Hot Plate Struggles, Part 1

Chatteris' own Charlotte Bland, helps us navigate Hong Kong's cosy kitchens.

I can rhyme off so many positives about living in Hong Kong. From never being more than a bus ride away from a beautiful beach, to the weather, to the happy hour deals that are guaranteed to make you happier than you ever thought possible; Hong Kong is great. That is, until, you’re in the world's tiniest kitchen trying to cook yourself a decent meal with no big oven or microwave in sight and just a hot plate for company.

Over the course of the year, I’ve definitely had to adapt my usual meals and get creative in my questionably sized ‘kitchen’. Here are a few of my go-to recipes that are Hong Kong and hot-plate friendly.

Pre-payday Chilli
Ridiculously easy and pretty tasty (if I do say so myself).
All you need is one big pan to cook it all in, so it’s perfect for when you’re in a rush or can’t face a pile of washing up. It makes enough for a couple of meals and if I double up the ingredients and have it with rice, it can last for days (#mealprep). It’s also a great meal to chuck any other vegetables into before it goes off.
1 can of chickpeas
1 can of green lentils
1 can of butter beans (or cannellini beans)
1 can of kidney beans
1 - 2 cartons of chopped tomatoes (depending on how thick you want it)
Fresh chillis (to taste)
Chilli/hot sauce (sriracha is ideal or Nandos is great if your mum is feeling especially generous with her care packages).

Put some oil in the pan and get it nice and hot. Finely chop up some chillis and let them simmer briefly. Add in the drained cans of all your different beans and the chopped tomatoes for the sauce. Put in a generous amount of hot sauce and stir it all together. Let it cook for about 20 minutes on a medium heat (I find the longer I leave it, the better it gets). Add some salt & pepper at the end and serve!

Easy egg fried rice
First of all, get a rice cooker guys- it will change your life in Hong Kong. They are so cheap out here and once you get one, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it.
One cup of rice
Two eggs
Half an onion (diced)
Soy sauce

For either the traditional pan method or speedy rice cooker way, I’d recommend one cup of rice to two cups of water. Whilst the rice is cooking, add a bit of oil into a pre-heated pan and start sweating out some onions in a pan. Crack two eggs into a cup, add in some salt and pepper and whisk together before pouring into the pan and scrambling up. This stops your rice getting too coated and sticky by putting all in at the same time (learn from my mistakes). Once you’ve got scrambly eggs, break it up into little parts and add in the rice, stirring until the water has evaporated from it. Add a tablespoon or two of soy sauce and cook until your stomach just can’t wait any longer.

Vegan kidney bean curry
Another easy meal that’s great for when you’re craving curry but have run out of money.
1 can of kidney beans
A handful of chopped up cherry tomatoes
Half an onion (diced)
1 carton of chopped tomatoes
A few cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon of curry powder

Drain the kidney beans and chop up a few cloves of fresh garlic to give the dish a kick. Dice up some onions whilst the pan and oil starts to heat up and chop up some cherry tomatoes into halves. Begin cooking the onions and chopped garlic before adding in the tomatoes last as they can burn easily and need quite a bit of stirring. After a few minutes, when the onions start to go golden, add in the kidney beans and pour in the carton of chopped tomatoes. Throw in around a tablespoon of curry powder (it’s cheap from Wellcome or PARKnSHOP) and mix well. Let the curry cook on a medium heat, stirring regularly for around 15 minutes or until it thickens up nicely.

Post-payday cheesy courgettes
So this meal is actually made with a toaster oven, but it’s too tasty not to include...
*Warning* This recipe contains grated cheese. Please try to stop yourself from crying with joy at finally being able to afford it and try to refrain from inhaling it all before making this meal.
1 courgette
Grated cheese

Pre-heat the toaster oven. Chop up a courgette into slices and brush some oil onto the top before placing them onto the tray. Sprinkle with some salt to help them crisp up in the oven and then cover in grated cheese. Pop them in the toaster for around 25 minutes until they are done and enjoy. This recipe works really well with aubergine too!

Happy cooking!


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