Snakes and Dengue Fever….Oh My!

City, clouds and jungle

City, clouds and jungle

We have lived in Hong Kong now for 10 months. A day rarely passes that I don’t marvel at the reality of living here. With social media and FaceTime, my bouts of homesickness are infrequent and mostly centers around the missing of my daughter. Otherwise, I am very happy living in Hong Kong and having this experience.

When you make a move like this to a place that is so very different from where you have ever lived, I think you block out the things that have the potential to scare you or make you worry. Seeing unpleasant sights in the markets, the reality of getting shots for dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis and large spiders top my list.

Last week I had a dose of reality. While playing mahjong with friends that have lived in Hong Kong for many years the subject of snakes, specifically cobras, came up. I balked at the idea of a cobra being outside a zoo and within a hundred miles of me. I had seen a snake or two, three or four in the markets, but not a cobra and not outside of a cage. Of course I am not in denile of the fact that jungles do contain snakes, I just did not want to think about them. Yet,my friends insisted that there were cobras in Hong Kong and several other deadly snakes.

The next morning, I did a search of the South China Morning Post archives and low and behol,d I found many and recent articles on the numbers of snakes living in and around Hong Kong. And yes, cobras topped the list. The only comfort that I found was that most of the snakes that are dangerous don’t live in the dense jungle and hilly area that I frequent. They like the flats and near the water.

The second reality for me was also delivered by the South China Morning Post last week. Because we have had  well-above-average rainfall this year, there is a major outbreak of Dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis due to the high numbers of misquitos.

Even though these diseases seemed so very out of reach for me, I am glad I got the entire series of recommended shots for living in Hong Kong, which included Dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis. Now I guess I better start carrying a snake-bite kit! Do they make those for cobras?

Wok Wednesdays – Cilantro Chili Noodles with Egg

Another simple and very flavorful recipe from Stir-Frying To The Sky’s Edge by Grace Young.  Stir-Fried Cilantro Chili Noodles with Egg page 266

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In Hong Kong, one might think that it would be easy to find just about anything for a stir fry, but not the case. Surprisingly, cilantro rarely exists in any quantity in most markets be it local street or upscale western. When I find cilantro, I buy it. I saw a big batch at my neighborhood wet market and snapped it up for this recipe. It turned out to be six US dollars worth! The recipe calls for Anaheim chilies, while these are becoming quite “pedestrian” in the states, they are non-existant here. I decided to try a “capiscam” (that was how it was labled) that was long and a beautiful deep green.

Steve loves to take a quick photo of the stir-fry action in progress

Steve loves to take a quick photo of the stir-fry action in progress

The dish turned out lovely. As a matter of fact, I went out and scoured the markets for more cilantro and made it twice last week. Steve and I both loved it. The easy and simple sauce is absorbed by the noodles and the capiscam I used was perfect heat.

Something I learned about noodles. The first package in the photo below was used on the first try. It was a little sticky, but the flavor was great. The second was made from another variety of rice stick noodles and they were marked “chewy.” They were much much better for this recipe. Not sticky and had some body to them. Also, I measured the noodles after soaking and I think that was correct as the ratio to sauce, egg and cilantro seemed perfect.

Prep and ingredients for Cilantro Chili Noodles

Prep and ingredients for Cilantro Chili Noodles

Mahjong!

 

A Winng Hand

A Winng Hand

Two things that I decieded I would learn in Hong Kong is speaking Cantonese and learning to play mahjong. The Cantonese is not really going very well. But, I have become hooked on mahjong and can play fairly well.

The hand above is basically a “hole-in-one” for mahjong. I will probably never see this hand again in the rest of my life playing mahjong. It is called The Thirteen Orphans hand and one of the higheset scoring hands in the game. It consists of all for winds, a one and a nine of each common suit and one of each honor tile.

About 60% of the hand was drawn from the beginning. Because it was so odd to me, meaning there were no pairs and no strings of common suits, I consulted a book to see what I could do to make sense of the hand. I saw the Thirteen Orphans and decided to try. About six moves later I got the mahjong.

I sent this photo to Steve in the Shenzhen office and asked if he would check with some of the staff that play mahjong to help me score the hand. They said it was a great and of high scoring value, but it did not come out until a week or two later that they actually undrestood that I had won with the hand. A few jaws dropped in amazment. Victor said, ” I have been playing mahjong my whole life and have never seen that hand.”

After that win, all other hands seem mundane.Now, I am spoiled.

A winning hand

A winning hand

Wok Wednesdays

I was really happy to see this dish on the list of upcoming recipes. Having been to Macau several times in the last six months, I am in love with the merging of Chinese and Portuguese flavors. I wrote about our first visit to Macau in March of this year if you are interested.

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I really loved this dish. Just like the Burmese chicken, I love the layers of flavor. Usually not a big fan of coconut milk in most recipes, however, I was pleased with and the creaminess that it provided for the sauce. I used smoked paprika instead of sweet and was very happy with the flavoring there. And unlike the the basmati rice from last recipe, I found it easy to obtain Spanish chorizo. I opted for the mild, but I am sorry that I did. I would have liked it a bit spicer, but the cured meat complimented the chicken well.  Surely we will enjoy this dish again.

If you want to try making this dish and many other wonderful stir-fry recipes, check out Grace Young’s Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge and join Wok Wednesdays which can be found on Facebook or at http://wokwednesdays.wordpress.com/

 

The ruins of St. Paul World Heritage Site

The ruins of St. Paul Macau