light soy sauce
A little pepper
For thickening: mix together
1/2 tbsp tapioca flour
A little water
1. Deep-fry both crab meat and ham.
2. In wok, add in 3 tbsp oil and saut?dried sole fish. Add in the sea cucumbers.
3. Add in seasoning, superior stock and cook over low heat till sea cucumbers absorb in the flavours.
4. Taste and adjust seasoning. Thicken gravy and add in no.(1).
5. Blanch French beans with a little oil and salt to keep its green colour. Garnish the plate with it.
Tips: Steam crabs and flake off the meat. You can buy processed type from shops or supermarkets.


10 pieces chee poh sum (disregarding sizes)
10 black dried mushrooms (soaked soft, cut a cross in the centre)
1 dried cuttlefish (soaked, shredded)
5 pips garlic (peel skins)
1 cinnamon stick/ kayu manis
1 star anise/ bunga lawang
10 honey peas
500ml superior stock
1 tbsp Maggi concentrated chicken stock
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp chicken granules powder
A little pepper
For thickening: mix together
1 tsp tapioca flour
A little water
1. Heat wok, add in 4 tbsp oil. On high heat, saut?cinnamon bark, star anise and garlic pieces. Add in chee poh sum, mushrooms, dried cuttlefish, and stir-fry well.
2. Add in superior stock, seasoning and bring it to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 1/2 hour. Taste and adjust seasoning. Thicken the gravy and dish up.
3. Blanch honey peas with a little oil and salt to keep its green colour. Garnish the plate with it. Serve hot.


1/2 portion of a pig's fore-trotter (chop into pieces)
1/2 rice bowl oil
600g pre-soaked sea cucumbers
2 whole bulbs of garlic (leave skins on)
A little minced garlic
1 tbsp sugar
1 litre water
2 tbsps Chinese cooking wine
2 tbsps soy sauce
1 tsp salt
A little pepper
1. Parboil pig's trotter pieces for five minutes. This is to remove the oil and scums. Dish up and drain dry.
2. In luke warm oil, stir-fry sea cucumber pieces. Remove and drain away excess oil.
3. Heat clean wok, add in 1/2 rice bowl oil and caramel the sugar till a light golden colour is achieved. Do this process on a very low heat. When the sugar solution is bubbly, put in no.(1). Stir well over a high heat.
4. Add in minced garlic, seasoning and water. Simmer over medium heat for 1 hour.
5. Add in the whole garlic bulbs and sea cucumbers. Top with extra water if necessary. After 1/2 hour, check ingredients for tenderness and gravy should be rather thick in consistency.
6. Finally, drizzle in the Chinese cooking wine and dish up contents.


1 dozen goose webbed feet (chop off claws)
1 kg pre-soaked/ cleaned, good quality sea cucumbers (sand fish)
1 whole floret of broccoli
3 slices cekor (sar keong)
1 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
4 star anise/ bunga lawang
1 piece cinnamon bark/ kayu manis
A pot of water
1/2 bowl oil (see method, step 3)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp oyster sauce
A little salt
A little MSG/ Aji-no-moto
A little dark soy sauce
1 tbsp fragrant oil (see tips 3)
For thickening: mix well
1 tbsp tapioca flour or cornflour
1 tbsp water
1. Make a bouquet garni. Use a small piece of cheesecloth, put in cekor, peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon bark and tie it with a string. Place this small bag of flavouring in a pot of water and boil on high heat for 1/2 hour. Add in a little salt and rock sugar to taste. Pour boiled solution into a big soup bowl, keep aside to cool.
2. Parboil goose webbed feet, remove and rinse it in cold water. Remove and drain.
3. Heat up 1/2 bowl oil, add in 1 tbsp sugar and stir over low heat till it turns bubbly and is a golden hue. Add in goose webbed feet and stir well. Remove and put into no.(1). Place all into a pot and boil over high heat for 2 hours or more till the feet are tender enough for the palate.
4. Heat oil and stir fry sea cucumbers. Add in Chinese cooking wine, then seasoning. Simmer over low heat for 1/2 hour till sea cucumbers are edible.
5. Add in no.(3), thickening and doused with two tbsp fragrant oil.

1. To caramel sugar, the oil must not be too hot and you must not burn the sugar.
2. You may replace goose webbed feet with normal chicken feet. The preparation is the same.
3. To make fragrant oil: Put 50g minced garlic, 50g minced shallots, a whole plant of Chinese coriander including the roots into 500ml of oil in a wok.Cook over low heat till it is bubbly and golden in colour.


A Brief History

Abalones are harvested in many regions around the world, the seas around Mexico has the best ones. Abalones are also found in the waters around Australia, along USA's Pacific Coast,the Arabian Gulf and of course, the sea around Japan.

However, only Japan can boast a special variety of abalones that can be cured without compromising its distinctive aroma - a delicacy much sought after the gourmets around the world. Abalones from other regions are usually sold canned or fresh. The sea around Japan where abalones are harvested is pollution-free. This is one of the reasons for the good quality.

What is special about Japanese dry abalones?

To begin with, the semi-opaque dried abalones are distinguished by its special smooth flavour and rich aroma. When sliced open, it has the colour of salted duck egg yolks with a slight tint of gold.

In terms of shapes and sizes, the Canadian abalones are closest to the Japan variety. In fact, a group of Japanese abalone masters went to Canada with the intention to produce dried abalones with the Canadian variety. But, after several months of experimentations, they returned to Japan with disappointment. They are now more convinced that Japanese dried abalones are unique.

Generally, the string of bays dotting the Iwate and Aomori prefectures produces the most famous abalones. The finest abalones are found in a strip of water known as Three Trees in Miyako. But it is not easy to harvest abalones here. The reasons are the great depth and older abalones are wiser. They have learnt to avoid suction tubes by hiding deep down. As they tend to evade the hunters for a long time, they are often larger than normal.

Controlled Harvesting

Recently, the Japanese government enacted special laws for harvesting abalones. Fishermen must use a periscope and special suction tube to catch abalones. They are not allowed to dive into the creature's habitat. Fishermen are only allowed to catch fully grown abalones. Undersized ones should remain untouched.

Abalone fishermen work throughout the day. Only 10 per cent of the catch is used for making dried abalones. The rest are canned or made into abalone sashimi or tepanyaki. Recent times in Japan, Abalone sashimi has become very popular as a highly nutritious delicacy. Until recently, the Japanese did not know that such delicacy could be made from dried abalones. Now they have learnt the secrets from Chinese chefs. The production of dried abalones is bound to increase.

A Master's touch

In Japan, three families are renowned for the production of dried abalones.Each family has a master who is both the director and producer of the show. To produce perfectly dried abalones, their experiences and expertise are crucial.

First, skilled women workers carefully separated the flesh from the shell, this process demands utmost skill because damaged abalones will be rejected. Being so, unskilled workers will never be employed.The technique of separating abalones from the shell is not as easy as it seems, the innards of the abalones,a delicacy, must also be extracted. This surgeons will definitely lose their jobs after a few blunders.

Once the abalones are removed from its shell, they are immersed in salt water for two days. After that they have to be thoroughly boiled. Then spun in a revolving cylinder to remove all impurities. The process takes about an hour. An abalone factory is always steamy hot, so hygiene is very important. Therefore, women workers wear special headgear and plastic overalls.

These skilled workers now move the abalones from the boiling water onto a huge strainer, the sized of a single bed. They do not touch the abalones with their bare hands, and instead use large wooden spatulas. Once cooled, the abalones are place on a bamboo stand.

Then, the bamboo stand is placed over a large charcoal oven. The clay brick oven normally holds only 3-4 pieces of charcoal internally. The slow heat evaporates the moisture in the abalones without damaging the stand. This requires careful control of intense heat. When the abalones are about 80 percent dry, they are sewn together with large needles and thin strings from one end to the other. A string of abalones usually consists of 10 golden yellow pieces. These strands are then strung on bamboo sticks, which are fixed vertically on wooden squares. Hundreds and thousands of abalones hoisted in these frames make a spectacular sight. They are thus sun-dried for about a month, as the abalones turn reddish. Excessive sunlight will damage the abalones.

A small quantity of the Japanese harvest is exported to Hong Kong as dried abalones, the rest are for the domestic market in Japan.

King of Abalones - Yueng Koon Yat

Everyone calls him Ah Yat. His early years was spent as a mere kitchen trainee and was later promoted to a waiter position. In 1974, this enterprising self taught chef started a joint venture seafood outlet, Forum Restaurant, with friends but the project turned sour. Eventually with his dedicated passion, he began a new journey.

He spent a huge fortune to experiment and master the skills in dried abalones preparation. Finally years later, in 1983, he successfully created his signature dish Tong Sum Abalones.

In 1986, Ah Yat participated in a China Culinary Exchange Fair presenting his creation of Tong Sum Abalones. There is a classic quote from China's ex-leader, Deng Xiao Peng, "Since China's revolution, these are the best abalones I have tasted." This instantly brought stardom to Ah Yat.
In 1992, he was invited to be a member of Club Des Chefs Des Chefs (Chief Chefs Club-C.C.C.), a world prestige culinary association. Many world leaders were impressed with his memorable abalone dishes. He has been ranked as a world status food ambassador. Ah Yat was awarded the C.C.C. gold medal in 1996. In Year 2000, he was honoured once again another even higher level world award for his gourmet dishes.

Here, Ah Yat imparts his knowledge to our readers. Dried abalones should be pre-cooked in a claypot over a charcoal stove for at least two days. Stir it constantly and add extra stock when necessary. Try not to overpower the natural flavour with seasonings. Most people like to add in Yunan ham but this is not advisable as the abalones tend to turn saltish and the wonderful taste is eliminated.

Bringing with him more than 50 years of food involvement,he now owns a chain of restaurants in Asia. Two of them are in Malaysia; one is located in Kuala Lumpur's Swiss Garden Hotel and the other in Genting's First World Hotel.

Since the opening of Forum Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur last July, there is always a queue out there with guests waiting patiently for their turns to savour the palate pleasing Ah Yat Abalone. We truly believe that his food creation will create a worldwide trend. Entertain at a higher level, go Ah Yat tonight!

Abalones Dealer In Malaysia

The Chinese Culture is very much entrenched in their food, especially celebrating special occasions like the reunion dinner - the open day of New Year, which is the second day of Lunar New Year - Low Shang on the seventh day - The Hokkien New Year on the ninth day - Chap Go Mei on the fifteenth day. The Chinese custom emphasizes heavily on serving good food during happy occasions.

In Fact, the demand for Chinese dried seafood tends to increase tremendously as the Lunar New Year approaches. Dried seafood such as abalones, sharksfin, sea cucumbers, scallops and dried oysters were for the elite in the olden days, according to Hiah (Gan) Siek Kee, Managing Director of Kwang Yeow Heng, one of the leading shops selling Chinese dried food. However, there is a change in the contemporary trend whereby restaurants promote abalones dishes as their signature dish. Among the popular dishes are the Monk Jumps Over The Wall, Sharksfin set meal and dried abalones set meal. These dishes are becoming more popular and common.

Besides the abalones' excquisite taste, what is the reason that causes its popularity?

Abalones are categorized as a type of soft-shelled creature. They are mainly found in the seas of Japan, South Africa, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. An abalone contains lots of protein and vitamin A. It helps to improve the kidneys' condition and one's eyesight. If Chinese herbs are combined together, it brings lots of good health.

The Alisan brand abalones are found in the seas of Mexico. The processed abalones maintain a springy texture, which is most suitable to be eaten raw or to go along with chilli sauce or oyster sauce.

The Skylight brand abalones are found in the seas of Australia and New Zealand. The abalone hunters usually capture these creatures during the night time and processed them into canned abalones within five hours, before 10 a.m. These canned abalones are famous for its unique sweetness and smooth texture.

Hiah in his 70s has a word of advice that abalones should not be eaten on empty stomachs as this will eliminates its goodness. Abalones are able to revive one's energy level too.



Unwind At China's Northern Provinces
Beijing/ Chende/ Tianjin

22-7-2004 (Thursday)
It was nine in the morning when we boarded a Malaysian Airlines flight to our dream getaway, Beijing. Our group totalled seventeen and out of this number, eleven of them are from the restaurant hospitality trade. Only four members are not connected to us but we embraced them as our new found friends. Welcome to our world on a quest for culinary adventure.

Six hours later, we were thrilled to land at Beijing International Airport. I looked forward to viewing the capital of China, a place teemed with history. Beijing occupies an area of 16,800 sq. km and houses a population, currently at 16 million. This is quite close to our total population in Peninsular Malaysia. We share a same time zone but gosh, the sky is bright as early as four a.m and does not get dark till eight in the evenings. They have the four seasons and this month of July is the summer. The weather is quite identical to ours, hot and humid. With school holidays around, the whole city is thick with tourists.

Gingko trees are planted everywhere as the slight of it is as common as our tropical coconut trees being grown extensively in the rural areas. As China is going to host the Olympic Games 2008, the whole place in Beijing gets an extended air of activity. Planning such a worldwide sports event is in itself a major undertaking. Wooden structures are erected at many venues, a stark contrast with the beautiful historic buildings alongside.

23-7-2004 (Friday)
Today is reputed to be the focal point of this tour as we are going to see one of the Eight Wonders of the World. The Great Wall Of China is really great as the total length spans some 6,500 km and was the only visible man-made structure seen by the astronauts who viewed Earth after they set foot on the moon 35 years ago. According to our tour guide Lim, he reckons one would need 500 days to pace the full length of the wall. How about that?

The next significant stop was at the huge royal tombs where late emperors of the Ming dynasty were buried. One of the massive and sprawling imperial tomb was opened for public viewing. It was 18 meters underground and temperature reading dropped to 20 degree celcius as exterior temperature was around 32 degree celcius. There was no spooky feeling as one feel the cool air forcing its way out.

Travelling works up an appetite so we tried the famous Mongolian Hotpot similar to our steamboat. The Mongols introduced their taste of dairy produce, mutton. This is the main ingredient for the firepot. At Tong Lai Shun Restaurant, a Muslim restaurant of over 100 years, it served halal food. The mutton topside meat has beautiful marbled fats and sliced paper-thin. You blanch the meat in a central firepot filled with boiling stock. Eat the cooked meat dipped in a special sauce. It has no gamy taste and the sauce is prepared with a combination of seven ingredients. Comprising sesame peanut sauce, pureed chives' juice, chilli oil, Chinese cooking wine, cooked prawns' oil, fermented white beancurd and soy sauce. Minced Chinese coriander and minced white sections of spring onions can be added if desired. A selection of sliced chicken meat and beef are available too. After this wonderful meal, we had a ride around the city. I noticed many restaurants had signboards which bore a very similar name to the original eatery of Mongolian Hotpot. Can be rather tricky for tourists to work out the true-blue.

24-7-2004 (Saturday)
The climb of many steps leading to the first point of the Great Wall Of China had taken its toll on a fair number of our members, who generally do not do much physical exercises. Today, we may have to struggle and keep pace with ten thousand scores of people who have lined up at the gate entrance to Tian An Men (The Gate Of The Heavenly Peace) for a glimpse of Chairman Mao's Memoriam Museum. Coupled with a weekend and school holidays, the crowd jostled for space with a sea of umbrellas to shelter off the sweltering heat.

It was an amazing afternoon as we walked across the street to view The Forbidden City. This is definitely something not to be missed as this extraordinary huge palace used to be the official residence of former late emperors, queens, concubines and the royal households. It was also the country's administration centre. Official occupancy began during the Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty. It has housed a total of 24 late emperors for a span of 500 years. The total built-up land area is 720,000 sq. meters, has 890 different chambers and a total of 9,000 bedrooms. The inner courts are bared of big trees, mainly because too many birds may perched on tree branches and chirpped noisily besides the disadvantage of being hideaways for assasins. A beautiful Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill formed the serene background. It was the ideal recreation garden for past royals. The United Nationals Educational Scientific And Cultural Organization had obtained an order for China to preserve this splendour as a heritage for the world to see and know the country's rich history and culture. Impressed with the beauty, we were all thankful to have viewed the magnificent building.

In the early evening, we set out for a place to savour tea. Tour guide Lim, ventured to the back portion of the shop where one can order Shanxi noodles but did not look special as it was rather similar to our Malaysian panmeen. Main difference lies in tapioca flour was added to the dough, to give it a springy touch. The cook's skill in slicing the dough was incredible. His left hand moulded a dough and placed it on his left shoulder. His right hand deftly wield a special-designed knife to shred at the dough with amazing speed. Fine, lengthy noodles flew their way into a pot of boiling water nearby, never missing a single strand. Scalded noodles are drained and mixed with a braised stock, garnished with some condiments like Chinese celery, chilli oil and taupan sauce (bean sauce).

According to Lim, cooks of olden days were shaved bald and wore white caps to perform this feat. The doughs were placed on their heads then. This art calls for terrific skills.
Evening was free of activities so Mrs. Sia Say Tee, her daughter Boon Chin, daughter-in-law Chai Ching, son-in-law Mr. Chu Tiong An, Richard & I decided to enjoy a trishaw ride. We employed three trishaws to roam around. Finally, we barged into a Shanxi restaurant for supper. The Northern cuisine is noted for its spicy noodles, floral-coiled noodles, saucy pig's ears, saucy pig's trotter, spicy eight wonders sauce, Chinese escargots, skewered mutton meat and a pot of good brewed tea. The coiled noodles was interesting as the noodle strips was placed in dimsum baskets to steam. The surface looked like a bee's nest and you pick up the strands to eat with a unique mushroom sauce. Condiments of pickled cucumbers, carrot strips and minced garlic made it all the better. Cost came to £88.00 or RM44.00. This is a terrific deal at an inexpensive price.

25-7-2004 (Sunday)
After a simple breakfast at the hotel, out coach driver took us to the southern edge to view The Temple of Heaven. The land area is outrageous, a total of 2.73 million sq. meters, probably tripled the size of 'The Forbidden City'. The origins of this place dates back to the time for sacred prayers performed by the former emperors since 1420. Yearly, they will pray for adequate rain for agricultural crops growth, bountiful harvests reaped and well-being for their royal families. After this, we had a Hutong (lane) tour on trishaws, viewed the a factory that produces Jing-Tai-Lan (Cloisonne Ware), The Confucian Temple and The Big Bell Temple where the copper bells are reckoned to be the largest in the world.

Dinner was served at a Sichuan restaurant, not far from our resident hotel. The food is authentic as it had the strong spices and was mouth-burning. Hot taste is associated with Sichuan cooking as their Mapo Taufu, Twice-cooked Pork had us breaking out in sweats. Another dish named 'Fish Cooked In Water' sounded simple enough. The cook heated up some oil to stir-fry Sichuan peppercorns, dried chillies and spring onion till aromatic. In goes the beansauce, Sichuan peppercorn powder and fiery hot small peppers. Water was added in for flavours to fused together. Live fish was sliced into pieces and cooked in the above concoction. The cooked fish slices were removed and placed in a big bowl. Hot oil was drizzled in and Chinese celery was scattered on top. The waitress removed all surplus chillies and peppercorns before serving it to us. Fish was sweet and smooth textured, it must have been a good beansauce as it smelled fragrant. But the spicy degree had deaden our tastebuds momentary. This preponderance of hot, spicy food has its roots in history as geographical factor of Sichuan is bonded by mountain ranges and the climate is cold.

26-7-2004 (Monday)
It rained in the middle of the night and cleared the hot air. With a wet morning, all roads were choked with traffic. At midday, we were whisked to this Archery Watchtower over the Qian Gate. This gate was right in front of Tian An Men as it was built on good fengshui area. An hour later, we proceeded to a lecture hall. A fengshui master gave us some insights on good omen. Naturally, we all bought some decorative pieces as it may nurture good blessings.

Unquestionably the most famous Beijing roast duck restaurant is Quanjude. With 140 years of survival, it must bear some good testimony of truth. Chef Huang Yong Qi has worked here for 20 years and over. We listened to his theory of a good roast. The duck's (a special breed) cavity is filled with water before putting it to roast. A special piece of fruity tree wood is embedded in the stomach cavity to seal the opening. It goes through a colouring process before being roasted in wood-fired ovens. This is no ordinary wood but comes from the date trees as it produces a special aroma. Water retained in the ducks helps to maintain the moist meat whilst the exterior is roasted to a crisp with succulent taste. In Beijing, there are an uncountable number of shops selling this delicacy but only Quanjude reigns supreme.

At 2.30p.m, we left Beijing city to Chengde, a city 250 km away. This was a popular retreat for the royals to hunt and the famous Summer Villa is situated here. Due to the rainy weather, our four hours journey had prolonged to seven hours. At 9.30p.m, we finally reached the destination. Dinner was some game meat but we preferred the spud dish. It was potatoes shredded and deep-fried.

Next, it was immersed into a golden thick syrup. You picked up a piece of the sugar coated potato and soaked it in icy cold water. The sugar coagulates instantly into a sweet mass but taste was superb.

27-7-2004 (Tuesday)
The market near the hotel was a hive of activity at early six in the morning. The morning air was cool and crisp, we decided to peek at what they have to offer for early birds. At the end of the street was a little shop that had stacks of fried pancakes filled with either chives, cabbages or gherkins. The unassuming eatery served this delicious pancake with a vinegared dip, something to soothe away the heatiness. It is best to eat it with millet, green beans porridge or barley, millet porridge. Pretty refreshing to have a bowl of hot porridge in the early morning, probably, this is what draws the crowds.

Chengde local tour guide, Ms Zhang took us to view the Summer Villa, a former retreat for the royals from the extreme heat. What a sheer-coincidence, the fliming industry people were making a film here. We watched some film-shooting before ascending to our next destination, the Putuozongcheng Temple. As Ms Zhang led the way up, our group diminished in size. Not everyone is able to walk the length and breadth of 27 storeys high places. A quick lunch was eaten before we headed back to Beijing by coach.

Enjoyed the evening stroll to Wangfujing Street, this place is jammed with unique stuff. 88 food stalls rivalled for attention and we can’t believed what food was put up for consumption. Deep-fried scorpions, maggots, sea-urchins, blacken smelly taufoo, fried tripes and mutton offals' soups were just some of the food-ware. This is a fear factor challenge as we tried a little of each. The taste was a different story as it was crunchy and quite a delight. Another shop sold wantan soup and baked biscuits. Nothing special as the taste was very ordinary.

28-7-2004 (Wednesday)
Very early this morning, we left the hotel to view the underground city of Beijing. A maze-like structure that has a spider web network layout, deemed longer in length than 'The Great Wall Of China'. This is a man-made place and only a small portion is kept opened for public viewing. We journeyed on to Tianjin, a city, two hours ride away. At a legendary pau shop, we tasted the superb paus. You dipped them in vinegar or chilli oil and the fillings in the paus are either meat or seafood. Long queues are a common slight here.

Tianjin is a place breaming with fine jade ornaments, antiques, cheongsam clothings, tea leaves, tea brewing sets. You can find anything associated with Chinese handicraft at this culture street right in the city hub. It was enjoyable as every item was dirt cheap.

29-7-2004 (Thursday)
Did some last minute shopping for clothes at the famous 'Women Street'. It was a hurry-burry shopping as we had to proceed to the airport. Had lunch at a restaurant with a wacky name. The name of this place makes imagination soar as it is known as 'The Jin San Yuan Pazhulian'. They sell a brew of 33 herbal ingredients and the cooked pig's head is infused in for taste to develop. Later, the head is removed and sliced into pieces. A wrapper made from cornflour is used to wrap the sliced meat, spring onion and beansprouts. After folding the wrapper into a neat fold, dip it into a special sauce before eating. Quite unusual a dish as it is tasty.

Eight days a trip is too short for us to cover such a vast city. We had only been introduced to the tip of the iceberg of Chinese cuisine. What we have sampled may only be a fraction of the glory of the cuisine as good cooking has always been an intergral part of Chinese culture.



第二天进入行程首个景点,游览世界八大奇观之一,全长6千500公里的万里长城。导游小林说:“跑完万里长城需五百多天。”由月球往地球看,万里长城是唯一被认的建筑物。过後,参观明朝地下宫殿,皇帝十三陵之一的定陵,所谓‘陵’就是皇帝的坟墓。这是目前唯一被发现及开放供参观的皇陵,深十八米的地下宫殿冬暖夏 凉,当天温度三十二度,陵内气温大约二十度,湿度奇高,凉风一阵阵由内往外吹。




由天安门广场步行进入隧道越过马路,穿过红色城墙进入紫禁城。 紫禁城现称故宫,位于北京市中心,是过去皇帝及后妃生活起居和处理朝政之处,华丽的宫殿先後有明、清两朝24位皇帝在此居住,统治中国近500年。紫禁城占地72万平方米,各式宫殿890座,房屋9千多所。宫内看不到大树,据说不允许有小鸟在树上吱喳乱叫及避免刺客藏身。故宫后门紧接颐和园,在1998年被联合国教科文化组织列为世界文化遗产,被称为中国众多古典园林之首,内有多棵数百年古树、昆明湖及万寿山,是古时候候皇家休闲的花园。


晚上自由活动,我们与施太、文君、采芹及朱先生分乘三辆人力三轮车到附近超市逛,过後误打误撞进入一间山西人开的餐馆吃宵夜,店名是‘一家人食府’。我们点了山西辣拌莜面、莜面卷、酱猪耳、酱猪手、辣酱八宝、 福寿螺、羊肉串及一壶上等龙井茶。莜面卷是一卷卷薄薄的面皮整齐地排在一个点心小蒸笼内蒸熟,由上面往下看好像蜂巢一般,卖相极佳。以筷子夹起一卷,沾上冬菇酱、酸醋青瓜、红萝卜丝及蒜米碎,味道很特别。这一餐只费88圆人民币,相等於马币44零吉,非常值得。


晚餐,我们被安排到住宿酒店附近一间非为旅客而设的川菜馆用餐。这里的麻婆豆腐及回锅肉等麻辣菜令大家吃得满头大汗。我们另外点了一道‘水煮鱼’,厨师将花椒、辣椒乾及葱一起加入热油里大火炒香後,加入豆板酱、花椒粉、辣椒粉及小辣椒,再倒入水煮 滚,加入切片的活鱼煮熟後盛入大碗内,淋上滚烫的辣椒油,再撒点香菜即上桌。服务生将多余的辣椒干及花椒粒捞起,大家即大快朵颐。鱼肉鲜甜幼滑、豆板酱咸中带香、花椒令舌根麻痹、辣椒乾刺激食欲、加上香菜中和,整桌人大喊够绝!