Congee is the mother of all East Asian comfort foods. It can be featured in an exquisite banquet, be a lunch to soothe a busy day, or be the ultimate staple food to nurse the sick back to health. Hong Kongers have perfected the art of making congee and created an entire genre of the rice gruel dish, complete with distinct recipes and a list of must-have side dishes. There is a special charm dining into a congee meal in a private home, and we were glad to be invited by Peggy and Angelica to lunch during our stay in Hong Kong!
Peggy, the lady of the house, is passionate about eating and cooking healthy. While being proud that Hong Kong is home to an exciting spread of cuisine, she believes home-cooking is a much healthier option and is determined to share her own home-cooking with her family and friends. So she partnered up with her long time friend Angelica, and often invited guests to her home for a hearty meal.
On a Saturday afternoon, we made our way to Tin Hau, a small district in metropolitan Causeway Bay that is known for its temple of the same name. When we entered Peggy’s apartment, we found it to be spacious and comfortable. To our amusement, there was classic Cantonese songs playing in the house. What a great way to create a “true local atmosphere”!
While Peggy and her helper worked to put together the last few dishes for lunch, Angelica told us the work had actually started the day before. The radish cake were home-made, and Peggy had to start steaming them a day prior to our lunch to get it ready in time.
Our friendly hosts decked the dining table with food while we sipped on our tea. Peggy had prepared congee cooked with dry pak choi and salted pork bone for our meal that day. While most Hong Kongers have savoury congee on its own in restaurants, congee is served with a number of side dishes in a home setting.
So Peggy also prepared stir-fried mushroom, beans and pork, stir-fried choi sum, steamed meatballs, pan-fried radish cake (which she steamed a day before), and some extra stir-fried hor fun (rice pasta) with meat and vegetables.
There seems to be another ritual in Hong Kong when one eats congee – always pair it with pickled vegetables and preserved eggs. Peggy and Angelica prepared some pickled vegetables, pickled ginger, salted duck eggs, century eggs, and fermented tofu for us to eat with the congee. It was delish.
Peggy said on other days she would teach her guests how to pickle ginger, and gave them jars of their work to bring home. She then showed us the specific type of ginger required for this job – fresh young ginger that is only available during the summer period.
It was a really enjoyable and pleasant evening. Our hosts are truly a power pair – whenever Peggy is busy in the kitchen, Angelica would chat with us to make us feel at home. Anyone looking for a truly Hong Kong-style hospitality should check out Peggy and Angelica’s Cantonese Lunch in Causeway Bay!