Difficulties with Mainland-style policies

Health Minister Lo Chung-mau, who did so much for Hong Kong’s reputation and economy by insisting on emulating Beijing’s zero-Covid approach long after vaccines became available, seems to be embracing Mainland-style natalism…

Lo … said the government encourages married couples to have babies at a younger age to boost the success rate. Lo also described women and their eggs as “soil” and “seeds” as he pointed out that freezing the eggs cannot reverse the biological restrictions on women’s maternal age. 

“The ‘seeds’ will be preserved but the ‘soil’ has changed according to their increasing age,” Lo said. 

This went down badly with several female lawmakers. Remember that all LegCo members these days are vetted  – and most in practice simply appointed – for their loyalty to the government, so it is rare for them to criticize officials.

Several health inspectors are charged with stealing seafood being tested for radiation…

Their duties as [Centre for Food Safety’s Risk Management Division] members included checking the radiation level of food items to ensure they were safe for consumption. Radiation testing of imported Japanese food became part of routine food surveillance in January 2021.

The anti-graft watchdog said the accused spent more than HK$88,000 in taxpayer’s money to buy food samples from five food importers in mid-2022 and early 2023 for two radiation tests.

…[They] planned to misappropriate the leftover samples after the tests. This was in violation of internal guidelines requiring officers to properly dispose of the residual samples and keep a record.

ICAC officers later uncovered more than 80 unused food samples at the home of the five, including canned abalone, white truffle sauce, crab bisque, Japanese rice and pasta.

The surveillance of Japanese seafood is not a scientific policy – simply a political performance in line with Beijing’s after the release of treated water from Fukushima. So, no surprise that everything they test is satisfactory.

Some might argue that, by not throwing the food away, they were actually making good use of taxpayers’ money.

On the subject of efficient use of available ingredients in the kitchen: by popular demand (OK, one commenter) – how to make fermented chili sauce. Quite simple…

Chop up a combination of washed and dried chilies and tomatoes. The ratio should be roughly 80-20 (though any combination will work). Ideally, the chillies should include some small Thai-style ultra-hot ones, plus some milder Scotch bonnet, jalapeno, etc. The tomatoes should include some small sweet ones as well as regular bigger ones (or just regular ones and some sugar to provide an equivalent sweetening effect).

Chop up some garlic and ginger – a ratio of around 3-2, adding up to roughly 5% of the volume of tomatoes and chillies. (Again, any amount will work – it all depends on taste.)

Now blend the whole lot into a mash. Exact consistency up to you. Add enough non-chlorinated water to make the mixture however runny you want – maybe increasing the overall volume by a third or so. Then add non-iodized salt equivalent to around 2-3% of the weight of this whole mixture*. Stir it well.

Now put it in a clean wide-necked jar. If you don’t have a fancy pickling jar with an airlock, you can press plastic wrap over the liquid to keep air off it, at least for the first few days of fermentation. Screw the lid on and leave it somewhere at a warmish room temperature. (It’ll probably be fine if you don’t bother with the plastic wrap, but best stir with something clean every day so nothing gets round to growing on the stuff before fermentation kicks off.) Put the jar in a plastic bag or something in case it starts to leak when fermentation does start. Open the jar every day to let gas escape.

Within a week, it should be ready for decanting (if necessary) and putting in the fridge, which stops the fermentation. The longer it ferments, the sourer it will get. (It will ferment faster at a warmer temperature, but the taste might be harsher.) 

You could strain the liquid to make a purely liquid sauce, if you insist, but the classic sauce is lumpy.

Pretty straightforward and foolproof, provided you avoid water and salt with antiseptic additives. Unlike pickling with vinegar, you are growing, rather than killing, bacteria. Lactobacillus. The result is more subtle and aromatic – and healthy if you’re into gastrointestinal microbiome stuff.

Obviously, you can pickle pretty much any veg (or fruit) this way, eg baby cucumbers (add dill) or string beans, carrots, etc. For sauerkraut or kimchi, you cut and salt the cabbage first, rinse off a bit and then pack it in its own juice. But same process. 

Fun for all the family.

* The process should work with something between 1-6% salt, but obviously more means a saltier product. You might get away with using tap water and iodized salt – but no guarantees. See here for some science.

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12 Responses to Difficulties with Mainland-style policies

  1. Psycho Wong says:

    Pretty straightforward and foolproof, he says. I think I’ll just buy a jar at Big-C.

  2. Reactor #4 says:

    Your most useful post in years. Actually, one can add a little garnish to the piece by imagining Yan Can Cook spitting out the instructions.

  3. Low Profile says:

    A bit ironic that one government department is requiring perfectly good food to be thrown away unused while another is campaigning against food waste.

  4. Load Toad says:

    > Retched #4,

    As a wise person once said, ‘If you don’t like it, you can always f*** off’

  5. Julius Child says:

    One of Hemlock’s most practical posts in years!

    Warning: I followed his instructions on something similar regarding sauerkraut a few years ago. Never again!

    Have a nice weekend.

  6. Chinese Netizen says:

    What Load Toad said.

  7. Mark Bradley says:

    Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Been Here Too Long says:

    @Reactor 4. Oh ‘Yan Can Cook’. That’s a blast from the past. Remember when the producers (I assume) forced Yan to have a guest chefs on the show, and he never used to let them get a word in and constantly talked over them. Highlight of my week. A lady friend of mine, though, preferred ‘Dolce Vita’ and the camp presenter with a penchant for the hot glue gun.

  9. Nury Versace says:

    At last..a reliable sauce!

  10. Young Winston says:

    Dolce Vita is (and was always) quite possibly the most horrifyingly cringeworthy programme in the history of television (closely followed by the post-Chugani Straight Talk).

  11. Joe Blow says:

    Young Winston, I politely disagree. That epitaph goes to the program (forgot its name) on TVB Pearl that was presented by Jacqui Stafford during the terror reign of Empress Diana Lin. It was a magazine-style format, produced on a shoestring, and driven by any cliche you could think of.

  12. asiaseen says:

    It was a magazine-style format, produced on a shoestring, and driven by any cliche you could think of.

    And with totally unecessary “background” music so loud it was impossible to hear what was being said. I had correspondence with the Goddess Diana about it and it transpired that no one on the editorial side ever checked what the dubbing mixers had done before it went to air.

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