The Origins of Some of Hong Kong’s Most Adored Delicacies

Hana Davis wrote . . . . . . .

Some foods are as integral to the fabric of Hong Kong life as the oxygen that rushes through our veins.

But the colourful background and inspiration for many local dishes are often ignored in the rush to consume, or avoid, whatever is on the table. City Weekend explores the origins of some of Hong Kong’s most adored delicacies to discover why they are so loved.

Medicinal foods

Certain foods and drinks are consumed by Hongkongers as part of a long tradition of Chinese medicine and beliefs about the human body. Foods are categorised into one of four types of qi, or “energy flow”, depending on their function within the human body. Those that are cooling cleanse the body of heat. Conversely, warm foods keep out the cold. The Chinese believe that the type of food you consume should be guided by your own body’s level of coolness or warmth.

Liang cha: Whether bought from a local tea stand or boiled by mothers at home, most Hongkongers grew up on the bittersweet dark brown liang cha, a drink consumed in particular in the summer months when the stifling heat makes the need for a cooling drink greater. The tea is made by boiling herbs from traditional Chinese medicine as a way to relieve the humidity and heat within the human body – hence the Chinese name liang cha, or cooling tea.

Post-dinner oranges: Family meals are often followed by a plate of fruit, which more often than not includes juicy sliced oranges. The cooling nature of oranges helps alleviate the heat from the meal just eaten. Moreover, oranges regulate the circulation of the body’s qi, stimulate the stomach to promote digestion and benefit the liver and spleen. Maybe gorging yourself on a plate of oranges despite being absolutely stuffed from dinner has its benefits after all.

Lotus root: Sweet in flavour but cool in nature, lotus root is a staple of many Chinese soups, medicines and dishes. It has long been applauded by Chinese medicine practitioners for having so many benefits for the human body, and is said to have many curative powers including the ability to stop bleeding and ease nerves. Lotus root is also said to help decrease toxic materials in the intestine. It is a summer food.

East meets West

Many highlights of Hong Kong cuisine are relics of decades of British colonial rule. The local food scene owes much to the influence of colonisation, with delicacies such as egg tarts, milk tea, meat pies and club sandwiches a regular feature of life in the city. With a lot of food being a Cantonese-Western hybrid, some dishes have colourful origins despite their apparent common nature. Most can be found at any neighbourhood cha chaan teng, or tea cafe.

Egg tarts: Anyone who has ever set foot in Hong Kong has undoubtedly tried these creamy, eggy delights. Egg tarts, or daan taat, are a sweet baked street snack consisting of an outer pastry or pie crust filled with egg custard. Egg tarts were first introduced to Hong Kong’s cha chaan teng in the 1940s, having been brought over from Macau, which was then under Portuguese rule. The British also introduced their cold custard tarts in bakeries, and the early Hongkongers took this idea and ran with it, producing the steamy Eurasian treat everyone knows and loves today. They have since developed with different fillings – milk, coconut, egg white and even sweet cheese.

Breakfast: While not at all a healthy start to the day, Hong Kong-style breakfasts are an undeniable staple of the local cuisine. Macaroni noodles in broth, runny scrambled eggs, meat, bread and Hong Kong-style milk tea are the unchangeable backbone of the morning for many. A local variant on the traditional full English breakfast, the local version is eaten at all times of the day. The combination of foods is said to have arisen after the second world war when Hongkongers wanted to make a more affordable, localised version of the expensive British treat.

Yuen yeung: This hybrid of seven parts Hong Kong-style milk tea and three parts coffee is another staple. The name refers to mandarin ducks, the emblem of love in Chinese culture. The birds appear in pairs with the male and female looking markedly different to symbolise two seemingly incompatible items coming together in harmony. The drink again finds its roots in colonial Hong Kong when locals and British alike wanted a more caffeinated version of the already popular milk tea. Moreover, according to traditional Chinese medicine, tea is cold in nature and coffee is hot, thus, a mixture of the two yields a neutral beverage.

Getting festive

At the heart of each Chinese cultural tradition and festival is the promotion of auspicious and prosperous times by bringing families and friends together around a table full of food. The significance of traditional foods to Hongkongers cannot be understated. From longevity buns and niangao (new year cakes) to zongzi (glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings) and mooncakes, each dish has a colourful back story and a vibrant present-day tradition.

Mooncake: August marks the beginning of the mooncake buying craze in Hong Kong since the food is a symbol of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The roundness of mooncakes represents completeness and eternity, symbolising family reunion and a bright future. Traditionally mooncakes have been made up of a thin crust filled with lotus seed paste and one or more salted egg yolks, to be eaten in small wedges accompanied by tea. It’s become customary for friends and families to exchange mooncakes with one another as a symbol of their continued union. These days, mooncakes contain a wide array of fillings – custard, red bean, chocolate, coconut paste and even ice cream.

Dumplings: The tradition of standing elbow deep in flour and dough to wrap dumplings at home as a family on Lunar New Year’s Eve is a familiar one to many. They are eaten over the Lunar New Year period because the word for dumpling in Chinese sounds like bidding farewell to the old and ushering in the new. Because the shape of dumplings resembles traditional Chinese silver ingots, the number eaten is supposed to correlate with the wealth one will accumulate in the new year. Dumpling fillings come with different meanings, and the fuller a dumpling is, the more prosperous the new year is said to be.

Tang yuan: As glowing lanterns sway in the night sky, Hongkongers tuck into warm bowls of these sweet glutinous rice balls. The Lantern Festival is typically on the 15th day of the new lunar year when the moon is at its fullest. The roundness of tang yuan, which sounds like the Chinese word for reunion, is a symbol for familial harmony, unity and prosperity during the new moon. They are traditionally filled with sesame, red bean or peanut.

Source: SCMP


Lamb Burger with Cheese and Olive


1/4 oz butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
7 oz ground lamb
1/4 cup roughly chopped pitted black olives
1/4 cup fetta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon oregano leaves
sea salt and cracked black pepper
olive oil for shallow frying
1-1/2 oz baby spinach leaves
2 soft bread rolls
1 vine-ripened tomato, sliced


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Remove and cool slightly.
  3. Combine the lamb, olives, fetta, oregano, salt, pepper and onions. Divide the mixture into 2 and shape into patties.
  4. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying over medium heat until hot. Add the patties and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
  5. To assemble, place the spinach leaves on the rolls and top with the tomato and lamb patties.

Makes 2 servings.

Source: Donna Hay

Fast Food’s First Ever 100% Ribeye Burger from Jack in the Box

There are two versions of the premium burgers: the All American Ribeye and the Havarti & Grilled Onion Ribeye.

The American Ribeye burger features 100% ribeye meat, red onion, and sliced tomato. It’s topped with Provolone cheese, mayonnaise, and hand-leafed lettuce on an artisan potato bun.

The Havarti & Grilled Onion Ribeye features the ribeye patty, tomato, grilled onions, mayo, Havarti cheese, and a savory red wine glaze sauce.

The burgers are available at participating stores for a limited time.

5 Ways to Practice Mindfulness

Maura Hohman wrote . . . . . . .

When you have a full schedule, multitasking might seem like the best way to finish your endless to-do list.

But the brain actually benefits from focusing on one activity at a time.

When you commit to training your attention and exerting control over your mind, you’re practicing mindfulness. While it has become a popular psychotherapy technique, mindfulness originated in Buddhism over 2,000 years ago.

The idea of mindfulness is that life should be lived in the present moment. In addition to improving your focus, the practice can bring stress and insomnia relief, and pain reduction.


One explanation comes from a study published in the journal Psychiatry Research. The study found that mindfulness can change the concentration of gray matter in areas of the brain involved in learning, memory, regulating emotion and more.

Yoga and tai chi are two mind-body practices that help increase mindfulness along with their physical and relaxation benefits.

There’s also mindfulness meditation, a very focused approach developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn. He is creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

However, you don’t need a formal program to incorporate mindfulness into your day. Here are some ideas:

  • When you start a task, imagine you’re doing it for the first time. Be curious. Feel sensations like you’ve never experienced them before.
  • Focus on your breathing. Take notice as you breathe in and as you breathe out. Follow your breath. It’s a reminder that you’re alive.
  • When you’re overcome with emotion, take a step back and trace the emotion’s origin and duration. Mindfulness teaches recognition that emotions are fleeting, which helps to reduce fear and anxiety.
  • Embrace imperfection. Once you understand that the world is filled with it, it becomes less upsetting.
  • Always try to immerse yourself in your surroundings; this helps you be present and connect with the world around you.

Source: HealthDay

‘Squirtable’ Elastic Surgical Glue Seals Wounds in 60 Seconds

A highly elastic and adhesive surgical glue that quickly seals wounds without the need for common staples or sutures could transform how surgeries are performed.

Biomedical engineers from the University of Sydney and the United States collaborated on the development of the potentially life-saving surgical glue, called MeTro.

MeTro’s high elasticity makes it ideal for sealing wounds in body tissues that continually expand and relax – such as lungs, hearts and arteries – that are otherwise at risk of re-opening.

The material also works on internal wounds that are often in hard-to-reach areas and have typically required staples or sutures due to surrounding body fluid hampering the effectiveness of other sealants.

MeTro sets in just 60 seconds once treated with UV light, and the technology has a built-in degrading enzyme which can be modified to determine how long the sealant lasts – from hours to months, in order to allow adequate time for the wound to heal.

The liquid or gel-like material has quickly and successfully sealed incisions in the arteries and lungs of rodents and the lungs of pigs, without the need for sutures and staples.

The results were published in Science Translational Medicine, in a paper by the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and Faculty of Science; Boston’s Northeastern University, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston.

MeTro combines the natural elastic protein technologies developed in collaboration with author and University of Sydney McCaughey Chair in Biochemistry Professor Anthony Weiss, with light sensitive molecules developed in collaboration with author and Director of the Biomaterials Innovation Research Center at Harvard Medical School Professor Ali Khademhosseini.

Lead author of the study, Assistant Professor Nasim Annabi from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University, oversaw the application of MeTro in a variety of clinical settings and conditions.

“The beauty of the MeTro formulation is that, as soon as it comes in contact with tissue surfaces, it solidifies into a gel-like phase without running away,” she said.

“We then further stabilise it by curing it on-site with a short light-mediated crosslinking treatment. This allows the sealant to be very accurately placed and to tightly bond and interlock with structures on the tissue surface.”

The University of Sydney’s Professor Anthony Weiss described the process as resembling that of silicone sealants used around bathroom and kitchen tiles.

“When you watch MeTro, you can see it act like a liquid, filling the gaps and conforming to the shape of the wound,” he said.

“It responds well biologically, and interfaces closely with human tissue to promote healing. The gel is easily stored and can be squirted directly onto a wound or cavity.

“The potential applications are powerful – from treating serious internal wounds at emergency sites such as following car accidents and in war zones, as well as improving hospital surgeries.”

Professor Khademhosseini from Harvard Medical School was optimistic about the study’s findings.

“MeTro seems to remain stable over the period that wounds need to heal in demanding mechanical conditions and later it degrades without any signs of toxicity; it checks off all the boxes of a highly versatile and efficient surgical sealant with potential also beyond pulmonary and vascular suture and staple-less applications,” he said.

The next stage for the technology is clinical testing, Professor Weiss said.

“We have shown MeTro works in a range of different settings and solves problems other available sealants can’t. We’re now ready to transfer our research into testing on people. I hope MeTro will soon be used in the clinic, saving human lives.”

Source: The University of Sydney

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