Sally Hang is the one of many who became inspired to cook, bake and bread during COVID-19. After experiencing a dinner party hosted by Sally, the food she created inspired me to learn more bout the the creativity and passion that exists in her food. "Growing up with a mum and late gong-gong who are/were both fabulous cooks and were very passionate about food, developed my identity and love for Cantonese and Vietnamese food." Sally creates and communicates with food, and acknowledges that her nostalgia and memory of eating is the point of difference with her making, "at the moment lots of the things I want to make are based on nostalgia, things I used to eat as a kid and trying to use it in an interesting way… or not interesting at all… old fashioned cakes/treats are my favourite to make and eat."
What-Else visited Sally in her kitchen where she shared the most delicious, beautiful, distinct and creative varieties of cake and bread we have ever seen.
W-E hope you enjoy as much as we did.
What did eating look like for you growing up?
My mum and late gong-gong are/were both fabulous cooks who were very passionate about food, so growing up I only ate Cantonese and Vietnamese food.
Most nights we had rice as a base for main of sorts, served with a broth on the side which I hated drinking as a kid… but now I really miss that daily liquid nourishment.
Sometimes we would have Vietnamese noodle dishes like bánh canh, bún thang, bò kho… all delicious and what I request whenever I visit my mum.
For breakfast my mum would usually steam dumplings and baos. For school lunches we often got packed Asian sandwiches which I was embarrassed about growing up, having to explain what xyz was to my friends… but pork floss on white bread is defs a vibe to me rn.
Where does your inspiration come from with your ideas towards food today?
Mostly from chefs and eating a lot, at the moment lots of the things I want to make are based on nostalgia, things I used to eat as a kid and trying to use it in an interesting way… or not interesting at all… old fashioned cakes/treats are my favourite to make and eat.
What excited you about creating with food?
Most of it… except the part where you stand on your feet for very long periods of time… I love sourcing and researching ingredients, measuring out with microscales, the chemistry of it, the anxiety of not know how something is going to turn out, the relief when it works, the joy of sharing and eating. Lots of instant gratification!
What has been the hardest thing you've made and why?
Lots of things are hard when you do it the first time but would probably be silly entremets which are almost never worth the trouble, or maybe hand laminating invert pastry in the Australian summer… my hot (lol) tip would be… don’t.
What has been the most delicious thing you've made and why?
Recently I’ve been trying to replicate this Asian grocery shop cake called Sally cake because I used to eat it all the time.
It’s pretty much a fluro green coconut pandan sponge but after a few tries I think I finally have it down.
What is your favourite recipe you can share with W-E that we should try ourselves this weekend?
I love making beignets, which is fried choux pastry, but hate frying in my apartment so here’s hoping y’all have good ventilation.
125g of each: unsalted butter, water, milk and strong white flour (sifted)
Pinch of salt
3g caster sugar
Approx 4-5 free range eggs (not precise here as you have to make a judgement call on the consistency)
More caster sugar
Heat the butter, liquids, and salt in a saucepan until boiling, let it boil for a second or two so everything is rolling around in the pan rapidly.
Add the flour and stir until it turns into a ball and doesn’t stick to the pan anymore.
Remove from pan and let the mix chill for 30-45mins covered.
Combine the eggs in a separate bowl, no need to whisk or do much here, just needs to be mixed together.
Now gradually add the eggs into the mixture a little at a time until the mixture has a dropping consistency, it will ‘plop’ off your spoon (if hand mixing) or paddle attachment (if you’re using a machine). Important to do this slowly as you can’t remove egg if you accidentally add too much, but you can always add more if your mix is not dropping.
This is your choux pastry, you can either make a lot of things with this like eclairs, choux buns, gougeres, … make a croquembouche if you want
To make them beignets, heat frying oil to 160 degrees and carefully drop spoons of the pastry in and fry for approx. 5 minutes, moving them around until they are puffy and golden.
Drain on paper towel and roll them in a bowl of sugar
Eat straight away!
What do you want to communicate with what you make?
Mostly it’s just a fun, calming thing that I like to do. I find it slows me down and also those I share food with.
I’d love for afternoon tea to make a come back, any excuse for another opportunity to eat and drink with loved ones.
What is your point of difference with what you make?
To be honest, I’m still learning from the universe of amazing talented chefs and bakers who generously share their knowledge. So I guess for me it’s about tasting, practicing, learning and experimenting with flavours, techniques, produce to make delicious things.
How do you want to grow your business with food?
At the moment I have a handful of wonderful clients who ask me to make cakes for special occasions, so I would like to continue doing that for a while.
The long game is to be able to grow/raise/produce everything myself and have a small shop in the countryside.
What is on your menu tonight?
Tonight I’m going to Bistrot916 with some friends, so can’t wait to have a drink and to try and order everything on their menu