Summer heat can be unbearable sometimes, the hotter it is, the less we're inclined to eat. This is how we feel about eating under the scorching sun. Luckily enough, we have sampled some of the more appetite-inducing dishes at Intercontinental Grand Stanford's Chinese Restaurant Hoi King Heen, where executive chef Fai Hung Leung (Chef Leung) introduces an array of flowers, teas and fruits in his summery creations, kicking the stomach blues away.
"To improve on that uneasy feeling we have in our system due to the hot weather in the summer, we must start with the food we eat," explained Chef Leung, whose tenure at the Hoi King Heen has garned him International recognition based on not only his respect to traditional Cantonese cuisine and his new, creative takes on contemporary ingredients and execution. Chef Leung explained that the upside of introducing flowers, teas, and fruits is certainly an allure for the eyes, catching the diner's attention to sample something new and different. The fruit element, sometimes tarter and more refreshing, will contribute in both sharper colours and flavours to the dish made.
"Sautéed sea whelks, cashew nuts and green mangoes" may look like a simple stir-fry dish, yet it is important to understand the core ingredient - Thai Green Mangoes, with its tartness and extra crunchy texture, must be cooked briefly with a little stock and sugar to rid of the fruit's bitterness. The stir-frying part after is easy, just a quick few whirls on the hot wok with slices of whelk meat, asparagus spears, and a sprinkle of crunchy cashews and the dish is ready to serve. The tang of green mangoes are extremely appetizing and refreshing for the summer even when it's served hot.
While it is difficult to keep the perfumed aroma of a blooming flower, it is even harder to transpose the aroma onto cuisines. Chef Leung, however, has a way to share with diners. In order to capture the floral essence of blossoms, chef Leung would rinse the petals in water, then deep fried until glossy and crisp, followed by a light sprinkling of sugar that coats the exterior like a glaze. The sugar will not only rid of any bitterness, but will also capture the flavor of the flower all within each crisp petal.
Chef Leung's "Roasted sliced chicken with orange peels, rose sauce and cucumber" is an inspiring creation matching roses with orange. The item to note is not just the crispy deep fried chicken, but the sharp and citrusy sauce with rose metals. The burgundy-coloured rose petals not only perfume the sauce, but they also add a red hue to the finished glaze. The finished marriage of fruit and flower is intoxicatingly rich but just thick enough to coat each piece of chicken without the overpowering presence of either the orange or the rose.
"Braised sliced duck with sunflowers and spinach" is not what you think it is. It's not named because it looks like a blooming sunflower from the top. There really is sunflowers inside. Here's how. Chef Leung braised duck breasts with fermented bean paste, aromatics like ginger and scallions, and get this, a bloom of sunflower. (Yes, the entire flower) The addition of sunflower will infuse the braising liquid with the floral aroma. The duck breast would absorb the sweet essence of the flower. The seasonal use of spinach is accentuated here at the base before slices of duck breasts are fanned out from above, followed by sprinkles of deep-fried Sunflower petals, golden, sweet, and crisp. The duck breast, braised until tender, bears a light floral aroma but mostly sweet throughout. The reduced sauce is particularly great with the spinach beneath.
Instead of using traditional "Dragon-well" Green tea, Chef Leung's "Wok-fried shrimp with jasmine tea leaves in spicy salt" adopts jasmine tea leaves instead. Shrimps are marinated with jasmine tea before they are deep fried until crispy. A quick toss in the wok with scallions and garlic and a drizzle of jasmine tea will ensure the tea clinging on the shrimps, which are crunchy but richly flavoured with the aromatic Jasmine tea.
The "Refreshing Summer Delights" menu at Hoi King Heen is available from now until August 31. Another sweet-and-sour signature at Hoi King Heen is a new dessert addition from its dessert menu. The "Chilled Hawthorn Rolls" is the purest puce, with a glistening leathery gloss on top. Hawthorn berries are mixed with Waterchestnut flour and water to make a thin batter and steamed until a uniform "skin" is formed. Rolling up the sheet of skin and you get this gelatinous, sweet-and-sour dessert. The tartness from Hawthorn berries stands out with its fruitiness. It is a refreshing dessert after a full meal at the restaurant.