Local Food

The Chestnut’s Cousin

One of my favorite things about shopping at farmers markets is trying new things. This has been a big part of how I learned to cook. I buy things that catch my eye and figure out what to do with them later.

Here in Hong Kong, I go to Island East Market. While there are a lot of non-farmers hawking their wares as well (baby clothes, jewelry, err..imported olive oil?), I still love going there every Sunday for the fresh, local produce. Yes, you can farm in this concrete jungle of a city!

As with ramps and fiddlehead ferns back in NYC, I get a little sucked into the hype of buying things I don’t particularly need but have a short growing season. I came across this funny-looking thing:


I asked the lady what is was, and she explained it was similar to a chestnut but has a very short growing season so it wouldn’t be available by next week. So obviously I had to buy this unidentifiable nut! I believe she said it’s called “fung ngang guo” but I have no clue how to write that in Chinese and if I even got the right name. Can anyone confirm this? Or know what it’s called in English?

Boiling unidentifiable Hong Kong nut

Following her instructions, I went home and boiled the nuts, which were sticky to the touch, for about 10 minutes.

Peeled unidentifiable Hong Kong nut

After letting them cool, I peeled them and had them as a snack. They were more difficult to peel, but were indeed a lot like chestnuts in texture and taste. Though, these being summer nuts, their taste is more subtle and lighter.

And by the time you read this…these nuts are probably long gone from the market!

Food Thoughts

Back From The Dead

eating clean fruit bowl rambutan mango cherry mangosteen

It’s been almost a year since my last post on Eating Clean in the Dirty City. Life got kinda crazy! Relocating to HK and starting a new job function in a new industry was a lot harder work than I thought it would be, no matter how much I love both my work and my city. On top of that, it’s been a tough year of facing my demons and doing a lot of personal development/soul-searching/healing/finding one’s self…whatever you wish to call it.

The good news is, I’m back! I’m still a little stressed and overwhelmed at times, but I finally have the space and capacity to feel inspired, be creative and share with the world again.

I’ve also gone on a bit of a journey with nutrition and my relationship with food, experimenting with foods and diets, but I’ve come back to what I’ve always known and loved–a healthy diet is one that is made up of real, fresh food. It is a balanced diet without cutting out any major food groups, but is predominantly made up of plants. Preferably vegetables. And it allows for “treats” because we live in society and all food is deeply tied into culture, history, and human connection. Foods do not have moral properties. Kale is not a saint. Oreos are not the devil.

OK. Enough philosophy and over-sharing. Expect posts about cooking, local seasonal produce, growing food and the Hong Kong food scene!

The blog

Life And Blog Update: Eating Clean In A New Dirty City

grouse mountain vancouver

Hello from Vancouver! You may have noticed that Eating Clean in the Dirty City has been abnormally quiet the past two weeks. I’ve mentioned leaving New York and moving back to Hong Kong several times on the blog and guess what. That time has finally come! I left NYC earlier this month and am currently in Canada doing a little travelling before heading back to Hong Kong this week.

I apologize for the lack of new posts–productivity and vacation just don’t mix for me. But I’m excited to dive right back into blogging when I get to Hong Kong with new and exciting content for you guys. Living on the other side of the world will bring all kinds of new challenges when it comes to clean eating. And hopefully it will encourage me to finally learn how to cook Chinese food!

In the meantime, please follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.

If you’re currently using Google Reader, don’t forget that it’s shutting down on July 1. Bookmark Eating Clean in the Dirty City or remember to add its RSS feed to your new RSS reader so you don’t miss anything!

The English Bay Inukshuk

Links and Life

Links and Life: May 2013


May has been a lovely month. Sure, the weather has been insane giving us a hot summer day one week and then freezing winter rain the following week, but I’ve been embracing it all as this is my last month in New York City. I wrapped up my last week at work, went to New Orleans and Pennsylvania, and then took my first real staycation. Time slips by ever so quickly, but I’ve tried my best to slow down, take it as it comes, do creative work, cook nourishing food, and enjoy my last days with this city and all the people in it that I love. But it’s not goodbye, New York. It’s see-you-later.

May Links

Lunch and Dinner

The Chinese Takeout Cookbook: Beef Chow Fun

beef chow fun the chinese takeout cookbook

Despite being born and raised in Hong Kong, I never really learned to make Chinese food, aside from simple fried rice and stir-fried eggs with tomatoes. And much as I love Chinese food, I don’t know all too much about it, not even my beloved Cantonese cuisine. I was even more confused when I moved to the US and didn’t recognize items on American Chinese takeout menus like General Tso’s Chicken and Crab Rangoon, though they soon became my favorite guilty pleasures. I’ve been really into cooking for over a year now and am proud of what I’ve accomplished in the kitchen, yet something has always been nagging me at the back of my mind. I need to learn how to make Chinese food. I need to get back in touch with my roots. Looks like I’ve found a little motivation!


I’m excited. One of my favorite bloggers, Diana Kuan of Appetite for China, recently got her book The Chinese Takeout Cookbook published (my Amazon Associates link). She posts awesome recipes on her blog and I even had the opportunity to take one of her dumpling-making classes here in New York City (she’s just as lovely in person). So of course I had to get a copy when the book came out. It’s filled with all kinds of great stuff I can’t wait to try, both “authentic Chinese” and “American Chinese”. I used to be a bit of a snob about that distinction but she makes a really great point in her book–all food has evolved from somewhere or something else; food changes, travels, adapts.

I chose to make Beef Chow Fun first, as it’s one of my favorite dishes, and I had a huge bloody steak leftover from my Valentine’s Dinner, waiting to be stir-fried. I only have one small Chinese market in my neighborhood and unfortunately they didn’t know what fermented black beans were, so I had to forego those for my recipe. Otherwise, it came out pretty good! I still need much practice with the art of stir-frying and I don’t think I fried the noodles for long enough. Regardless, I enjoyed my homemade Beef Chow Fun and appreciated that it didn’t come out super greasy as it sometimes can when you order takeout.

I’m actually moving back to Hong Kong soon, where I won’t need to trek to a Chinatown to gather ingredients, so this cookbook is coming with me. I have a feeling that I will be turning to this book again and again. It will feed me comforting, nourishing food in the years to come.

beef chow fun