Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


Baking cakes in a rice cooker

Hong Kong has many merits, but one thing it lacks is space. And that lack of space extends to one’s home and specifically, the kitchen. My kitchen is functional but small, very small and so rammed with equipment it’s a wonder I can actually cook. But the one thing I am missing, and I think I might have mentioned this before, is an oven. I admit, I probably wouldn’t use it enough to justify having one in the first place, but the absence of one makes me want one more. Sighhhh. So what are you supposed to do if you suddenly want to bake a cake, but have no oven? You turn to your rice-cooker, assuming you have one.


Peanut butter cake with Häagen-Dazs caramel biscuit ice-cream

Bake a cake in a RICE COOKER? What is this madness, I hear you cry! Stay with me guys, it’s the next best thing since sliced bread. (There’s a pun in there somewhere). I didn’t quite realise how useful the rice cooker (RC) could be until I began some research into using one for baking cakes. Several Buzzfeed articles and tonnes of links extolling the virtues of this humble appliance later, I decided ovens were annoying and my RC was the coolest thing on Earth. Experiments began in earnest- I even managed to roast a tiny chicken in my RC once(!). But cakes, ahhhh the sweet, sweet smell of cakes, that was my real triumph and it’s honestly very straightforward to do in the RC. But how do you know when the cake is ready- there’s no timer! This, my friend, is down to pure experimentation, taking slight liberties with timings that recipes recommend and popping the lid of the RC  every now and then to work out if the sponge is cooked through. If you have baked using an oven before, your baking know-how/ baking sixth sense will help you approximate how much time each particular cake needs- it all depends on the ratio of wet to dry ingredients.

The cakes produced using the RC are a combination of steamed and baked. The cake develops a lovely sort of baked exterior, whilst the inside is moist, light and fluffy. Ginger cake and Peanut Butter cake have become the firm favourites in the RC cake repertoire, but I’ve also quite liked a milo and peanut butter variation and a traditional banana cake. Will be trying a lemon cake soon, so watch this space! Recently I posted on Instagram a new cake I baked- coconut, Malteser spread and peanut butter, (yes, PB is a recurring theme, but it tastes so good in cakes). A few of you were asking for a recipe so I will post it below, together with my Ginger cake recipe, as that’s a real winner!

Some of you will wonder if I have a fancy rice cooker. I do not. It’s old now and I only know how to press ON/ KEEP WARM/ OFF. Lol. One press of the ON button is equal to approximately 20 minutes of cooking time. My cakes usually need 3- 4 cycles (around 60- 80 minutes) of cooking time, but you should use your judgement, sneak a peak and use a toothpick to test whether it’s done.


My humble Rice Cooker (excuse the terrible photo and lighting)

Ginger Cake


100g butter

100g muscovado sugar
100g golden syrup
1 large egg
150ml milk
150g plain flour
3tsp ground ginger
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1-2 tsp of grated fresh ginger (or however gingery you want it!)
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
1) Melt butter, sugar and syrup in a pan over a gentle heat. Remove from the stove and cool mixture for 5- 10 minutes.
2) Stir egg and milk into the cooled mixture and sift in all the dry ingredients- flour, bicarb of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ground and fresh ginger.
3) Mix thoroughly, ensuring there’s no lumps of flour floating around! The mixture will be quite runny.
4) Grease the rice cooker and then pour the mixture in.
This cake needs 60-80 mins in the RC- depends on how moist you want your cake!

Ginger cake with icing- this was a very slapdash icing!

Coconut, Malteser spread and Peanut Butter Cake
60g salted butter
120g sugar
1 large egg (beaten)
1 small can of coconut milk (160ml)
20ml milk
125g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp Malteser spread (or equivalent chocolate spread- you can use Nutella!)
2 tbsp peanut butter
1) Melt all the wet ingredients together in a pan (same as for the Ginger cake).
2) Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
3) Add the beaten egg and slowly sift the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.
4) Mix thoroughly and then pour into your greased rice cooker.
This cake needs 60 min, so approx 3 presses of the RC.

Coconut, Malteser and PB cake

And so there you go! Enjoy experimenting!


Food Revolution Day HK- 17th May 2013

Food Revolution Day

Food Revolution Day

Since Jamie Oliver started raising public awareness of the poor standards of school canteen food and the lack of healthy alternatives back in 2005 (can’t believe Jamie’s School Dinners was that long ago!), he has been on a veritable mission to shift people’s perceptions of healthy foods and to wage a war against the bulge. Improving one’s diet and eating habits can be a struggle at the best of times, so I really applaud Jamie for tackling such a difficult issue head-on.

Jamie’s TV series, Jamie’s Food Revolution (2010) was launched to improve school food and to teach people how to cook from scratch. This idea continued when he set up the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation to inspire and encourage people across America at that time, to discover good and healthy food. With everyone leading fairly hectic lives and fast-food being such a convenient way of lining one’s stomach quickly, coming round to the idea that one can whip up a decent, nutritious meal in under 30 minutes can be difficult. Since the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially recognised obesity as a global epidemic in 1997, it has been little wonder that the challenges of over-feeding have been met with panic. But, with movements like the Food Revolution, slowly but surely, with baby-steps, households are going down the path of cooking fresh, healthy food and even corporations such as McDonald’s are attempting to offer food that does not instantly clog one’s arteries. The Green Monday Organisation in HK is one such example of an enterprise that is campaigning for healthier lifestyles and meatless Mondays.

The Food Revolution has since become a world-wide movement and has now landed in Hong Kong. The 1st Food Revolution Day was held on 19 May 2012 and this year, Food Revolution Day will be held on Friday 17 May 2013.

So what do you need to do? Not much! Food Revolution Day is a lovely excuse to get some mates together or your family and have a good ol’ cook-out. Obviously waiting specifically to cook at home on 17 May is a bit daft, but the idea is that if you haven’t done so thus far and are looking for a lifestyle and diet change, perhaps this is the time to start doing it. So embrace your rice cooker or your hob and whip up something with your bare hands, be it a simple tomato soup or scrambled eggs on toast, at least have a go. To the kitchen-phobes out there, it’ll be fun, I promise! I will be finding some friends to throw together a hotch-potch meal, and will post a few photos of our attempt.

If you want to share your Food Revolution day of cooking with me, drop me an email and I will post your efforts too 🙂

Below is a list of local activities that are happening in the next couple of weeks to promote the Food Revolution. More information can be found on the website. 

2013.05.05 (SUN) 香港 HK 為食起革命 @ 港島東農墟(上)
FRD @ Island East Market (Part I)
2013.05.11 (SAT) 香港 HK 為食起革命 @ 香港理工大學理工大學食物與餐飲學院烹飪班
FRD @ The Food & Wine Academy(Poly U) Cooking Class
* 敬請預約 RSVP is NEEDED
2013.05.12 (SUN 香港 HK 為食起革命 @ 港島東農墟(下)
FRD @ Island East Market (Part II)
* 部分活動敬請預約 RSVP is NEEDED for certain activity
2013.05.17 (FRI) 香港 HK 為食起革命 @ 長洲太平清醮飄色巡遊 
FRD @ Cheung Chau’s Piu Sik Float Parade
2013.05.17 (FRI) 香港 HK 為食起革命 @ Mum Veggie + Coffee + Sweet
FRD @ Mum Veggie + Coffee + Sweet
* 敬請預約 RSVP is NEEDED
2013.05.17 (FRI) 香港 HK 為食起革命 @ Mana!Fast Slow Food
FRD @ Mana!Fast Slow Food
2013.05.18 (FRI) 香港 HK 為食起革命 @ 豆苗居烹飪班
FRD @ Grassroots Pantry Cooking Class
 * 敬請預約 RSVP is NEEDED
2013.05.11-06.02 香港 HK 為食起革命 @ 執嘢 x 銅鑼灣地帶 夏季 Mini Swap Walk
FRD @ JUPYEAH X Causeway Place Mini Swap Walk

Here’s the detail on what the Food Revolution goal is:

The Food Revolution is a global movement that allows people who love food to come together to share information, talents and resources and also to pass on their knowledge and highlight the world’s food issues. All around the globe, people work together to make a difference.  The Food Revolution is about connecting with your community in schools, restaurants and local businesses.  We want to inspire change in people’s food habits and to promote the mission for better food and education for everyone.