Home>>>Chinese culture>>>>Chinese Cooking

Cantonese Food

Cantonese cuisine is one of the four main cuisine in China. It ranks first in China for its characteristics of catering market, skill,conveniencein and the number of restaurants and tea-houses in the country. Cantonese cuisine is good in color, fragrance, taste and presentation. In addition, the delicate Cantonese pastry is also well-known for its wide range of varieties, delicious flavor and beautiful color.

The Chinese saying "Born in Suzhou, eat in Guangzhou and die in Liuzhou" vividly describe the wealth of great food available here. Eating is certainly the main pleasure for the local residents here and there are about ten thousand catering enterprises and restaurants with some 500,000 seats serving up authentic Cantonese cuisine. The atmosphere in many of these places is great,lively, friendly and very noisy.

Guangzhou dishes are among the most famous in China. This fame derives partly from the excellent resources and fertile land surrounding the area and partly from the scarcity of money in the city. Guangzhou is situated close to the sea and fresh sea food is readily available. The land here is also very fertile and a wide range of vegetables and fruits are grown.

The dishes are prepared carefully and exquisitely. Quick-fried or stewed, they turn out to be fresh, crisp, tender, slippery and not salty with all flavours and tastes. They vary with the change of seasons, conforming to modern dietetics. The cooking skill pays priority to light, fresh, clear, slippery, tender and nutrition, which also change with the seasons. From morning till night, there are the morning tea, lunch, night snack of different taste. The "morning tea", which becomes popular all of China, has delicate and tasty dim sum. Guangzhou flavor snack has large variety and diversity, such as the inexpensive and tasty radish cake, rice noodle, steamed zongzi (rice wrapped in leaves), fried river snail, cattle entrails, Shahe rice noodle, wonton with noodle, skinned milk, stewed stuff, boat porridge, jidi porridge and pot rice.

Guangzhou concentrates the dishes of all of China. You could find local food and food from outside.People could taste Chinese royal dishes of Qing dynasty, full Man and Han ethnic dishes, Beijing roasted duck, Yunnan Guoqiao rice noodle, Shanghai Longxiang steamed bun, Tianjin Goubuli steamed bun, xi'an royal court dumpling, Chongqing chafing dish, Lanzhou beef noodle, Chaozhou snack and Shanxi chopped noodle.

The European influence in the area can also be seen and fruit such as lychee and Portuguese oranges are commonly served up- an effect of the areas proximity to Macau. Guangzhou has a few good European style restaurants scattered about the town including Kathleen's. Most of these places are concentrated on Shamian Island. There are numerous cafes and bars here serving up adequate western style cuisine and the big hotels such as the White Swan also feature some nice international restaurants for those who need a break from Canton cuisine.

Nowadays, catering industry not only reflects the new situation of the reform and opening up of Guangzhou, but also one of the pillar industries for enlarging internal demand and increasing the economic development. The business value of the catering industry in 1998 reached RMB 15.838 billion, increasing by 25.7% annually in the past 20 years, 18.48% over the average increasing rate in the 29 years before reform and opening up.

All kinds of restaurants cover every street and commercial area, no matter it is a well known one or a snack bar. In recent years, dining out has become an indispensable activity of people in the daily life and catering industry has attracted more investors to join in. Therefore, the number of restaurant increased tremendously, the competition method are diversified, which takes on a flourishing phenomena.

Most restaurants in Guangzhou provide three teas, two meals and one night snack. Combining eating with entertainment, they usually open from 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 at night. Some even provide 24-hour service. There are numerous well-known dishes, pastries, snacks and local-flavour food. The best Cantonese restaurants in town feature both traditional dim sum feasts- a selection of steamed delicacies- and bigger dishes.

   Dim sum is, without a doubt, a trademark food in Cantonese cuisine. It is usually consumed in the mornings and afternoons. Dim sum is a delectable palate of little snacks, which come in wicker baskets that are placed on trolleys, and pushed around by waiters or waitresses. Diners have the opportunity to choose the baskets of their choice from the trolley when it reaches the table. However, more restaurants are beginning to provide dim sum order forms for diners to tick the required items, rather than congesting the restaurants with trolleys. The most popular dim sum items are: 'ha gau' (shrimp dumpling), 'siu mai' (prawn and pork dumpling), 'pai gwat' (steamed spareribs), 'chun guen' (spring rolls), 'cha siu pau' (steamed barbecued pork buns), and 'cheung fun' (steamed rice flour rolls with barbecue pork, beef, or shrimp).

A good place to try exquisite dim sum is the Banxi Restaurant. Dim sum is best eaten with lots of friends. Traditionally the dishes are served in small baskets and in groups of four. For those seeking a more formal atmosphere, the Guangzhou Restaurant prepare wonderful palatial style banquets.

Dishes renowned at home and abroad are the Complete dinner of Manchu and Mandarin Dishes of Guangzhou Restaurant, the Refreshments Meal of Panxi Restaurant, Fish with Pine Nuts of Beiyuan Restaurant, Chaozhou Dishes of Nanyuan Restaurant, moon cake with lotus seed paste of Lian Xiang lou, Taotao chicken with ginger and shallot of Tao Tao Ju Restaurant, stewed shark's fin in brown sauce of Da Sanyuan Restaurant, Jinpai roast suckling pig of Datong Restaurant, Dongjiang Kejia dishes of Dongjiang Restaurant, Shanshui Shahe rice starch noodles of Shahe Restaurant, Qingping chicken of Qingping Restaurant, Beijing and Tianjin dishes of Huabei (North China) Restaurant, Muslim dishes of Huimin Restaurant and snake dishes of Man, the Snake King's Restaurant, etc. The tasty dish of the world are brought to Guangzhou, including the French raw oyster, Japanese sushi, sashimi, Thai potted fish and chicken claw, Korean BBQ, Indian fried curry chicken, Vietnamese grilled gold edge fish and cuisine from Nepal, Middle East, Italy, U.S.A. and South East Asia.

You can't say having been to Guangzhou if you haven't tasted the well-known dishes and pastries there.From morning till night, you can enjoy the morning tea, lunch, night snack of different taste.There are popular snacks like fried river snails and varied Guangzhou pastry.

Dining out has become an indispensable activity of people in the daily life and catering industry has attracted more investors to join in. Therefore, the number of restaurant increased tremendously, the competition method are diversified, which takes on a flourishing phenomena.

Cantonese food is the most popular style outside China. Cantonese cuisine originates from the region around Canton (Guangzhou) in southern China's Guangdong province. One Cantonese saying goes that anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies is edible. Another says that the only four-legged things that Cantonese people won't eat are tables and chairs. Cantonese cuisine includes almost all edible food in addition to the staples of pork, beef and chicken, such as snakes, snails, insects, worms, chicken feet, duck tongues, and entrails. As a trading post, Canton (Guangzhou) had access to a large range of imported food, which resulted in the huge variety of Cantonese dish we can enjoy today.

Unlike other Chinese cuisines, the Cantonese usually serves soup before a meal. The soup is usually a clear broth prepared by simmering meat and other ingredients, and cooked on mild fire for hours. Chinese herbal medicines are sometimes added to the clay pot, to make the soup nutritious and healthy. Cantonese normally only consume the liquid in the pot, the solids are usually thrown away unless they are expensive such as abalones or shark fins. There's also a Cantonese saying that to "secure" a husband, a Cantonese woman needs to first cook good soups.

Due to Guangdong's proximity to the south China sea, cooking live seafood is a specialty in Cantonese cuisine. Prawns, shrimps, scallops, lobster and crab are in plentiful supply. Many Chinese restaurants maintain live seafood tanks. The freshest seafood is odorless, and is best cooked by steaming. Less fresh ones will be fried or even deep fried. When cooking a fresh fish, only a small amount of soy sauce, ginger, and spring onion is added to a steamed fish, while loads of garlic and spices will be added to cook an unfresh fish.

 Cantonese cooking is somewhat lighter than most regional Chinese cuisine. Preparation methods usually involve stir-frying in shallow water or oil in a wok. As cooking time is short, the flavors and nutrition of the food is preserved. Vegetable and fish dishes are often steamed without the use of too much oil. Sauces made from ingredients like ginger, garlic, onion, vinegar, and sugar are complemented to enhance flavors.

        Cantonese menus are long and can often confuse the diner in making a decision. There are a wide variety of dishes made from meats, poultry, fish, seafood, and vegetables for your pick. Chicken is a celebrity food among Cantonese eaters. A single chicken can be used to prepare several dishes. Chicken blood is cooked and solidified for soup, and its liver is used in a wonderful delicacy called Golden Coin Chicken. The livers are skewered between pieces of pork fat and red-roasted until the fat becomes crispy, and the liver soft and succulent. This specialty is then eaten with wafers or orange-flavored bread.

        Seafood is the next best delicacy in Hong Kong. Some of the popular dishes include fresh-steamed fish with ginger and onion topped with a dash of soy sauce and sesame oil, prawns and crabs cooked or steamed in black-bean sauce, and shark's fin soup. Cantonese barbecuing methods are unsurpassed. When in Hong Kong, do not miss the barbecued goose, duck, or slices of pork with a golden and honeyed skin served on a bed of anise-flavored preserved beans. Also, experience the taste of double-boiled soup with duck, mushroom, and tangerine peel.

        There are specialty foods that are only served during particular seasons. In winter, a traditional winter dish would be cooked snake. Dog meat is also a winter dish but it is illegal in Hong Kong. Only China continues to serve dog meat in winter and tours to the region specifically to eat dog meat are available. 'Monk Jumping Over the Wall' is the name for a dish made from a blend of abalone, chicken, ham, mushroom, and herbs that are so irresistible that monks are said to break their vows of vegetarianism if its fragrance is within smelling distance. Another tempting dish is the casserole of chicken and Chinese smoked pork sausage that are served steamed on a bed of rice. Autumn also has its share of dishes, which can be ordered at restaurants. Examples of autumn dishes include rice birds and paddy chicken or frogs cooked in a crunchy batter mixed with crushed almonds and served with sweet-and-sour sauce.

Some tasty Cantonese Food:

Dim Sum (Dian Xin) - Dim sum is literally translates to "touch the heart". Dim sum is usually servec as breakfast or brunch, enjoyed with family or friends. There is a wide variety of food available, Gow (Dumpling), Siu Mai, Phoenix talons (Chicken feet), Steamed spare ribs, and Spring rolls are good examples. In some restaurants, they are served on trolleys. Instead of placing an order after reading a menu, you order whatever you like after physically seeing the yummy dim sums on the trolley. Dim sum is part of the Cantonese culture, it is common to see good Cantonese restaurants crowded with people having dim sums on sunday mornings, enjoying dim sum while reading newspapers.

 

Shark Fin Soup - Genuine shark fin soup or stew is made with real shark fins obtainable from several shark species. In Cantonese cooking, raw shark fins are processed by first removing the skin, trimming them to shape, and thoroughly drying them. Bleaching with hydrogen peroxide may be employed before drying to make the colour of the sharks fin more appealing. Considered a highly prized delicacy, the best Cantonese shark fin soup can fetch up to US$100 per bowl. However, there are also cheaper shark fins, usually taken from smaller shark species, used for casual dining. The quantities used for each bowl of soup may vary from a few needles of fin rays (typical in a US $150 Chinese feast), to a whole small fin, or even more. The price depends on the size and quality of shark fin used; shark fin is estimated to cost at least US $4.50 per bowl.  

 

Char Siu (BBQ pork) - Char siu, also known as BBQ pork, is Cantonese-style barbecued pork. It is usually made with long strips of boneless pork, typically pork shoulder. The distinctive feature of char siu is its coating of seasonings which turn the meat dark red, or occasionally burnt, during cooking. The seasoning mixture for char siu usually includes sugar or honey, five-spice powder, red food colouring, soy sauce, and sherry or rice wine. The words char siu literally mean "fork roasted", which is the traditional preparation method. Long forks hold the meat in a covered oven or over a fire. Char siu is rarely eaten on its own, but used in the preparation of other foods, most notably char siu bau, where it is stuffed in buns, and char siew rice (or Barbecued pork with rice), where it is served with rice. Char siu is common in places with a large Cantonese-speaking community, including southern China, Malaysia and Singapore. It is also commonly served in Chinese restaurants and food markets in other parts of the world.

Guangzhou Cuisine


Guangzhou, the place of origin of Guangdong Cuisine, offers more than 2,000 kinds of dishes, which represent all strong points of various cuisine styles in China. Prepared with high-quality materials, and varied ingredients, Guangzhou Cuisine is composed of light, delicious, refreshing and nutritious dishes with sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, salty and delicious tastes. Many dishes are good to the people's health.

Manchu and Han Banquet

First promoted by the Guangzhou Restaurant in 1987, Manchu and Han Banquet was evolved from large imperial banquets held during the Qianlong reign period of the Qing Dynasty. The banquet consists of 108 courses, and may last three days, fully displaying Chinese traditional catering culture.

Eight Immortals Banquet


Eight Immortals Banquet, which was created on the basis of a popular fairytale about the eight immortals, makes the Guangzhou Panxi Restaurant famous. Each course is named after an immortal, plus unique tableware. etiquette and service. The banquet starts from the gathering of the eight immortals, and ends at the eight immortals crossing the sea, full of interest.

Aromatic Pot

Evolved from "Monk Jumps over Wall," a famous dish from Fuzhou, Aromatic Pot is made of various ingredients, such as chicken. goose, duck, fish's lip, dried mushroom, etc., which have been cooked separately beforehand, plus some Shaoxing cooking wine. Richly fragrant, this dish is nutritious and is suitable for people to eat in winter.

Eight Treasures in White Gourd Cup


It is a course peculiar to the Panxi Restaurant in Guangzhou. Soup is prepared with a white gourd as a container, hence the name. Pleasing to both the eye and the mind, this delicious dish is the best food at the height of the summer. Baiyun Pig's Trotters

As one of the famous traditional dishes of Guangzhou, this course is made of pig's trotters soaked in spring water from Baiyun Mountain, hence the name. This dish is sour and slightly sweet, fat but not greasy, with refreshing and crisp skin.

White Cut Chicken (slices of boiled chicken served cold with soy sauce and other condiments)

As one of the commonest chicken dishes in Guangdong Cuisine, White Cut Chicken is easy to be prepared. This dish features tender and delicious meat, and original taste and juice.

Soy Sauce Shark's Fin


As a famous dish of the Guangzhou Dasanyuan Restaurant, this dish is made with high quality shark's fin after meticulous preparations. Chefs pay great attention to the duration and degree of heating and cooking while preparing this dish. If a guest picks up a ready-made shark's fin with chopsticks, the cooked shark's fin will naturally form an oval shape, which tastes crisp and delicious.

Roast Piglet with Crisp Skin

Roast Piglet with Crisp Skin is a traditional dish in Guangdong Cuisine with a history of more than 1,400 years. As early as in the Southern and Northern dynasties (420-581), Guangdong chefs were good at preparing roast piglet. Roasted with an open stove, Roast Piglet features a beautiful golden yellow color with crisp skin.

Banquet of Refreshments


Panxi Restaurant enjoys the highest reputation of producing refreshments in Guangzhou. At such banquet, various kinds of refreshments are served in a good order: First small pastries, then pastries in soup, main refreshments, sweet snacks and finally desserts, in addition to a delicate, refined and graceful atmosphere.

Dongjiang Hakka Cuisine


Dishes, which are popular in Heyuan region, are known as Hakka Cuisine. Fat, salty and well done, many dishes of Hakka Cuisine can help nourish yin, qi and the kidney, reduce heat, clear the lung, brighten the eyes, and improve the skin. Famous dishes include Dongjiang Salted Chicken, Dongjiang Bean Curd with Filling, Salty and Fragrant Chicken, Crystal Duck, Mandarin Fish in Soup, Steamed Chicken, Beef Set Meal, Delicacies from Xingang Lake, in addition to local refreshments, such as Bawanghua Rice Noodles, and Niujin Cake.

Dongjiang Salted Chicken

It is a famous traditional dish in Hakka Cuisine, featuring a golden yellow color, crisp and tender meat and a fragrant smell.

Grass Carp in Clear Soup


With grass carps bred in local high-quality waters as raw materials, this dish is prepared with various kinds of seasonings, featuring tender, delicious and refreshing fish meat.

Crystal Chicken


It is a newly created Hakka dish, with a yellow and bright color, delicious original juice, tender meat and a good smell.

Dongiiang Bean Curd with Filling

This dish is prepared with traditional Hakka cooking techniques, with smooth and tender bean curd, delicious filling, hot soup and a fragrant smell.

Mandarin Fish in Soup

Meticulously prepared with mandarin fish from Wanlu Lake, this dish is peculiar about skills in the use of a kitchen knife, with a milky white color, a delicious taste and refreshing, sweet and tender meat.

Hakka Three Treasures with Filling

This dish is composed of bitter gourds, peppers and eggplants with filling, with three different colors. beautiful shapes and a unique taste.

Shenzhen


Shenzhen, a beautiful seaside city, gathers all catering cultures and all cuisine styles and over 1,000 kinds of snacks from all over the country. Huaqiangbei Food Street with Huaqiangbei Road and Zhenhua Road as the centers is the largest catering center in Shenzhen. Other food streets include Dongmen Food Street, Nanyuanlu Food Street and Yantian Seafood Street, which are attractive to domestic and foreign tourists.


Big Basin Dish


Big Basin Dish consists of 15 courses, prepared with a big wok heated with firewood. Through stir frying, deep frying, boiling, braising and stewing, more than 10 courses are placed in a big basin. The course on the top is chicken and duck, implying that birds return to the nests. Since ancient times, the people in Guangdong coastal areas, New Territories in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia have followed the custom of eating Big Basin Dish on the Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month.