How I Roll

Sushi, probably the best-known definition of Japan and the Japanese cuisine, is definitely one of my favorite things to eat and make myself. Rather than the conventional white rice rolls and balls topped with all sorts of sea creatures, I prefer to jazz things up a bit. By “a bit” I mean skipping the rice, which technically makes these rolls not sushi, since sushi is based on su-meshi rice. Sushi or not, these rolls are as modifiable as far as your imagination goes, and my results have always been rather pleasing.

Here’s few ideas on What and How to Roll.
If you want your rolls raw, opt for ingredients that require no cooking (duh). If heating is not a problem, then you have more options to choose from. Since there is no need for washing, soaking, boiling and waiting for the rice to cool, the rolls are ready to be devoured quite quickly. Fast food at its’ best, specially if you don’t cut them!

Step 1: “Rice”
First of all, the base of the roll doesn’t need to be rice-like. You can opt for quinoa in stead of rice, or puree or chop some cauliflower into tiny bits to make it resemble rice (add some cashews for extra creaminess). Sprouts, salad or chopped cabbage work as well – the result just won’t be so conventional sushi-like. If you use cabbage, sprinkle it with some salt and squeeze excess liquid out. Mixing some chia seeds in gives more texture, but also helps to bind the moisture. If the base is too moist, it might be hard to roll and the nori might break.

Chopped veggies for filling
Chopped veggies for filling

Step 2. Veggies
Go crazy. Anything works – the more color, the prettier! Avocado gives creaminess, carrots and bell peppers are nice and crunchy, mushrooms are always good…try your favorites, but don’t over-stuff the roll – you’re supposed to be able to actually roll it (or then just eat it like a temaki handroll, but still it shouldn’t be too fat). If you wish, season the fillings with wasabi, pepper or which ever spices you wish.

Few favorite combos:
Sprouts, avocado, fresh mint and mango
Cauliflower “rice”, avocado, cucumber, red bell pepper
Salad, strawberries, cucumber, fresh basil

Cabbage-chia (mushroom powder) base with veggies, ready to be rolled
Cabbage-chia (and mushroom powder) base with veggies, ready to be rolled

Step 3: Ready to Roll
Place a nori sheet on a dry cutting board (or use sushi bamboo rolling mat). Spread your “rice” evenly, leave about 1/3 of the top of the nori without filling. Top the “rice” evenly with veggies, and hope for the best. Moisten the top edge with water, fold the front edge over the fillings. Keep rolling until the end, making a firm tube. Place the seam on the cutting board, and use your best knife to cut even pieces.

Quality nori and knife are essential in cutting the rolls
Quality nori and sharp knife are essential in cutting the rolls!

 

The rolls are best served with tamari/shoyu soy sauce, with gari (pickled ginger). And what’s sushi without misoshiru (soup)? Oh, and edamame (soy beans) would make a perfect appetizer to this. All to be enjoyed with a nice pot of sake and a cup of green tea, of course.

Itadakimasu!
Itadakimasu!

Have you tried making sushi yourself? What is your favorite kind of sushi – conventional, fusion or other?

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Weekly activities

I definitely prefer action-filled weeks to those when I have nothing to do but to look at the falling rain (after a month, the rain gets rather boring) – and if it isn’t raining, I definitely want to be on the go. Luckily, last week was full of reasons for me to defy the weather and leave my bed (and by bed I mean my room, which is pretty much the same thing).

MONDAY
Indian “private restaurant” dinner – or how would you call a windowless room where you are the only people dining? Followed by pudding dessert (like being a kid again with the chocolate pudding!) close-by.

Spot the restaurant. Hint: it's not the one with the "cafe"
Spot the restaurant. Hint: it’s not the allay cafe

 

TUESDAY
Vintage furniture store opening, and organic cocktails (4 different kinds, tried them all and then some) and “fancy” canapés in Pure Bar&Restaurant.

Mojito, strawberry orange vodka, cucumber martini, grapefruit gin - mojito and martini were the stars
Mojito, strawberry orange vodka, cucumber martini, grapefruit gin – mojito and martini were the stars

 

WEDNESDAY
Zumba and yoga in my safe haven in Causeway Bay, mYoga.

 

THURSDAY
Karen Millen cocktail event in Central with a “healthy” theme (funny that they hire male candy to serve stuff which they have no clue -nor intrest on- what it is)

Cleanse shots - served as "spinach" or "celery" or "cinnamon". Yum!
Cleanse shots – served as “spinach” or “celery” or “cinnamon”. Yum!

 

FRIDAY
French Look My Baboush shoe launch in Common Ground, followed by dessert in Tin Hau (had 3 different kinds, I’m eating my way through China!)

Kinda like Tom's but "completely different!"
Kinda like Tom’s but “completely different!”
Shoe customization by le French "la mangue"
Shoe customization by le French “la mangue”

 

SATURDAY
Met my lovely friend Nick, who came to visit from Tokyo. We had a fantastic day in Lamma island, and it was raining only for about 15 minutes!

Without the junk boats Nick would'v gone skinny dipping
Without the junk boats Nick would’v gone skinny dipping

 

SUNDAY
Quick visit to the Hong Kong Cheese Festival (small, smelly and, well, cheesy – all in all a bit of a disappointment), followed by East Island Market and a stroll trough different neighborhoods with Nick.

First bite of street food (better response than with durian ice cream)!
First bite of street food (better response than with durian ice cream)!

Nick went back to Japan, and I started to prepare myself for yet another week of rain…maybe the junk boat summer sunny season will start soon and hopefully the rest of my weeks here would be at least almost as active as this one”

Hipsterin’

In a strange culture, sometimes you just want to escape all the exotic, weird stuff and need the comfort of familiarity. And when rye bread is not an option and Ikea isn’t enough to satisfy the cravings for something other than China life, what to do? In Hong Kong, there’s Sheung Wan (and some random streets in different neighborhoods) to the rescue.

Kapok in Sun Street
Kapok in Sun Street

Luckily there are few nifty places to go in Wan Chai (mainly the small strip of Sun Street and the surroundings), but most of the cool stuff I have found is elsewhere.
 

Creative street art/promotion for Secret Ingredient
Creative street art/promotion for SecretIngredient.com

 

Sheung Wan, west from Central, is a neighborhood filled with art galleries, pop-up stores and cool cafes, where hipsters flock for brunch on the weekends. Ice drip coffee is not unheard of, and most of the coffee places also sell some small designer stuff. All the international restaurants are nearby in Soho, Sheung Wan is more concentrated on some quality cafes/restaurants with quirky interior and fancy menus.

Common Ground, the place to be
Common Ground is the place to be, even for hipster babies

 

What I like about Sheung Wan the most is the cool decors, overall vibe and appreciation for uniqueness. And apparently there’s some kind of launch party/gallery opening/random happening every week – you just have to know where to go when!

Inviting entrance
Inviting entrance

 

The areas near Sheung Wan MTR (subway) station are dedicated to dried seafood, bird’s nests, and other Traditional Chinese medicine shops: my rough and random estimation is, that there’s easily over 100 different shops selling smelly, odd stuff.

This is just a few blocks from the hipster-haven of Hong Kong
This is just a few blocks from the hipster-haven of Hong Kong

 
So, when one wishes to explore the area where one can order made-to order aeropress coffee rather than shark’s fin soup, there are some steps to be climbed. Perhaps the altitude change and stairs are the reason why upper part of Sheung Wan is occupied by young people!

Sweet wheels
Sweet wheels

THE cake

Usually, if “everyone” else is doing something, I try to swim against the current – or at least I don’t admit that I am one of “them”. In this case, (I typoed cake) my defense is that I was happily here in Hong Kong, flippin’ my pancakes just like no one’s business, and then it started to appear in my Facebook stream and blogs all over Finland. I don’t know about the rest of the world, and sharing is caring – especially when it comes to all things yum-yum good. Therefore, I am proud to present you: the ridiculously simple, versatile, (and healthy) Protein Pancake! It has been a while since I posted about food, but I’d say this was worth the wait.

So…to the cake.

Banana pancake, by Dita Margarita
Banana pancake, by Dita Margarita

Ingredients
– 2 eggs (or egg white and one whole egg, or 2 whites and one whole, however and which color you like)
– Banana (preferably ripe, dotted and smushy)
– Coconut oil or butter for frying (or any other oil you wish to use)

That’s it. You mash the banana and whisk (or blend) it with the eggs. How ever lumpy you like it, go for it. Fry on medium heat, flip and munch away!

But…that’s not all. With this simple base, you can go beyond bananas! My imagination has led to the following conclusions for successful additions:
– Oats. You can either roast them on the pan for a nuttier, crunchier consistency, or let them soak in the base mix for a while before frying
– Nuts (cashew, dry roasted peanuts). Roast, and crunch on top of the pancake before flipping
Chocolate chips cocoa nibs. Nuff said.
– Grated ginger. Gives a nice fresh touch
– Cinnamon powder/vanilla or cacao, to smoothen out the banana flavor
– Powder. Your preferred protein powder, herb blend or cordyceps would boost this baby to a new level
– Coconut/almond flour for thicker pancakes: I haven’t tried, but I saw someone did it and apparently it worked since it was worth a blog post
– Chia seeds/quinoa, again for the mouth feel (and added nutrients)

And what comes to toppings….well, use your imagination. I’ll give just few personal favorites: baked fruit pieces (apples, pear), honey (erhm, nut butter…).

This pancake makes a great breakfast, lunch, dinner, post-workout treat or a midnight snack, and seriously, I have yet to discover what could be easier to make. Since I am not a big fan of banana, I will try substitutions for that: maybe avocado or over-ripe papaya would work. And I’ll promise to try my best to get a good picture of the pancakes before eating them.

Have you heard of this miracle before? What is your favorite combo?

Mui Wo

Calm streets to calm the mind

Another weekend, another destination! This Saturday, I ventured off to Mui Wo, Lantau island.

Many possible directions from Mui Wo
Many possible directions from Mui Wo

Mui Wo is the main destination in Lantau where Star Ferry goes from Central. From there, one can easily go to the main attractions of Lantau, such as Tai O or The Big Buddha (which I still have to go see!). Many hiking trails are also accessible, as well as other nearby islands.

Beach and bbq
Beach and bbq

Besides the beach, I walked along some quiet streets and in a forest – the aim was to find a cave and waterfall, but one wrong turn lead me to a cow and a residential area in stead. Now I have a reason to go there again!

Tai O cows' big brother
Tai O cows’ big brother

It is always great to escape the hassle of the city – I saw banana trees and jackfruit, too! After strolling around for few hours, I decided to sit down by the water and treat myself a nice seafood dinner. One of the most expensive meals I have had turned out to be one of the smallest, and I spent the evening hugging the toilet. I guess you can’t always win. No hard feelings towards Mui Wo, but I won’t be going to the Cooked Food Centre again!

Peaceful water brings peaceful mind
Peaceful water brings peaceful mind