jade market...

One of my favorite joints in all of Hong Kong is the jade market. Beads. Bangles. Tchotchkes.  The baubles that always end up in my bag without fail are the chunky jade rings, freshwater pearl studs, long tassel necklaces, oh and the humongous bracelets. And then there are the foo dogs that I accidentally smashed against a fence before I was even able to get on the mtr home.

Arrive prepared to barter with the hawkers. Never pay what they are asking. Not even half. Begin at a third and move slowly from there. Very slowly. I have never paid more than $100hk ($13us) for anything. As I slowly whisper 'I live here' their shoulders drop just as quickly as their prices. And yes, I have walked away. Hawkers have very high starting prices so they have a lot of room to move and possible profit (mainly from tourists).

Consider yourself lucky if your treasured jade bauble should break. This just means bad luck was coming your way and the jade took the hit on your behalf. Most married Asian women wear a jade bangle tight on their wrist to press the acupuncture points activating the energy chi for youthfulness and good health.

Never be afraid to ask the hawkers to customize an item. If you like the beads on one strand, but the clasp or pendant on another they will be happy to rework the piece to your satisfaction. I have had them change tassels and even make custom bracelets with my personal charms.

I could not resist this ceramic doll trio. The hawker insisted that three makes a set. They are marked in Chinese characters indicating good health, money and long life. They were $30hk each or $4us.

Jade's Chinese character is a combination of the words beauty and purity. Traditional green is the most desirable jade color and the most pure. It also is available in a range of colors including white and lavender. Most of the jade you will find in Hong Kong is jadeite from Myanmar. Jadeite is much less expensive than jade. A lot of the baubles at the jade market are either very low quality jade or fake. Sometimes inferior qualities are injected with polymers or dyed to appear green. Again, this why you should never pay full asking price or anywhere near it. Don't fall for their usual usual lines, 'this is my first day' or 'this is my best price.' When they don't turn around after your last offer and you walk away-- that may have been their best offer.

During Chinese New Year, it is customary to gift friends and family a jade amulet. Each Chinese zodiac sign has a corresponding animal that they should keep near them in order to start the new year off with good fortune. Last year, mine was a tiger.

I have discovered some great deals in these $30 bins. Perfect for stocking stuffers. I have also dug out some interesting pendants that I've had made into long tassel necklaces in Shenzen, China.  So the jade market is totally worth a gander. But don't expect Cartier and you'll walk away tickled with your new baubles.


photos courtesy of Heidi Selch

Get of on the Yau Ma Tei stop on the red or green line
take exit C
follow the pink signs to Kansu St. 
Monday -Saturday


show and tell...

Ugh. I did not make it to the beach for a walk this Monday morning. Hopefully tomorrow. You know how the more you commit to the more you are able to get done? At what point does that start to become just over committed? (definitely not asking for a friend) Well, I'm going to invest in some colored pens and color code my planner. Maybe that will make it easier to decipher or at the least make it look cuter! I'm going to steep myself a pot of tea and get back to you on that color coding idea (maybe even stickers!). Meanwhile, here's some tidbits I thought you might enjoy...

  • I have such trouble finding shoes in Hong Kong to fit my size nine feet. Size nine is BIG in Asia. It reminds me of the days of foot binding. Surprisingly, foot binding was done for a millennium only stopping in the 1930s. 
  • I usually don't check out buzzfeed, but couldn't resist reviewing the reasons why Hong Kong's the only place to live. I have to agree with them on several of their reasons!
  • I usually struggle with the swan posture at pilates, but maybe these yoga straws would further inspire me. Not all that shocking, they are made in China for a Chinese yoga center. 
  • Just when I thought I was doing pretty good exploring Asia, I read this article on Conde Nast Traveler. Wow! I guarantee I'll never get to all these locations, but its a good place to start. 
  • Living just a walk away from the ocean brings an over abundance of seafood. One of the Sai Kung seafood joints has even earned itself a Michelin star. Unbeknownst to me I ate there last Wednesday. To their credit it was the only place I have ever been able to stomach eating abalone
  • I was asking a good (and healthy) friend for some new ideas for breakfasts. She suggested bircher muesli. Have you tried it? Its easy just uncooked oatmeal and milk to start off and then you can add all sorts of toppings. I think my first attempt will be to add kefir instead of milk and go from there. 


traditional bubble waffles...

Our beloved Kong is a public transportation wonderland. Pick your favorite. taxi. mtr (subway). tram. double decker. And our F1 doppelganger -- minibuses (basically fast driving vans that operate as buses). My children prefer the mtr as every mtr station has food stalls. As soon the mtr slows to a crawl at our station the begging begins. Mama, can I have a waffle? noodles? shu mai? But ever since my son was diagnosed with celiac disease, half of my pair can't enjoy the yummy bubble waffles (gai daan tsai). Then just the other day I stumbled upon this egg waffle recipe at Williams Sonoma. I was quite surprised that they have the gai daan tsai recipe and the pan.  I purchased my waffle pan on Hong Kong's Shanghai Street as Williams Sonoma does not ship to Hong Kong. I substituted gluten free flour for the cake flour and abracadabra we can enjoy egg waffles for an after school snack. 

Ever the multitasker, I began by melting the butter while sifting my gluten free flour, salt, baking soda and a just a touch of grated nutmeg.

Then I whisked the egg yolks, milk, vanilla, melted butter and granulated sugar all together.  

I mixed the the wet and dry ingredients together and then gently folded in the egg whites. It should be a bit runnier than pancake batter and thicker than crepe batter. 

Now its time to heat up the egg waffle iron. After the iron's warm, brush it with oil. The Williams Sonoma recipe calls for vegetable oil, but I used grape seed oil due to its higher flash point. Just in case I should leave the iron on the burner too long. It's been known to happen... 

Pour in enough batter to fill up the bubbles on the bottom of the pan. I used a pancake dispenser to be sure I didn't make a huge mess. Close the top onto the bottom of the pan and quickly flip it over.  Flipping the pan allows the batter to cover both sides and develops the traditional egg or bubble shape. Let each side cook for about one or two minutes depending on how hot your burner is set.

Let the waffles cool off for a couple minutes on a wire rack prior to serving. My waffle iron turned out over ten waffles whereas the Williams Sonoma recipe states their pan makes five waffles. After looking at the online pictures I'm fairly certain my waffle iron is smaller than theirs. 

The children were famished after school and quickly gobbled all the waffles up before I could experiment with toppings. Next time I will try the gai daan tsai with powdered sugar, a sprinkling of cocoa, nutella, or maybe a generous smear of peanut butter. Wow, they would probably also be delish as a sandwich. Could even add sprinkles for a birthday breakfast!


 all photos by Heidi Selch

Egg waffle pans available at...

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