Apr 16, 2009|
It’s inevitable that the majority of our foodstuff has to come from outside of Hong Kong. But every once in a while it’s worth stopping to acknowledge some of the select quality foods grown and reared right here in our territory.
It’s good to know that our leftover scraps are going to a good cause—feeding pigs. That’s the standard practice with locally reared Kin Yin pigs. Of course, it’s not an entirely new idea. “This was the traditional way of doing things back when there was no synthetic feed,” says Kwok Ming-cheung, the agricultural entrepreneur who has revived the old school method. “People always complain about the lack of flavor in pork nowadays, and it’s because the pigs eat growth enhancers and artificial feed.” To restore the pig’s natural taste, Kwok decided to eschew all chemical enhancers, and mixed leftover scraps from school canteens and restaurants with protein powder and vitamin supplements into a special formula. Although the costs are higher because it takes longer for the pigs to grow, Kwok says it’s worth it: “local agriculture can only survive if it improves in quality.”
Where to buy: Wo Ping Fresh Food Shop, 91 Chun Yeung St., North Point. 2571- 8077
Located near the Ho Pui Reservoir in Yuen Long, this organic farm of over 13,500 square meters has been devoted to growing fruits and vegetables without using genetically modified crops or chemicals for almost a decade. “The purpose of running the farm is educational—to let today’s city dwellers, especially kids, know about the importance of where our food comes from,” says Crystal Chan, one of the farm’s curators. And visitors have a lot to learn. For example, did you know that we actually waste half a lettuce when we buy the packed ones in markets? Apart from educating visitors, the farm also sells seasonal vegetables, both retail and wholesale. You just missed strawberry season, from December to March, but you can still get a taste of their homemade strawberry jam ($40 for 180ml). Cherry tomatoes are currently in season.
One particularly interesting vegetable available from the farm is edible cacti, which is supposed to be good for detoxing, improving your blood circulation and aiding digestion. If you’re too lazy to take anything home to cook, you can pre-order a large meal set there for groups of eight. The set includes four dishes made from handpicked seasonal vegetables, and a special assorted vegetable cactus soup ($60 per head). Visitors can also order individually for $40-$50, but you have to let them decide what to cook for you.
Address: Ho Pui Reservoir, Pat Heung, Yuen Long, 2838-4808 (entrance fee: $20)
Where to buy in the city: Oh My Farm, G/F, Shop B3, Block 1, 3 Wan Chai Rd., Wan Chai. 9233-3708
Who would have thought adding salmon oil to fish feed would work wonders? The idea came about as a result of a Chinese University study on how to improve the nutritional value and taste of fish. And the formula is now used by Mr. Yeung to raise fish in his farm. It’s famous for its grey mullet, a kind of fish that flourishes in the intersection between sea and fresh water. The farm is located right next to the Mai Po Reservation Centre, so it benefits from the one of the best natural water source in Hong Kong.
Where to buy: Only some are available in wet markets, distinguished by the company tag, but you can order from Honwal Healthy Agro Products, 2479-1900.
Lee Leung-kee’s is one of the few old-style, family-run chicken farms still in existence. The farmer has been trying to preserve the best of the indigenous Hong Kong strands of Shiqi chicken—which were nearly wiped out in the chicken massacre following cases of avian flu. The local breed is famous for being more tender and less fatty. “I always keep the best few separate from the rest for reproduction, so that the bloodline remains pure and that the quality won’t be affected by cross-breeding,” he says.The farm has been going on for more than 20 years and the quality keeps improving. Now the farm has about 30,000 chickens, which all feed on locally made chicken feed.
Where to buy: San Seng Meat Shop, 46 Wan Chai Rd., 2572-5548
Here’s a farm actually located in the city. It’s part of a community project supported by St. James’ Settlement in Wan Chai. It started in 2006 and now has a team of six responsible for taking care of shrooms. Mr. Fung is one of them. “At first we tried to grow a variety of mushrooms, but now we’ve settled on oyster mushrooms, mostly because they’re the easiest ones to handle,” he recalls. “We did try to grow Chinese mushrooms, but they consumed lots of space as we had to put them on the floor.” If you’re inspired to try and grow your own fungi, you can buy their “mushroom bag”—which basically consists of spores on a wood chip bedding. Just leave it in a damp and shady corner of your home and keep it moist. Each can harvest 8-9 times, and each time can yield about one-third of a pound of produce.
Where to buy: Green Shop, 3A Kennedy St., Wan Chai, 2116-1106
Some people think you have to fly to Japan for a spoonful of fresh sea urchin, but we actually have a whole farm of the prickly things right here in Sai Kung. A fresh one here costs no more than $33. According to owner Mr. Chan, the purple sea urchin—the type he keeps—has always existed in the sea around Sai Kung, near his village. Inspired by the local uni craving that was going unanswered, Chan decided to switch his profession four years ago to farm sea urchin. “I used to grow vegetables in the same village, but the business was going down, so I learned from a fisherman friend set up this farm,” he says. The place also serves a variety of dishes made from sea urchin such as the popular steamed egg white with sea urchin and the sea urchin spring roll.
Address: 2 Tung Ya Village, Leung Shuen Wan, Sai Kung, 6443-8101 (Cantonese only)