Sunday, November 10, 2013

Three Stuffed Treasures

Hong Kong, one of the most vibrant cities on the planet, is well-known for being a street food hot spot. Many a street-food-lover has made a pilgrimage to the chaotic streets of downtown Hong Kong to explore the best snacks the city has to offer. Unfortunately, like some of China's similarly cosmopolitan cities, it is sometimes tricky to find the street foods that are unique to Hong Kong's culture. You can find vendors selling foods from all sorts of cities (both Chinese and non-Chinese), and it becomes difficult to distinguish which foods originated in Hong Kong and which ones didn't. Nonetheless, careful eaters will be able to find a few terrific local dishes. Of those local Hong Kong street foods, this one, 煎酿三宝 (jiān niàng sān băo), is my personal favorite.

As is the case with many of Hong Kong’s skewered street foods, you are presented with an array of meats and vegetables from which you can choose three to five. The most traditional choices are eggplant, green pepper, sausage, and tofu, but you may find other options as well.

Whichever you choose, the vendor will skewer them up and fry them on a flat griddle, making them hot, lightly crispy on the fringes, and shiny with oil. Ordinarily, this much alone would not be enough to merit its place as my favorite street food in Hong Kong. What makes it special is that each vegetable or piece of meat is stuffed with a salty, savory paste made out of mud carp. This paste adds a lovely and surprising fish flavor to each of the components.  With this added secret, these vegetables and meat become an unusual and very pleasant taste experience. Each morsel is rich and greasy, with flavors and textures distinct from its neighbors, making it one of the finest treats available on the streets of Hong Kong.


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