Happy year of the HORSE! I know Chinese New Year celebrations are over but I’d just like to drop a little post about what has become my favourite CNY snack for the past few years. For most of my life, I had always looked forward to munching on crispy shredded taro balls (wu har/芋蝦), homemade pan-fried radish cakes and nian gao every CNY. Nowadays, the one thing I cannot spend new years without is arrowhead chips. More specifically, Da Shi Jie’s arrowhead chips.
Now what the heck are arrowheads? The chips look like they can pass off as potato chips. In fact, undiscerning tasters may even think they are just eating potato chips. However, the arrowhead is actually a flowering plant with edible tubers that the Chinese decided to deep fry into chips. They have a fancier name called Sagittaria sagittifolia, but in China they are called cí gū 慈菇, which literally translates to “benevolent mushroom”. I’m not too sure why they are called mushrooms, though they do have an earthy aroma that is redolent of mushrooms. The reason I love them is that they are super crunchy, with a woodsy bitterness that makes them seem like extra-refined, sophisticated potato chips.
Some people might still prefer supermarket potato chips for the variety of flavours – these arrowhead chips are hardly seasoned! Regardless, that is exactly how I like to savour their superior natural taste. At HKD 118 per pack (easily finished in 3 minutes) they are on the expensive side, but afterall they are not potatoes.
Mind you I do normally fancy my mass produced, MSG covered potato chips from the supermarket. But when it’s Chinese New Year, I think it’s only right to spoil myself with superior snacks like benevolent mushroom chips.
These Da Shi Jie arrowhead chips are orderable online at http://www.dashijie.com.hk just before and during CNY. GET’EM NEXT YEAR if they’ve run out this year! Just FYI, Da shi jie, whose real name is Mak Lai Man, is a food loving lady from Hong Kong who quit her big shot job back in 2007 to start making yummy seasonal food (particularly from the Canton region) and to write foodie articles in local papers. Big ups to the lady running for dreams and spreading love for wonderful food!
The title of this post probably sounds almost oxymoronic to some of you – how can Canned soup ever be good?
Although there are obvious advantages to canned soup such as convenience and higher longevity in the cupboard, one can hardly call it good from a food-lover’s point of view, given that most canned soup company chefs deal only with freakish mutant vegetables. But what can you do when you are heading off to college (or work) and are simply too busy to prepare a hearty, homemade, cream of tomato soup? I was recently saved by Albert Menes Veloute de Tomate soup.
Unlike many canned tomato soups that are either too watery or too harsh and acidic, the Albert Menes Veloute de Tomate has a velvety texture that is complimented by its highly condensed tomato flavour. The tomatoes used are picked and matured under the sun of Provence in France, and the soup itself is also made according to a traditional Provencal recipe. The richness of the soup, like any other canned soup, depends on how much water you put into the saucepan along with the contents of the can, but I personally prefer to put as little as possible so that the original texture of the soup is preserved. At the back of the can it suggests that you add croutons fried with butter, a pinch of chives, and some creme fraiche before serving, but tonight all I had was the soup itself with some melba toast and it was already good (and less fattening! Although next time I think I will have this with a slightly burnt grilled cheese sandwich for an ultimate comfort food experience).
So Hong Kongers, I’ll tell you that I bought this soup at Citysuper in IFC. and LOOK! IT IS NOW AT HALF PRICE! Normally at 99HKD for a canned soup it is on the expensive side but right now at HKD50 it is even cheaper than it is on its official French website:
(And Americans – I heard that you can get it too but for around 13 USD so YEAHH I am getting a good deal here today 😀 )
I have yet to try the other soups in the same range but as I bought a box full of these today I will probably try them soon. I won’t blog again about these soups but ask me later about the other varieties or just try them yourself ! 🙂