If you are a bread lover, surely you know there are hundreds types of bread. In Hong Kong, you can find almost every type of it. Besides western style breads such as whole wheat bread, rye bread or croissant, you can also see a lot places selling Chinese style breads like mantou (Chinese steamed bun), char sui bao, or vegetarian bun etc. However, have you ever noticed a third type of bread which doesn’t look and taste like either western breads or Chinese buns? Actually they are the Hong Kong style breads sold in local bread shops.
The ingredients and methods used to bake breads differ a lot. For example, western-type breads use different kind of flour such as wheat, rye, barley and oat, salt and water to give dough, which will be baked in oven to give bread. On the other hand, Chinese-type breads are fewer in varieties. Usually, only white wheat flour is used to give dough which will be steamed to give bread. Therefore, you can see that Europe breads are brown in color and many of them get a crunchy curst with the soft texture inside, while the typical Asian buns are white in color and they are soft throughout the whole bun. But when it comes to local Hong Kong style of bread, you may see another kind, where the bread color is usually in light yellow and the texture is neither like the chewable western breads nor the soft (cake-like) Chinese buns.
On top of breads, you can find other pastries in local bakeries. One of the most well-known one is egg tart. Other than the egg tarts, you can see chicken tarts, coconut tarts, swiss roll etc. However, have you ever wondered how much calorie does a local pastry or sweet bun contain? If you think 1 egg tart or other local breads or pastries are nothing, and you have them occasionally like twice a week, you can gain 1lb in a month.
Unlike western types of plain bread where no oil is supposed to be used, local breads and pastries usually contain lard, making them less healthy in general. However, with the diverse characteristic in Hong Kong, only a few local bakeries only sell local breads and pastries, most of them merge both local and western style, and even Chinese. Therefore, there are still a lot of choices when it comes to local bakeries. But in this article, let’s get to know more about typical Hong Kong style of breads/pastries.
How can I keep it healthy?
1. Avoid all tarts and pastries, since the crusts contain a lot of butter.
2. Eliminate breads with processed meat such as sausage and luncheon meat as filling.
3. If the bread is heavily dressed with mayonnaise or other salad dressing, look for another type of bread.
4. If you feel it is not enough to have a bun, you can add one carton of skimmed milk.
What should I choose?
Salted sesame bun
It is a plain bun tasted like white sandwich bread. Sometimes, a little sesame is sprinkled on top of the bun. Sesame bun is like the base bread of different types of local bread, where different ingredients can be filled inside. Since it is plain bread, its calorie is lower than other breads with filling.
It can be white or brown in color. Although sometimes it is called as ‘’wheat bread’’ in Chinese, it contains no wheat. It gives brown color because the sugar is caramelized under high temperature. Since the oil content in the bun is relatively low and the calorie is below 200kcal for 1 bun, it is a relatively healthy choice in a local bakery. However, it may contain quite a lot of sugar. So, you should just have it occasionally.
If you want to choose breads with filling, tuna bread is a relatively healthy choice. For one bun, it is around 200kcal. However, mayonnaise may be mixed with the tuna.
Ham and egg bun
Beside tuna bread, ham and egg bun can be another alternative. For one bun, it contains 175kcal and less than 3g of fat.
Chinese cup cake / Paper wrapped cake
It refers to the chiffon cake wrapped with butter paper in a cup-shape. Since there is no added cream in the cake, the oil content is relatively low comparing with cakes with cream. However, 1 small cake still contains around 150kcal.
What should I not choose?
Egg tart probably is the most well-known and must try item in Hong Kong. After filling the outer crust with egg custard, it is baked. However, do you know that the outer crust is made with butter and the egg custard contain a lot of sugar? For one egg tart, it contains around 300kcal, which is more than the calorie of one bowl of rice.
Similar to egg tart, coconut tart is another typical pastry you can find in Hong Kong bakery. Unlike the egg tart, it is filled with coconut filling made with desiccated coconut, butter, condensed milk and egg yolk. Since coconut is high in saturated fat, one tablespoon contains desiccated coconut contains almost 10g of fat, with the outer crust containing butter as well, there is up to 20g of fat in just one coconut tart, which is 1/3 of the daily fat requirement.
All pastries contain a lot of fat and chicken tart is the same. Filled with creamy white sauce with chicken, you can get up to 25g of fat that is 5 teaspoons of oil.
Coconut and cream bun
Filled with cream in the middle of bun in coconut and cream bun, it contains at least 400kcal. If you have it twice a week, you can gain 1 pound in a month!
Cocktail bun is one of the signature Hong Kong style breads. It is a sweet type of bread filled with a buttery coconut based filling. For one bun, it is around 280kcal. And it contains around 1.5 teaspoon of oil and 2 teaspoons of sugar.
Although it is called as ‘’pineapple bun’’, there is no pineapple inside the bun. It is sweet bread where a crunchy, cookie-like pastry is put on top of the soft bread. Since it is resemble of the pineapple outlook, it is being called as pineapple bun. One bun contains around 350 kcal which is equal to a cup of skimmed milk plus a home-made cheese sandwich.
Used sausage as the filling to make the bun, the calorie of such bun is increased. Although the calorie of the bun is not as high as those in pastries, the processed meat contains unhealthy fat.
Luncheon meat and egg bun
With the use of luncheon meat, which is another high fat processed meat, this makes the bun less healthy. You should replace it with ham if you want to have a healthier option.
It is rolled sponge cake with some cream added inside. Because of the cream, one small piece is around 200kcal with 1 teaspoon of oil.
Though most items in local bakeries are relatively unhealthy, there are still some choices. But, if you are on diet, you should avoid all pastries, all buns containing sausage and luncheon meat and all buns with heavy salad dressing or sauce. If you can’t decide one, you can buy a tuna bun (salt) or raisin bun (sweet) and a cartoon of skimmed milk, which contains around 300kcal in total.