Love Cantonese culture and can’t get enough of new things to learn? It’s a must to learn more about their cuisine. Nothing brings people together like good food. Everywhere we go, one of the things we never forget to put on our bucket list is the food.
In this blog, you will learn about the different Cantonese food you must try. You’ll not just learn more about the cuisine, but you’ll also learn Cantonese vocabulary. We won’t keep you waiting. Let’s get into it!
Chinese Food And Cantonese Food: What Is The Difference?
Think about your favorite Chinese restaurant. I’m sure that just by just thinking about it, it will make you crave your favorite Chinese food. China is a really huge country. No wonder there are different cuisines that originated from the country and became famous all over the world. Chinese food contains eight different cuisines, and Cantonese is just one of them.
When you look at the menu of your favorite Chinese restaurant, you can probably see something like Wonton, Congee, and Chow Fun. Surprisingly, all of these are Cantonese dishes. Did you know that most of the famous Chinese restaurants all over the world offer Cantonese cuisine? You heard it right. We all know that the Cantonese part of China includes Guangdong Province, Hong Kong, and Macau. The Cantonese-speaking immigrants were the first to move out to the West. This is why Cantonese cuisine is the most known Chinese cuisine.
Now that you already know a little about Cantonese cuisine, let’s go deeper.
Cantonese cuisine, also called Yuè cài (粤菜), has a long history and features with a wide use of materials and rich cooking methods. It consists of Guangzhou dishes, Chaozhou dishes, and Dongjiang dishes. When Cantonese started moving to the West, they brought Cantonese cuisine with them, which gave way to the introduction of Cantonese dishes globally.
Cantonese Cuisine – How Did It Start?
The richness of Cantonese cuisine can be traced down from its history. Let’s travel back 2,000 years ago and go back all the way from where it started.
- Han Dynasty – During this time, particular cooking methods were already used by the chefs, and they were already good at cooking different materials.
- Southern Song Dynasty – Many chefs who had already mastered their skills gathered in Guangzhou after the capital was moved to the south. They contributed to developing Cantonese cuisine and Cantonese cooking techniques. And so for this reason, Cantonese food is very tasty and unique.
- Ming Dynasty – Qing Dynasty – Restaurants, hotels, snacks, and tea houses can be seen all over Guangzhou. Cantonese cuisine became systematic during this time.
- 19th Century – Present – A large number of people from Guangdong immigrated to the West. They ran Chinese restaurants and served Cantonese cuisine, which became the most popular Chinese cuisine all over the world even up to the present.
Natural, Fresh, Mild, And Slightly Sweet – The Tasteful Flavor Of Cantonese Cuisine
Chinese food all over the world might taste different because of lots of oil and spices. This taste of Chinese food, like the Sichuan style, is very different from the Cantonese style. Cantonese chefs want to preserve the food’s original flavor. They aim to highlight the original flavor of the meat, vegetables, and fruits. Grease and other dairy products are not used in cooking these dishes.
Most of the food is not fattening and does not have a lot of calories. But generally, it does have a little sugar. Foreigners may find it hard to appreciate this distinct flavor of authentic Cantonese food because it might taste bland compared to the typical Chinese food you often buy at Chinese restaurants in other countries.
Condiments And Seasonings In Cantonese
As stated above, only a small amount of spices is used in cooking Cantonese dishes. The spices that chefs commonly use are the following:
- Coriander leaves
- Black pepper
- Sliver of ginger
- Sesame Oil
- Soy sauce
- Oyster sauce
These spices highlight the taste and flavor of the food. A sliver of ginger and sesame oil adds a mild tanginess (distinctively sharp taste) to the food. Vinegar and salt highlight the taste of the vegetables. But if the food already tastes delicious as it is, there’s no need to add seasonings and condiments.
Cooking Methods And Techniques In Hong Kong
Guangdong province, Hong Kong, and Macau have subtropical climates, making them ideal places to grow crops. It is also located near the Pearl River Delta, which occasionally floods, also making it an ideal place to grow rice. The location of these places is perfect for farming cultivation grounds for crops and different kinds of animals. They are also near the ocean, which gives them an abundance of seafood.
Because of their access to fresh ingredients, steaming is the preferred cooking method. It brings out the ingredients’ natural flavor. Chefs also use stir-frying, sautéing, deep-frying, roasting, shallow frying, boiling, braising, and even baking. They are skillful in controlling heat or fire. What’s more exciting is that Cantonese chefs also decorate the dishes, so they will taste not only good but also looks good in appearance.
What Are Some Popular Cantonese Dishes?
I know this is all that you have been waiting for. After knowing the basics of Cantonese cuisine, let’s now discover the different dishes that you must try when visiting your favorite Chinese restaurant.
Like other cuisines, beef, pork, and fish are some main ingredients on their menus, but here is a fun fact. Did you know that there is also food that uses snakes, which is usually served in soup? To continue, here is some Cantonese food that you must try.
White Cut Chicken/Baak6 Cit3 Gai1 (白切雞) [Speechword voice=”Chinese (Hong Kong) Male” isinline]白切雞[/Speechword]
This dish came from the Hainan province. This boiled, white-cut chicken is served with a smile and a ginger-scallion dipping sauce. Its flavorful taste makes it really popular in the Cantonese region.
Sweet And Sour Pork/Táng Cù Gū Lū Ròu (糖醋咕噜肉) [Speechword voice=”Chinese (Hong Kong) Male” isinline]糖醋咕噜肉[/Speechword]
Sounds familiar, right? It’s because it is really famous all over the world. In fact, some cultures have their own version of it. A traditional Cantonese-style Sweet and sour pork is made with crispy pork, pineapple, peppers, and onions with a sticky sweet and sour sauce. This is a perfect way to satisfy your authentic Cantonese food cravings.
Wonton Noodles/Yún Tūn Miàn (云吞面) [Speechword voice=”Chinese (Hong Kong) Male” isinline]云吞面[/Speechword]
Just like how in the US, where you’ll just walk in the streets, and you’ll find Starbucks, in Hong Kong, you can easily find a place for Wonton soup. The Wonton wrappers and noodles are fresh. It is filled with shrimp and a touch of pork. The soup consists of pork stock, dried fish, and shrimp. This is perfect, especially during cold weather.
Clay Pot Rice/Bāo Zaǐ Fàn (煲仔饭) [Speechword voice=”Chinese (Hong Kong) Male” isinline]煲仔饭[/Speechword]
Just like its name, it is cooked over a charcoal stove in a clay pot. It is a white rice dish in a clay pot flavored with Chinese mushrooms, salted egg, and sausage served with dark soya sauce. What makes it look more delicious is the vegetable toppings. It will take 20-30 minutes. However, it is surely worth the wait.
Beef Chow Fun/Gàn Chǎo Niú Hé (干炒牛河) [Speechword voice=”Chinese (Hong Kong) Male” isinline]干炒牛河[/Speechword]
This is possibly not a new menu for you. You might be seeing this a lot in a typical Chinese restaurant’s menu in Guangdong, Hongkong, and overseas. Beef chow fun is made from stir-fried beef, hor fun (wide rice noodles), and bean sprouts. It is also popular around the world!
Congee/Zhōu (粥) [Speechword voice=”Chinese (Hong Kong) Male” isinline]粥[/Speechword]
When we talk about breakfast, this will probably be one of the dishes that will come to your mind. It is popular around the world because it is basically rice porridge. A wide range of side dishes, like pickled vegetables, dried pork, and century eggs, can be found in this dish. So can you imagine a breakfast without at least one porridge meal in it?
Dim Sum/Steamed Spare Ribs In Black Bean Sauce/Chǐ Zhī Zhēng Pái Gǔ (豉汁蒸排骨) [Speechword voice=”Chinese (Hong Kong) Male” isinline]豉汁蒸排骨[/Speechword]
People really love dim sum. This dish has juicy pork ribs and a flavorful black bean sauce that’s perfect with rice.
Soup Dumplings/Seoi2 Gaau2 (水饺) [Speechword voice=”Chinese (Hong Kong) Male” isinline]水饺[/Speechword]
When we talk about steamed food, it is impossible not to mention soup dumplings. It is a small, flavorful, and delicious pork dumpling. It is surely popular all over the world and can be easily found in any Chinese restaurant.
Chinese Pork Barbeque/Char Siu (叉燒) [Speechword voice=”Chinese (Hong Kong) Male” isinline]叉燒[/Speechword]
It is a type of Cantonese-roasted meat. The marinated pork is traditionally skewered with long forks and roasted in an oven or over an open fire. Char Siu is definitely one of the must-try dishes when you go to different Chinese or Cantonese restaurants.
Poached Lobster In Soup/Shàng Tāng Jú Long Xiā (上汤焗龙虾) [Speechword voice=”Chinese (Hong Kong) Male” isinline]上汤焗龙虾[/Speechword]
The white and tender lobster with a delicious taste is served with soup stock. This should absolutely be on your list when you want high-protein and low-fat Cantonese food.
Cantonese food is certainly one of the most popular cuisines, not just because it came from China but also because of its natural-tasting flavors. If this is your first time eating at a Cantonese restaurant, they will offer you a variety of dishes, from pork recipes to beef, fish, and other seafood. The taste and flavors of Cantonese cuisine are a reflection of their culture.
Where Can You Eat These Dishes? – Cantonese Restaurants In Hong Kong
If you happen to visit Hong Kong and want to try this food, here are some restaurants that can offer you the best Cantonese food experience you’re looking for:
After knowing the different Cantonese dishes that you must try, what are you waiting for? Go to your favorite Cantonese restaurant and grab some of these dishes. But if you are planning to go to Guangdong Province, Hong Kong, or Macau, make sure to pack a few Cantonese words and phrases that you might need. Learn how to speak Cantonese using the Ling app to complete your wonderful Cantonese food experience.
Learn More About Cantonese With Ling
A fun-filled language-learning app is one of the best ways to retain words and phrases you’ll encounter in any language. Especially if you want to impress your Cantonese friends with the Cantonese food that you’ll try cooking. With Ling, you’ll not only learn one language at a time, but you can choose over 60+ languages too!
Are you up for a reading challenge? The Ling app offers tons of reading exercises, along with writing, speaking, and listening activities too. Did we also tell you it’s just one click away from the App Store or Play Store? If you’re looking for the best app that offers the most for discovering new words right away, then look no further and use the Ling app now!