Respect your roots – Eat Local!

July 21st, 2012 | Posted by greg in Daily life...

A while ago I had the chance to participate to the great WOM Guide Panel series as a member of the discussion panel.

The topic was to debate whether Hong Kong was yet an international food destination in itself or not. My point of view was clear; Hong Kong needs to have more local specialties to feature and Hong Kong must be proud of it. Let there be farmers for vegetables, fruits, chicken, beef, pork, or artisan making preserved vegetables, dried seafood, beer, anything! At the moment, Hong Kong is a pseudo-international food destination because most of what is put forward, from the ingredients to the chefs themselves are all flown in. Wouldn’t Hong Kong become a true international food destination if, like in many other countries, our top chefs would use proudly homegrown quality ingredients for their cooking? Because yes, QUALITY is key after all. Using local doesn’t mean “local at all cost”, indeed, I believe it would do more damage to Hong Kong dining scene if everyone was forced to use local ingredients of average quality. I even believe it would shift the whole culinary scene towards an impossible impasse…

When I say that, I know that I partly live in my own world and I can see you shaking your head trough my screen, but hey, it has to start somewhere, no?

Why does the rest of the international food cities can do it, but we can’t? Every other day, there is another food scare in the news; chemicals, genetically modified crops, antibiotics, melamine… all these scares add an insane additional burden for Hong Kong to develop itself as an international food destination. People link Hong Kong with China and amalgams pour the entire local farmer’s effort down the drain.

Hello there, wholesome vegetables!

We lab-tested the local products from the farm where we source our organic products for more than 100 chemical agents and every product we tested were super clean. Like anywhere else, the availability of local products is seasonal and the quantities aren’t enough to supply all of Hong Kong, that’s for sure. Also, there is a definite lack of selling network which talented writer and entrepreneur at heart Janice Leung tries to tighten up with her latest venture Island East Market where local artisan and farmers will be able to sell their products in the heart of the city. The more availability and the more quantity there will be, the lower the price will be; a fact that isn’t a reality yet.

Ever seen coffee trees in Hong Kong?

To concretely help the local scene, we went to Zen Organic Farm a few Saturdays ago to help planting dozens of certified non-GM dragon fruit trees.

Despite the hide and seek game the sun and the rain played on that day, we ended up having great fun and learned a lot about the rather bland fruit. Indeed, as a pastry chef, I never was attracted by pitaya, in any color of flesh that is. Not until we’ve got there to plant the actual trees and thereafter, I really started to think about what could be done with them that could be interesting. I marinated them in a spiced infusion and sliced them over an heirloom tomato salad, which was a delicious combination and since the summer is now well upon us, I tested them in a very refreshing way: Marinated Pitaya in spices, lime and mango ice sticks. I had some leftover marinated pitaya from the salad which I blended with fresh mango and a generous (read huge!) dash of fresh lime juice – froze the mix into Popsicle moulds and voila!

the popsicle made with poached white pitaya, mango and lime. On the background are some red pitaya.

I have been writing countless times about supporting the local farming movement, and beside using local produces, helping at the farms and spreading the word, there is not much more in my power, however, and if more of us are making noise, I’d like to believe Hong Kong authorities could hear the call and would be able to step forward, say hello, and take it to the next level!

Figs will be ripe in August

Visit Zen Organic Farm here: http://www.zeno.com.hk

Visit Island East Market here: http://hkmarkets.org

Eating local is our decision

Green asparagus

“Wong Pei” or yellow skin – I will explore that great citrus fruit in my next experience!

 

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2 Responses

  • Natalie Fung says:

    Chef: I am very happy to know you were helping to promote the local farming activities! Support Support!!! Since last visit to the Zen Organic Farm, I kept thinking to plan for another visit. I was so impressed and I can’t believe, we have such a nice and well organized farm in HK! Love the high quality of the vegetables and fruits from this farm.

    Your “Dragon Fruit Popsicle” sounds very yummy, I really want to give a try! And looking forward to hearing your new creation about the “Wong Pei”, it must be very appetizing…



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