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Tai O – An architectural masterpiece – Photodiary

This week we visited the little known architectural wonder that is Tai O fishing village in Hong Kong. A fishing village built entirely on stilts, visited mainly buy tourists wanting to purchase dried fish and eat local snacks. But look a little further, delve into the back streets and you will find a community that has built (and is still building) an entire village on stilts in the inlet of the South China sea. Here is our photo diary of a quiet Sunday spent exploring the structures that seem to defy gravity, and watching the villagers build new structures and maintain the old houses. Tai Po eclectic east15

Tai Po eclectic east11 Tai Po eclectic east7 Tai Po eclectic east4 Tai Po eclectic east16 Tai Po eclectic east14 Tai Po eclectic east13 Tai Po eclectic east12Tai Po eclectic east Tai Po eclectic east10 Tai Po eclectic east9 Tai Po eclectic east8 Tai Po eclectic east5Tai Po eclectic east2Tai Po eclectic east6Tai Po eclectic east7Tai Po eclectic east3

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Festive Friday Food Post – Traditional Christmas Pudding with Thai Rum and Candied Yuzu Peel

Our Friday food post has gone festive this week with a traditional christmas pudding. We have a little twist of course! Eclectic East Christmas puddingYou might think Thai Rum (known as Sang Som) is better suited to being drunk from buckets on a beach in Koh Phangan in the glow of the full moon, and you might be right! But we challenge you to change your preconceptions about and give this a go – it might bring back some happy memories! Our second unusual ingredient is candied yuzu peel. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit with a milder zest than a lemon or lime – the candied version is quite mellow and adds a nice depth of flavour to this pudding.

Eclectic East Christmas pudding tahi rum and japanese yuzu

Eclectic East Christmas pudding ingredientsWe can’t take credit for this winning recipe. It comes courtesy of the failsafe Delia Smith – you can find it here. We can only take credit for adding the Yuzu and Thai Rum which certainly gives the pudding an Eclectic East kick. If you want to try the same, substitute the rum for Sang Som and sustitute the candied peel for yuzu candied peel.

Eclectic East Christmas pudding thai rum

Garnish your pudding with some yuzu peel (shown below) and serve with flames powered by Sang Som rum and some brandy (or Sang Som!) butter.

Eclectic East Christmas pudding2Ours is currently wrapped in brown paper and waiting for the big day. We can’t wait – Merry Christmas!

Eclectic East Christmas pudding wrapped

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Shosa by No No Yes – Leather origami wallet

Here at Eclectic East, we love the excitement of coming across an innovative brand creating beautiful products. So when we found the shosa wallets from Japanese brand No No Yes we knew we had to share it with you.

shosa_by_nonoyesNo No Yes was created by designers Taichiro Hashimoto and Makoto Kawamura in 2006. They put together their passion for design and their love of leather to create a clothing and accessories brand which specialises in Leather. They chose leather because of it’s longevity but also because it gave them the chance to use traditional craftsmanship to create unique products that used contemporary styling together with age old processes.

shosa-leather-card-case (1)Their Shosa (meaning wallet in Japanese) range cleverly utilises the Japanese paper folding techniques of origami to create wallets from a single piece of leather. Innovation, style, tradition and exquisite craftmanship all rolled into one – simply stunning.

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shosa-leather-short-walletWe found our Shosa in Konzepp in Sheung Wan in Hong Kong. Click on the No No Yes link above for a stockist in your area.

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Friday Food Post – Asian Mushroom and Mackerel Spaghetti

I have been at the markets again today and found all sorts of different mushrooms. It inspired me to make this delicious pasta recipe – a little east meets west – this is the Eclectic East after all!

pasta4I am lucky enough to have some of the really special mushrooms (the kind that cost the earth in the UK) available in the local markets, if you don’t have these types of mushrooms available you could substitute with what you can find. market mushroomsIngredients – Serves 4-6

  • 500gms Spaghetti
  • Half a red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Handfuls of oyster mushrooms
  • 1 handful of enoki mushrooms
  • 5 large shitake mushrooms
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 3 Tablespoons of creme fraiche
  • 2 grilled mackerel fillets
  • A bunch of fresh dill

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Method

1. Fill a large bowl with water and set it on the stove to boil

2. Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic.

3. pour the olive oil into a large flat pan and allow to warm, now add the chopped onion and garlic and cook over a gentle heat to allow them to soften.

pasta174. Once the onion has turned transparent and soft (as in the picture here) you are ready to add your some mushrooms.

pasta165. Chop the shitake mushrooms into cubes as shown here and then roughly chop the oyster mushrooms (so they are in smaller chunks and will blend well with the rest of the sauce).

pasta147. Add the shitake and oyster mushrooms into the pan with the onions and garlic on a medium heat – hold back the enoki mushrooms because they are so delicate they only need to go in at the last minute. Sometimes the oil can get very absorbed into the mushrooms at this stage and the pan begins to feel dry, you don’t want it to catch and burn so if it feels dry drizzle a little more olive oil into the pan here. Keep the ingredients moving, they will start to reduce down.

pasta138. By now your big pan of water should be boiling, place the pasta into it and push down so that it is all under the water. Set your timer so the amount of time specified on the packet.

pasta129. When the mushroom mix has reduced in size add the lemon zest and juice into the pan. Let it absorb a bit and then add in the white wine. Allow it to bubble and burn off the alcohol and then reduce the heat.

pasta11 pasta910. Drain the pasta when the timer goes off and allow to drain.

pasta811. Now add the enoki mushrooms and stir well into the other ingredients.

pasta712. Once all mixed in, flake the mackerel and add to the mix.

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13. Lastly add the creme fraiche and dill and stir everything together ensuring that the sauce is creamy and loose. If it feels a little dry at this stage add a tablespoon of water to loosen it all up again.

14. Finally add the pasta to the sauce and stir well with the pasta spoon to make sure the sauce it fully coating all the spaghetti.

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Serve immediately on the table for everyone to share family style. Enjoy.

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Crosswaters ecolodge – striking architecture in China

Part of me feels like I shouldn’t post this….. I want to keep it a secret so it stays quiet, calm and unspoilt forever. But it is too beautiful not to share, you are in for a treat!

eclectic east crosswaters3Earlier this month Eclectic East took a mini break to crosswaters ecolodge. Nestled amid swaying bamboo forests in the valleys of the Nankunshan Mountain Reserve in Guandong province, it is so far removed from the hustle, bustle and pollution of urban China, it was easy to forget that it was only a few hours drive from Hong Kong. Designed by EDSA, the architecture considers local materials and the flowing landscape whilst still creating structures and spaces that feel contemporary and avant garde. The scheme was constructed using local and recycled materials that were all on the site. Bamboo is something that you get used to seeing in construction when you live in Asia but this lodge is exceptional, the use of bamboo brings together traditional materials with striking design which beautifully and simply expresses the structural elements of it’s form. eclectic east crosswaters6

eclectic east crosswaters2eclectic east crosswaters10eclectic east crosswaters12Windows that fully opened up to the cool forest outside brought in the wonderful mountain air, traditional bamboo screening the use of reflective pools are all designed to create a resort that feels contemporary in a way that doesn’t intrude on the landscape around it.

eclectic east crosswaters11So what did Mr and Mrs Eclectic East do all weekend other than admire the wonderful architecture? Well… firstly we ate very well indeed! All the food in the resort is locally sourced so mountain frog (yes really!) and river fish are specialities of the lodge – very tasty indeed! Not surprisingly bamboo is also on the menu which is delicious and very good for your health apparently. Whilst we weren’t eating we enjoyed swimming in the natural swimming pool in the river, hiking in the surrounding hills, yogaing on our balcony overlooking the river and simply enjoying the swaying bamboo trees and imagining we were in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

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When the sun went down and we had eaten too many frogs and drunk some very bad wine (suggest taking your own if you visit!) we climbed the resort’s very own star gazing tower and were dazzled by the beautiful twinkly sky and thought how lucky we were to have found this little bit of paradise in the mountains.

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Friday Food Post – 15 Greens Salad

Here at Eclectic East, we love food; eating it, and also making it. One of the best things about living in Asia is all the delicious foods that we get to eat all the time and the abundance of interesting ingredients. We have decided to bring you a bit of Eclectic East cooking by way of a Friday food post – maybe you can give our recipes a try over the weekend. This week we bring you the 15 greens salad with feta and seeds, this is a hearty and healthy salad. The dressing is quite Asian in flavour and marries well with the assortment of greens, the feta adds a tang and a different texture – we can’t get enough of it!

15 greens salad14So often I hear westerners in Hong Kong complaining that food is so expensive. This is not a lie if you need to use imported ingredients in your cooking. I became fed up with paying above the odds to use western ingredients and focused instead on cooking with as many local ingredients as I could (well, a girl’s gotta have pasta!). It has been an exciting challenge and means I can make use of the wonderful markets with copious amounts of fresh food that hasn’t flown thousands of miles to sit at our table. Today I have been to the market and sourced an array of Asian greens (Hong Kong markets are literally bursting at the seams with green stuff!) from which I am going to make a very tasty and healthy salad. Don’t worry if you aren’t living in Asia, as with most of my recipes, this one is pretty flexible so I have mentioned some switches below if you cannot get hold of some of the weird and wonderful veggies that we have in Hong Kong.

market greens1 market greens2 market greens3 market greens4Ingredients – this will make a lot of salad, enough for 4 people as a main course or 8 as a side, it should keep in the fridge for a day or so but it is best eaten on the first day.

salad ingredients

For the Salad

  • Half a head of brocoli
  • A handful of snakebeans (or french beans if you cannot get hold of snake beans)
  • A bunch of spinach
  • A large bunch of fresh mint
  • A large bunch of fresh coriander
  • A handful of Choi Sum (these are Chinese vegetables, if you cannot get them you could try using sprouting brocoli instead)
  • One green bell pepper
  • A nice ripe avocado
  • One cup of edamame (boiled and de-shelled) If you cannot get edamame try broad beans instead.
  • 2 mini cucumbers (or one large cucumber)
  • A handful of baby asparagus spears
  • A handful of green bean sprouts

For the dressing

  • A thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 2 large green chillies (if you don’t like spicy food then you can reduce this)
  • 2 spring onions
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 5 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons of Chianking vingear (if you cannot get this then balsamic could work I think)
  • 4 Tablespoons of light soy sauce (the kind used for sushi)

For the topping

  • A handful of pumpkin seeds
  • A Handful of sunflower seeds
  • Half a packet of feta cheese

Method 

1. If your edamame are not already cooked and de-shelled, place them in a large pan of boiling water and allow to cook for 10-15 mins until the beans are tender and come out of their shells easily.

2. Meanwhile make your dressing. Chop the ginger, chilles and spring onion very finely and place in a medium sized bowl.15 greens salad2

Add the sesame oil, vinegar, lemon and lime juice and then soy sauce and mix all together. Leave to stand whilst you prepare the salad.

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3. Your Edamame should be cooked by now, so drain them and de-shell them. This part is a bit tedious but it is well worth it because they are yummy and nutritious!

15 greens salad3 15 greens salad64. Now finely chop all the remaining ingredients. It is really important to slice really really finely because they are going to be raw in the salad. If you chop them too large they won’t blend well together and also won’t absorb enough of the delicious dressing that you made.

15 greens salad7 15 greens salad85. When all the ingredients are sliced, put them together in a large mixing bowl and combine together with your hands.

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6. Once combined, add the dressing and stir really well with a spoon, ensuring that all the greens are well coated with the dressing.

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15 greens salad107. Finally, you can place on a serving dish and crumble the feta and sprinkle the seeds on top.

15 greens salad148. This works as a light main course (if you want to be very healthy) or why not try as a side with a grilled mackerel fillet – as shown below.

15 greens salad15Happy eating!

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Chop Chop!

Here at Eclectic East, we are working on some artwork that is inspired by our life in Hong Kong.We love the tradition of the Chinese stone chops and plan to use them to create contemporary printed artwork.

chops in box

chops

The chops are carved by hand with the designs that you request. Traditionally you would have a chop made with your name and this would be used in correspondence. It is still a tradition which continues today, but now Hongkongers also use this traditional craft to create logos and other modern designs.

examples

As with many things in Hong Kong, the tradition lives on and there is still a street devoted to it which is aptly named – chop street!

chop street

I found Mr Ng’s shop and he helped me to chose chops which were auspicious and held significance to me.

top chops mr ng

We chose the Pheonix and Dragon which is a very auspicious symbol in Chinese culture. There is a saying in Chinese which is “When the dragon soars and the phoenix dances, the people will enjoy happiness for years, bringing peace and tranquility to all under heaven.” So I am very happy to take that! Secondly we chose the Monkey which is my birth sign. According to the Chinese zodiac people born in this sign are Lively, quick-witted, versatile and creative – hope I can live up to this! Lastly we chose the Lion which Mr Ng simply told me was “very happy”! Having looked this up since I have seen it is known as the king of animals and is seen as a symbol of power and protection. So with those three it seems I am all sorted for protection, happiness and creativity – what more does a girl need!

my chops

Once I told Mr Ng the words that I wanted on each chop he drew them by hand which he used as a guide for his carving. He is a true craftsman and can carve the most intricate designs. I hope this is a tradition which continues and doesn’t die out with a new generation.

writing on chop

print

I went back to pick up my chops once Mr Ng had had time to carve them all. He did such a beautiful job and even showed me how to use the traditional ink to create the prints. Here is a sneak peek of the designs I chose, this one means I love Hong Kong! It is shown reflected obviously but it gives you an idea of Mr Ng’s skill in this long tradition. Long may that continue.

colour adding

i love hong kong