Right now, we are traveling. But this is still a food blog. A cooking blog, to be exact. So I’m happy this post is about our first home-cooked meal, made in a Hong Kong kitchen. Our first two homemade meals, actually—I couldn’t waste the leftovers.
At home in Seattle, I have a tiny kitchen. Or so I thought. At least compared to everyone else. But now I know, our kitchen is expansive compared to the tiny kitchen cooking that’s the norm for Hong Kong.
If you’ve heard anything about the city, it’s that the food is amazing (and cheap) and the apartments are tiny. Neither of these attributes suggest cooking as an activity while traveling there. In fact, our host, Michelle, told us only 1 in 10 guests ever use her kitchen. But while the dining scene is varied, cooking in Hong Kong has it’s own unique advantages.
Wet Market Shopping
On crowded Hong Kong Island, there are grocery stores at every corner. We used these for convenience at times. Far more exciting are the fruit stands and wet markets. I never pass up the opportunity to browse a food market while traveling. But I find more satisfaction in knowing I can buy anything I want because I have a kitchen to cook in. Cantonese prevails in Hong Kong wet markets. Still, with everything laid out before you, language doesn’t matter much. Prices are marked and so low you rarely worry about overspending. If you do get overwhelmed, simply buy exotic fruit.
We bought a bag of tangerines, mangoes and dragonfruits for about $5 US.
Simple Cooking in a Tiny Hong Kong Kitchen
Stir-fry. Simple to make and loved by everyone. We made ours with quinoa instead of rice because Michelle had extra in her pantry. I bought tofu puffs at the Shau Kei Wan wet market to eat with organic greens bought from a store the night before.
Ten minutes after the quinoa had cooked, our stir-fry was ready. Only a few seasonings were needed to finish this simple home-cooked dish. I had already added sliced garlic with the greens. At home, I would have used soy sauce. Liquid aminos was a fine alternative to add both saltiness and savoriness. I did not know about black sesame oil—it will be one of the first things I look for when I get home. The oft-forgotten acid from vinegar always brings a nice balance to vegetarian dishes. In this case, apple cider vinegar, but any will work. Salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to finish. Lucky us Michelle has sea salt and peppercorns, luxuries for the cooking traveler.
Leftovers for Breakfast
Easy and protein-packed to start the day: fried “rice” made with leftover quinoa and stir-fry. This is our leftovers from dinner with the addition of cooked eggs. We enjoyed it with more fruit from the wet market.
The Reality of Tiny Kitchen Cooking
To my surprise, cooking in a tiny Hong Kong kitchen was more fun than frustrating. I can’t speak for the long-term (yet!). But the constraints of one burner, limited supplies and hand washing forced us to simplify every step. And by us, I mean me, or I mean Matt—but I don’t mean both of us at the same time. It’s definitely a one-person kitchen.
Eating out in a new city is fun. We love to try new foods. Yet I crave more fruits and vegetables than restaurants serve. I knew from previous trips that cooking would not just be fun. Rather, it’s an essential activity to sustaining long-term travel. So I would add preparing a simple and healthy meal in a tiny Hong Kong kitchen as an experience not to be missed.