Friday, November 30, 2012

Peanut & Black Sesame Candy and a Trip to Hong Kong

Finally, I have my promised post about my trip to Hong Kong ready for you. Of course I wanted to make a matching dessert. The obvious choice for me was my favorite egg tart, but I already made it here. I love Chinese food, and even though the desserts are very different and might not look as appetizing on first sight there are some really nice treats to discover.

My choice to make came to Peanut and Black Sesame Candy, you can see them everywhere in Hong Kong in the markets, in department stores, and on the street. They make a great snack, and in the right package, they make perfect gifts for any occasion.

But let me tell you about my recent experience in Hong Kong. I have been to many cities in Asia, but none held the mystique and intrigue like Hong Kong. The "Pearl of the Orient" or "Asia's World City", as it is called.  I have been wanting to travel to Hong Kong for a very long time. Long before I met my husband, who was born there, but left with his family when he was a child.

For him it was the first time going back after almost 25 years. To my surprise he was right at home, and his aunts, uncles, and cousins and nephews were also very enthusiastic towards him, as if he never left. I also felt very welcomed by my new found family, and they are all very warm towards us. So, you can imagine I fell right in love with this city.

Everybody has images of Hong Kong in his head, the enormous skyscrapers, the high population density, the ultimate shopping streets, the beautiful harbor, the peak and other well known landmarks. What I didn't expect was the beautiful nature, almost empty beaches, long hiking trails in lush green surroundings, crystal clear waters and almost rural village live.

We were lucky to stay longer than the typical 3-5 nights that most people do, and I recommend it to everyone to get away from Hong Kong Island and visit some of the surroundings, like the many beautiful islands and the New Territories.

Of course, the food was amazing. In Sai Kung for example, you can buy the seafood directly from the fishing boats and have it prepared at nearby restaurants. The meal we had there was probably one of the best I have ever had.

You can find all kinds regional Chinese cuisines in abundance. We had everything from Peking duck to Shanghainese Xiao Long Bao to Hong Kongs own Dim Sum. If you are tired of Chinese food, which is hard to imagine in Hong Kong, there are still a lot of choices of every international cuisine at all levels. Not to forget the beautiful pastry shops, which you can find in any shopping mall or big name hotels.

I also liked to visit the different temples in Hong Kong, there are big and small ones, old and new, some hidden, some surrounded by beautiful nature, some crowded with people seeking good fortune.

Getting around in Hong Kong was really easy. I have not seen a public transportation system anywhere which was so efficient, modern, clean and all that at a reasonable price. Well, every guide book will tell you this anyhow, but really get an Octopus Card, if you go to Hong Kong. It makes everything very easy, you can use it for bus, metro, ferry, tram and even to get a coffee.

We had a wonderful time, and I hope you like all my pictures. I can't wait to go back soon!

Coming back to the recipe, it is quite simple. Just pour hot sugar syrup on top of a container full of peanuts, and black sesame seeds if available, or substitute with regular sesame. Cut them into small pieces once it is cooled slightly, but not totally hardened. They are crunchy, but not too sweet. Don't worry about using the vinegar, you will not taste it later. Put them in satchels or cellophane bags, and they make perfect Christmas gifts.

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