Cantonese cuisine

Cantonese cuisine

Chefs cook with a wok
Traditional Chinese 廣東菜
Simplified Chinese 广东菜
Hanyu Pinyin Guǎngdōngcài
Cantonese Jyutping Gwong2 dung1 coi3
Yuet cuisine
Traditional Chinese 粵菜
Simplified Chinese 粤菜
Hanyu Pinyin Yuècài
Cantonese Jyutping Jyut6 coi3

Cantonese cuisine (simplified Chinese: 广东菜; traditional Chinese: 廣東菜; pinyin: Guǎngdōngcài) comes from Guangdong province[1] and is one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of Chinese cuisine. Its prominence outside China is due to the large number of emigrants from Guangdong. Chefs trained in Cantonese cuisine are highly sought after throughout China.[2] When Westerners speak of Chinese food, they usually refer to Cantonese cuisine.[3]


Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, has long been a trading port and many imported foods and ingredients are used in Cantonese cuisine. Besides pork, beef and chicken, Cantonese cuisine incorporates almost all edible meats, including offal, chicken feet, duck's tongue, snakes, and snails. However, lamb and goat are rarely eaten, unlike in the cuisines of northern or western China. Many cooking methods are used, with steaming and stir frying being the most favoured due to their convenience and rapidity. Other techniques include shallow frying, double steaming, braising, and deep frying.

For many traditional Cantonese cooks, the flavours of a finished dish should be well balanced and not greasy. Apart from that, spices should be used in modest amounts to avoid overwhelming the flavours of the primary ingredients, and these ingredients in turn should be at the peak of their freshness and quality. There is no widespread use of fresh herbs in Cantonese cooking, in contrast with their liberal use in other cuisines such as Sichuan, European, Thai or Vietnamese. Garlic chives and coriander leaves are notable exceptions, although the latter are usually used as mere garnish in most dishes.


Sauces and condiments

In Cantonese cuisine, a number of ingredients such as spring onion, sugar, salt, soy sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, vinegar, scallion oil, and sesame oil, suffice to enhance flavour, although garlic is heavily used in some dishes, especially those in which internal organs, such as entrails, may emit unpleasant odours. Ginger, chili peppers, five-spice powder, powdered black pepper, star anise and a few other spices are also used, but often sparingly.

Sauces and condiments
English Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping
Hoisin sauce 海鮮醬 海鲜酱 hǎixiānjiàng hoi2 sin1 zoeng3
Oyster sauce 蠔油 蚝油 háoyóu hou4 jau4
Plum sauce 蘇梅醬 苏梅酱 sūméijiàng syun1 mui4 zoeng3
Sweet and sour sauce 糖醋醬 糖醋酱 tángcùjiàng tong4 cou3 zoeng3
Black bean sauce 蒜蓉豆豉醬 蒜蓉豆豉酱 suànróng dòuchǐjiàng syun3 jung4 dau6 si6 zoeng3
Shrimp paste 鹹蝦醬 咸虾酱 xiánxiājiàng haam4 haa1 zoeng3
Red vinegar 浙醋 浙醋 zhècù zit3 cou3
Master stock 滷水 卤水 lǔshuǐ lou5 seoi2
Char siu sauce 叉燒醬 叉烧酱 chāshāojiàng caa1 siu1 zoeng3
Chu hau paste 柱侯醬 柱侯酱 zhùhóujiàng cyu5 hau4 zoeng3

Dried and preserved ingredients

Although Cantonese cooks pay much attention to the freshness of their primary ingredients, Cantonese cuisine also uses a long list of preserved food items to add flavour to a dish. This may be influenced by Hakka cuisine, since the Hakkas were once a dominant group occupying imperial Hong Kong and other southern territories.[4]

Some items gain very intense flavours during the drying / preservation / oxidation process and some foods are preserved to increase their shelf life. Some chefs combine both dried and fresh varieties of the same items in a dish. Dried items are usually soaked in water to rehydrate before cooking. These ingredients are generally not served a la carte, but rather go with vegetables or other Cantonese dishes.

Dried and preserved ingredients
English Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping Notes
Dried scallops 江珧柱 江珧柱 jiāngyáozhù gong1 jiu4 cyu5 Usually added to clear soup.
江瑤柱 江瑶柱
Fermented tofu 腐乳 腐乳 fǔrǔ fu6 jyu5
Fermented black beans 豆豉 豆豉 dòuchǐ dau6 si6 Usually added to pork and tofu dishes.
Chinese sausage 臘腸 腊肠 làcháng laap6 coeng2 Usually added to rice together with preserved-salted duck and pork.
Salted fish 鹹魚 咸鱼 xiányú haam4 jyu2 Usually paired with steamed pork or added to fried rice together with diced chicken.
Preserved-salted duck 臘鴨 腊鸭 làyā laap6 aap2 Usually eaten with rice in a family meal.
Preserved-salted pork 臘肉 腊肉 làròu laap6 juk6 Usually eaten with rice in a family meal.
Salted duck egg 鹹蛋 咸蛋 xiándàn haam4 daan2 May be eaten as it is or mixed with stir-fried vegetables and steam dishes or cooked with diced pork in congee.
Century egg 皮蛋 皮蛋 pídàn pei4 daan2 can be found served with roasted dishes, in congee with lean pork, and in a sweet pastry with lotus paste
Dried cabbage 菜乾 菜干 càigān coi3 gon1
Suan cai 鹹酸菜 咸酸菜 xiánsuāncài haam4 syun1 coi3
Dried small shrimp 蝦米 虾米 xiāmǐ haa1 mai5 Usually mixed with stir-fried vegetables.
Tofu skin 腐皮 腐皮 fǔpí fu6 pei4 Usually used as wrapping for ground pork dishes. It is fried in a similar manner as spring rolls.
Dried shrimp 蝦乾 虾干 xiāgān haa1 gon1 Usually de-shelled, sliced into half and added to vegetable dishes.
Pickled Chinese cabbage 梅菜 梅菜 méicài mui4 coi3 Usually cooked with pork or stir-fried with rice.
Pickled diced daikon 菜脯 菜脯 càifǔ coi3 pou2

Traditional dishes

A number of dishes have been part of Cantonese cuisine since the earliest territorial establishments of Guangdong. While many of these are on the menus of typical Cantonese restaurants, some simpler ones are more commonly found in Chinese homes. Home-made Cantonese dishes are usually served with plain white rice.

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping
Chinese steamed eggs 蒸水蛋 蒸水蛋 zhēngshuǐdàn zing1 seui2 daan2
Congee with lean pork and century egg 皮蛋瘦肉粥 皮蛋瘦肉粥 pídàn shòuròuzhōu pei4 daan2 suw3 yeuk6 zuk1
Cantonese fried rice 炒飯 炒饭 chǎofàn cau2 faan6
Sweet and sour pork 咕嚕肉 咕噜肉 gūlūròu gu1 lou1 juk6
Stewed beef brisket 柱侯牛腩 柱侯牛腩 zhùhóu niúnǎn mun ngou laam
Steamed spare ribs with fermented black beans and chili pepper 豉椒排骨 豉椒排骨 chǐjiāo páigǔ si6 ziu1 paai4 gwut1
Steamed frog legs on lotus leaf 荷葉蒸田雞 荷叶蒸田鸡 héyè zhēng tiánjī ho4 yip6 zing1 tin4 gei1
Steamed ground pork with salted duck egg 鹹蛋蒸肉餅 咸蛋蒸肉饼 xiándàn zhēng ròubǐng haam4 daan2 zing1 yuk6 baeng2
Blanched vegetables with oyster sauce 油菜 油菜 yóucài ho yuw ceng coi
Stir-fried hairy gourd with dried shrimp and cellophane noodles 大姨媽嫁女 大姨妈嫁女 dàyímā jiànǚ daai6 ji4 maa1 gaa3 neoi5
Stir-fried water spinach with shredded chili and fermented tofu 椒絲腐乳通菜 椒丝腐乳通菜 jiāosī fǔrǔ tōngcài ziu1 si1 fu6 yu5 tung1 coi3

Deep fried dishes

There are a small number of deep-fried dishes in Cantonese cuisine, which can often be found as street food. They have been extensively documented in colonial Hong Kong records of the 19th and 20th centuries. A few are synonymous with Cantonese breakfast and lunch,[5] even though these are also part of other cuisines.

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping
Zaa Leung 炸兩 炸两 zháliǎng zaa3 loeng5
Yau Zaa Gwai 油炸鬼 油炸鬼 yóuzháguǐ jau4 zaa3 gwai2
Dace fish balls 鯪魚球 鲮鱼球 língyúqiú ling4 jyu4 kau4

Slow-cooked soup

Slow-cooked soup, or lou fo tong (simplified Chinese: 老火汤; traditional Chinese: 老火湯; pinyin: lǎohuǒ tāng; Jyutping: lou5 fo2 tong1) in the Cantonese dialect (literally meaning old fire-cooked soup) is usually a clear broth prepared by simmering meat and other ingredients over a low heat for several hours. Chinese herbs are often used as ingredients.

Soup chain stores or delivery outlets in Cantonese-dominated cities such as Hong Kong serve this dish due to the long preparation time of slow-cooked soup.

English Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping
Snow fungus soup 銀耳湯 银耳汤 yín'ěr tāng ngan4 ji5 tong1
Spare ribs soup with watercress and apricot kernels 南北杏西洋菜豬骨湯 南北杏西洋菜猪骨汤 nánběixìng xīyángcài zhūgǔ tāng naam4 baak1 hang6 sai1 joeng4 coi3 zyu1 gwat1 tong1
Cantonese seafood soup 海皇羹 海皇羹 hǎihuáng gēng hoi2 wong4 gang1
Winter melon soup 冬瓜湯 冬瓜汤 dōngguā tāng dung1 gwaa1 tong1


Seafood tanks

Due to Guangdong's location on the southern coast of China, fresh seafood is prominent in Cantonese cuisine, and many Cantonese restaurants keep aquariums or seafood tanks on the premises. In Cantonese cuisine, as in cuisines from other parts of Asia, if seafood has a repugnant odour strong spices are added; the freshest seafood is odourless and, in Cantonese culinary arts, is best cooked by steaming. For instance, in some recipes, only a small amount of soy sauce, ginger, and spring onion is added to steamed fish. According to Cantonese cuisine, the light seasoning is used only to bring out the natural sweetness of the seafood. As a rule of thumb, the spiciness of a dish is usually inversely proportionate to the freshness of the ingredients.

English Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping
Steamed fish 蒸魚 蒸鱼 zhēngyú zing1 yu4
Steamed scallops with ginger and garlic 蒜茸蒸扇貝 蒜茸蒸扇贝 suànróng zhēng shànbèi syun3 jung4 zing1 sin3 bui3
White boiled shrimp 白灼蝦 白灼虾 báizhuóxiā baak6 zoek3 haa1
Lobster with ginger and scallions 薑蔥龍蝦 薑葱龙虾 jiāngcōng lóngxiā goeng1 cung1 lung4 haa1
Mantis shrimp 攋尿蝦 攋尿虾 làniàoxiā laai6 niu6 haa1

Noodle dishes

Noodles are served either in soup broth or fried. These are available as home-cooked meals, on dim sum side menus, or as street food at dai pai dongs, where they can be served with a variety of toppings such as fish balls, beef balls, or fish slices.

Noodle dishes
English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping Notes
Wonton noodles 雲吞麵 云吞面 yúntūnmiàn wun4 tun1 meen6 Sometimes spelled as wanton noodles.
Beef chow fun 乾炒牛河 干炒牛河 gānchǎo niúhé gon1 caau2 nguw4 hoh4
Chow mein 炒麵 炒面 chǎomiàn caau2 meen6 A generic term for various stir-fried noodle dishes. Hong Kong-style chow mein is made from pan-fried thin crispy noodles.
Jook-sing noodles 竹昇麵 竹升面 zhúshēngmiàn zuk1 sing1 meen6 Bamboo log pressed noodles.
Lo mein 撈麵 捞面 lāomiàn lou1 meen6
Beef brisket noodles 牛腩麵 牛腩面 niúnǎnmiàn nguw4 laam5 min6 May be served dry or in soup.
Rice noodle roll 腸粉 肠粉 chángfěn ceung4 fun2
Rice noodles 河粉 河粉 héfěn hoh4 fun2 Also known as hor-fun.
Silver needle noodles 銀針粉 银针粉 yínzhēnfěn ngun4 zum1 meen2 Also known as rat noodles (Chinese: 老鼠粉; pinyin: lǎoshǔ fěn; Jyutping: lou5 syu2 fan2).
Yi mein 伊麵 伊面 yīmiàn loohng haa yi1 meen6 Also known as e-fu noodles.

Siu mei

Main article: Siu mei
A roasted pig and char siu (叉烧)

Siu mei (simplified Chinese: 烧味; traditional Chinese: 燒味; pinyin: shāo wèi; Jyutping: siu1 mei6) is essentially the Chinese rotisserie style of cooking. Unlike most other Cantonese dishes, siu mei consists of meat only, with no vegetables.

Siu mei
English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping
Char siu 叉燒 叉烧 chāshāo caa1 siu1
Roast duck 燒鴨 烧鸭 shāoyā siu1 ngaap3
Roast goose 燒鵝 烧鹅 shāo'é siu1 ngo4
Roast pig 燒肉 烧肉 shāoròu siu1 jzu
Roast pigeon 燒乳鴿 烧乳鸽 shāorǔgē siu1 jyu5 gaap3

Lou mei

Main article: Lou mei

Lou mei (Chinese: 滷味; pinyin: lǔ wèi; Jyutping: lou5 mei6) is the name given to dishes made from internal organs, entrails and other left-over parts of animals. It is widely available in southern Chinese regions.

Lou mei
English Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping
Beef entrails 牛雜 牛杂 niú zá ngau4 zaap6
Beef brisket 牛腩 牛腩 niú nǎn ngau4 laam5
Chicken scraps 雞雜 鸡杂 jī zá gei1 zaap6
Duck gizzard 鴨腎 鸭肾 yā shèn ngaap3 suhn5
Pig's tongue 豬脷 猪脷 zhū lì jyu1 lei6

Siu laap

Cantonese siu mei (烧腊) food stall in Hong Kong

All Cantonese-style cooked meats, including siu mei, lou mei and preserved meat can be classified as siu laap (simplified Chinese: 烧腊; traditional Chinese: 燒臘; pinyin: shāo là; Jyutping: siu1 laap6). Siu laap also includes dishes such as:

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping Notes
White cut chicken 白切雞 白切鸡 báiqièjī baak6 cit3 gei1 Also known as white chopped chicken (simplified Chinese: 白斩鸡; traditional Chinese: 白斬雞; pinyin: báizhǎnjī; Jyutping: baak6 zaam2 gai1) in some places.
Orange cuttlefish 鹵水墨魚 卤水墨鱼 lǔshuǐ mòyú lou5 seui2 muk6 yuu4
Poached duck in master stock 滷水鴨 卤水鸭 lǔshuǐyā lou5 seui2 ngaap3
Chicken in soy sauce 豉油雞 豉油鸡 chǐyóujī si6 yuw4 gei1

A typical dish may consist of offal and half an order of multiple varieties of roasted meat. The majority of siu laap is white meat.

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping
Rice with Chinese sausage and char siu 臘腸叉燒飯 腊肠叉烧饭 làcháng chāshāo fàn laap6 ceung4 caa1 siu1 faan6
Rice with roast goose and goose intestines 燒鵝鵝腸飯 烧鹅鹅肠饭 shāo'é écháng fàn siu1 ngo4 ngo4 coeng4 faan6
Siu mei platter 燒味拼盤 烧味拼盘 shāowèi pīnpán siu1 mei6 ping6 poon4
Siu lap platter 燒臘拼盤 烧腊拼盘 shāolà pīnpán siu1 laap6 ping6 poon4

Little Pot rice

Little pot chicken rice with vegetable and Chinese sausage (腊肠)

Little pot rice (simplified Chinese: 煲仔饭; traditional Chinese: 煲仔飯; pinyin: bāozǎifàn; Jyutping: bou1 zei2 faan6) are dishes cooked and served in a flat-bottomed pot (as opposed to a round-bottomed wok). Usually this is a saucepan or braising pan (see clay pot cooking). Such dishes are cooked by covering and steaming, making the rice and ingredients very hot and soft. Usually the ingredients are layered on top of the rice with little or no mixing in between. Many standard combinations exist.

English Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping
Rice with layered egg and beef 窩蛋牛肉飯 窝蛋牛肉饭 wōdàn niúròu fàn wo1 daan2 nguw4 yook6 faan6
Rice with minced beef patty 肉餅煲仔飯 肉饼煲仔饭 ròubǐng bāozǎifàn yuk6 bang2 bou1 zei2 faan6
Rice with spare ribs 排骨煲仔飯 排骨煲仔饭 páigǔ bāozǎifàn paai4 gwut1 bou1 zei2 faan6
Rice with steamed chicken 蒸雞肉煲仔飯 蒸鸡肉煲仔饭 zhēng jīròu bāozǎifàn zing1 gei1 yook6 bou1 zei2 faan6
Rice with Chinese sausage and preserved meat 臘味煲仔飯 腊味煲仔饭 làwèi bāozǎifàn laap6 ceung bou1 zai2 faan6

Banquet/dinner dishes

A number of dishes are traditionally served in Cantonese restaurants only at dinner times. Dim sum restaurants stop serving bamboo-basket dishes after the yum cha period (equivalent to afternoon tea) and begin offering an entirely different menu in the evening. Some dishes are standard while others are regional. Some are customised for special purposes such as Chinese marriages or banquets. Salt and pepper dishes are one of the few spicy dishes.

Cantonese banquet / dinner dishes
English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping
Crispy fried chicken 炸子雞 炸子鸡 zházǐjī zaa3 zi2 gei1
Seafood with bird's nest 海鲜雀巢 海鲜雀巢 hǎixiān quècháo hoi2 sin1 zeuhk3 caau4
Roast suckling pig 燒乳猪 烧乳猪 shāo rǔzhū siu1 ju5 jzu2
Fried tofu with shrimp 蝦仁炒豆腐 虾仁炒豆腐 xiārén chǎo dòufǔ haa1 jeung4 caau2 dou4 fu6
Roast pigeon 乳鴿 乳鸽 rǔgē yu5 gap3
Spare ribs with salt and pepper 椒鹽骨 椒盐骨 jiāoyán gǔ ziu1 yeem4 paai4 gwut
Squid with salt and pepper 椒鹽魷魚 椒盐鱿鱼 jiāoyán yóuyú ziu1 yeem4 seeun heung gwut1
Shrimp with salt and pepper 椒鹽蝦 椒盐虾 jiāoyán xiā ziu1 yeem4 haa1
Sour spare ribs 生炒排骨 生炒排骨 shēngchǎo páigǔ saang1 cao2 paai4 gwut1
Duck with taro 陳皮芋頭鴨 陈皮芋头鸭 yùtóuyā wu6 tuw4 ngaap3
Yeung Chow fried rice 揚州炒飯 扬州炒饭 Yángzhōu chǎofàn yeung4 zuw1 cao2 faan6


After the evening meal, most Cantonese restaurants offer tong sui (Chinese: 糖水; pinyin: táng shuǐ; Jyutping: tong4 seui2; literally: "sugar water"), a sweet soup. Many varieties of tong sui are also found in other Chinese cuisines. Some desserts are traditional, while others are recent innovations. The more expensive restaurants usually offer their specialty desserts.

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping
Red bean soup 紅豆沙 红豆沙 hóngdòushā hong4 duw6 tong4 seui2
Black sesame soup 芝麻糊 芝麻糊 zhīmahú zi1 maa4 wu4
Sai mai lo 西米露 西米露 xīmǐlù sei1 mei5 low6
Sweet potato soup 番薯糖水 番薯糖水 fānshǔ tángshuǐ faan1 seuu4 tong4 seui2
Mung bean soup 綠豆沙 绿豆沙 lǜdòushā duw6 saa1
Tofu flower pudding 豆腐花 豆腐花 dòufǔhuā duw6 fu6 faa1
Tortoise shell with smilax pudding 龜苓膏 龟苓膏 guīlínggāo gwei1 ling4 gou1
Sweet Chinese pastry 糕點 糕点 gāodiǎn gou1 dim2
Coconut bar 椰汁糕 椰汁糕 yēzhīgāo je4 zap1 gou1
Shaved ice 刨冰 刨冰 páobīng paau4 bing1
Steamed egg custard 燉蛋 炖蛋 dùndàn deon6 daan6
Steamed milk custard 燉奶 炖奶 dùnnǎi deon6 naai5
Double skin milk 雙皮奶 双皮奶 shuāngpínǎi soeng1 pei4 naai5


Certain Cantonese delicacies consist of parts taken from rare or endangered animals, which raises controversy over animal rights and environmental issues. This is often due to alleged health benefits of certain animal products. For example, the continued spreading of the idea that shark cartilage can cure cancer has led to decreased shark populations although scientific research has found no evidence to support the credibility of shark cartilage as a cancer cure.[6]

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Pinyin Jyutping
Braised abalone 燜鮑魚 焖鲍鱼 mèn bàoyú mun6 baau1 jyu4
Jellyfish 海蜇 海蜇 hǎizhé hoi2 zit3
Shark fin soup 魚翅湯 鱼翅汤 yúchì tāng jyu4 ci3 tong1
Sea cucumber 海參 海参 hǎishēn hoi2 saam1
Bird's nest soup 燕窩 燕窝 yànwō jin1 wo1

See also


  1. Hsiung, Deh-Ta. Simonds, Nina. Lowe, Jason. [2005] (2005). The food of China: a journey for food lovers. Bay Books. ISBN 978-0-681-02584-4. p17.
  2. Civitello, Linda (2011-03-23). Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People. p. 281. ISBN 9781118098752.
  3. Charmaine Solomon (2006-04-15). The Complete Asian Cookbook. p. 281. ISBN 9780804837576.
  4. Barber, Nicola. [2004] (2004) Hong Kong. Gareth Stevens Publishing. ISBN 0-8368-5198-6
  5. Wordie, Jason (2002). Streets: Exploring Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 962-209-563-1.

Further reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/15/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.