Christine was a Chinese teacher both in Hong Kong and Australia for many years. Recently, she decided to make a change in her life and started blogging and tweeting about food and cooking. As a result, she now spends more time on the internet and presenting her dishes for photographing.
How has your cultural heritage influenced you and your cooking?
I was born and brought up in Hong Kong. My cooking ways and eating habits are heavily influenced by my parents who come from a traditional Chinese heritage. Nearly all the Chinese dishes I have been cooking were handed down from my parents, some of them were cooked with tweaks, inspired by cookbooks that I bought in Hong Kong many years ago.
What have you learned about food from your family?
My parents are down-right adventurous eaters who believe that if something is not poison, it can be eaten. Let alone the healthy foods, they would grab every opportunity to intrigue me to try some. My parents are traditional Chinese eaters. When it comes to cooking any Chinese dishes, my father in particular would request to follow the traditional way of cooking in order to taste the most authentic dishes. As I was brought up in a modernised and multicultural city, I found myself gravitating towards cooking the traditional Chinese dishes in a modern way.
What family recipe do you most like to cook?
The slow-cooked brisket in Chou Hou paste is my family’s all time favourite that I love to cook throughout the year. It’s best known as a Cantonese comfort food in winter. The melt-in-mouth beef brisket goes fantastic with steamed rice and noodles.
How much do you think multicultural cuisines have influenced the Australian food scene?
I'm thrilled that more and more restaurants with different cultural backgrounds are opening in my nearby suburbs and local supermarkets are beginning to stock more exotic ingredients for home cooking - it seems that the food industry keeps growing in Australia! As a home cook, I love to see the Australian food scene flourishing with more and more diverse cuisine and new tastes.
What cuisine do you most like to cook?
The Chinese cuisine, Cantonese in particular, is the one I most like to cook. Cantonese food is typically steamed, boiled, stewed or stir-fried. So when it comes to cooking the Chinese dishes, all I need is a wok to cater for the whole family without referring to any recipes or any measurements. Only when I plan to blog a recipe, then I would measure all the ingredients that I used.
What makes this cuisine special?
The taste of authentic Chinese cuisine is far more sophisticated and delicious than those offered by Chinese takeaway restaurants. Foods and cooking are very important in Chinese culture and help build up social tidings. Most of the Chinese dishes are simple, easy and quick to make.
What is your secret food shame?
Sometimes I bake flourless chocolate cake on request from my daughter. The chocolate cake is divinely tasty with a rich flavour of chocolate. I can’t resist it and indulge myself, taking a big piece every time.
What ingredient can you not live without?
Salt for savory dishes and sugar for desserts. My pantry is stocked with at least a backup packet of each.
What is your favourite recipe:
My Cantonese egg tarts are always the superstar in many social gatherings of bringing a plate to share. The egg tarts are often gone very quickly.
The Stewed Beef Brisket in Chu Hou Sauce is a traditional and popular Chinese dish. It’s best served in winters with Jasmine rice or noodle soup.
For an easy weeknight dinner?
Frittata is easy to make and cook on the go. When I don’t have any energy to cook after a hectic day, I’ll think of something like zucchini and sweet potato frittata, adding a deli cut with salad as sides to fill up our empty stomachs.
What chef inspired you in your youth?
Back when I was young, there were not many celebrity chef shows on television or any cooking classes in Hong Kong. Cookbooks were not popular as well. I remembered there was a lady, called Mrs Fang, a famous home cook, who had a cooking show on Hong Kong TV that attracted many viewers at that time. She also wrote several cookbooks. A big publisher hired her to write recipes for home cooks, and I subscribed to her magazine for several years.
Tell us about your favourite food event in Australia.
Unfortunately, I haven’t got the chance to participate in any food events in Australia so far. I have just been enjoying those family-style, informal bring-a-plate of gatherings with my friends.
What is your favourite cook book, food show and cooking utensil?
My favourite cook book is Jamie Oliver’s Cook with Jamie, that was also a present from my kids given on a Mother’s Day. I’m also fond of watching Jamie’s cooking shows on TV. Tefal and Scanpan are my most favourite cooking utensils, which I nearly use everyday.
Can you tell us your favourite restaurant in your area?
When ever I crave Japanese cuisine and dine out, I’d love going to Oishii Sushi Bar. It’s very close to where I live. I have heard lots of good reports of Oishii. Some friends even rate it as the best Japanese restaurant in Brisbane, Australia.
What would you like to tell your fellow foodies?
I’d like to let them know that food blogging is a hard job, whether it be for leisure or business. From writing posts regularly, taking and editing photos, writing replies to comments/emails, social networking, to participating in any related events, all these things demand lots of time in your daily life.
So to keep a well-balanced online and offline life is very crucial for the sake of your wellbeing. Honestly, I am still learning this. Having said that, food blogging is very rewarding since I have met many wonderful people with the same mindset and learned many new things from the food blogsphere.