13+ Important Food Ingredients In Cantonese Cuisine

Wanna know the secret behind tasty Cantonese food? – ingredients. Here are some basic food ingredients in Cantonese 材料 (coi4 liu2) that you can use when cooking.

You will definitely love authentic Cantonese cuisine, from the yummy dim sum dishes deep-fried dishes to vegetable dishes. It’s really amazing to know that the Chinese food that is enjoyed by millions of people around the world came from one Chinese cuisine, which is Cantonese cuisine. With the huge population of Chinese in different parts of the world, you can easily find Cantonese restaurants and enjoy Cantonese food.

But, what makes people fall in love with Cantonese food is the mild, fresh, and natural flavors that are achieved using different ingredients, seasonings, and spices. So, today, we will learn about other food ingredients in Cantonese Cuisine. So, the next time you’ll visit a Cantonese restaurant or cook your own Cantonese dishes, you’ll know how to name them.


Cantonese Cuisine (Yue Cuisine)

Cantonese cuisine is one of the Chinese cuisines that is well-known in the world. It is also called Yue Cuisine or Guangdong Cuisine because it originated from Guangdong Province (Southeast China). It is also the Chinese cuisine that you can taste when you visit Guangzhou and Shenzhen, China, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Compared to other Chinese cuisines, Cantonese cuisine is more popular because it is the most widely-known Chinese cuisine in the world. This is because the immigrants from Guangdong were the ones who built Cantonese restaurants. Unfortunately, because of the foreign influences, the Cantonese food served in Chinese restaurants abroad has departed from the authentic Cantonese cuisine.


Cantonese Cooking Methods

Cantonese cooks explore a wide variety of cooking methods to achieve authentic Cantonese-style flavors and tastes. Cooking methods are also important to make the flavors come out from the food ingredients. These cooking methods are widely used in cooking their traditional dishes:

CantoneseJyutpingEnglish Translation
煎炒zin1 caau2stir-frying
红烧hung4 siu1red cooking
dan6gradual simmering/double boil


Food Ingredients Used In Cantonese Dishes

材料 (coi4 liu2) - Food Ingredients In Cantonese

Beef Chow fun, Stewed beef brisket, steamed fish, slow-cooked soups, Cantonese-style Fried rice, and more. These are just a few of the most popular Chinese food that belongs to Cantonese cuisine. The traditional Chinese food reflects how rich their culture is; that’s why Cantonese chefs use different food ingredients in Cantonese cuisine.

Every Cantonese chef wants to achieve mild, natural, fresh, and slightly sweet. Cantonese chefs maintain the natural flavors and freshness of their ingredients, and that’s something you should remember when you’re into Cantonese food. In cooking these dishes, they use a variety of food ingredients that are abundant in their country and those that will bring out the natural taste of the food. So, let us enumerate some basic food ingredients in Cantonese cuisine.

1. 菜 (Coi3) – Vegetable

 Food Ingredients In Cantonese - 菜 (Coi3) - Vegetable

Cantonese cuisine is rich in vegetable dishes, and stir-fried vegetables are one of the favorite Cantonese dishes in the world. Some of the all-time favorite Cantonese vegetable dishes are Yu Choy sum in oyster sauce (蠔油菜心 Hou4 Jau4 Coi3 Sam1), Stir-fried water spinach with shredded chili and fermented tofu (椒絲腐乳通菜 Ziu1 Si1 Fu6 Jyu5 Tung1 Coi3), and Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Tofu Skin (腐皮青菜 fu6 pei4 cing1 coi3).

The most frequently used vegetables in Cantonese cuisine are cabbage (椰菜 Je4 Coi3), Mushrooms 蘑菇 (Mo4 Gu1), Broccoli 西蘭花 (Sai1 Laan4 Faa1), and more. If you want to learn more about vegetables in Cantonese, you can check this blog.

2. 海鮮 (Hoi2 Sin1) – Seafood

Food Ingredients In Cantonese - 海鮮 (Hoi2 Sin1) - Seafood

The location of Guangdong Province is in Southern China near the Pearl River Delta; they have abundant access to fresh seafood ingredients. This is the reason why there are lots of seafood dishes in Cantonese cuisine. So, for seafood lovers, you can try Lobster with ginger and scallions (薑蔥龍蝦 goeng1 cung1 lung4 haa1), Steamed fish (蒸魚 zing1 yu4), and Steamed scallops with ginger and garlic (蒜茸蒸扇貝syun3 jung4 zing1 sin3 bui3).

3. 肉 (Juk6) – Meat

Food Ingredients In Cantonese - 肉 (Juk6) - Meat

Aside from vegetable dishes, Cantonese cuisine is also rich in meat dishes. Some of the well-loved meat dishes are roasted meats (燒味 siu1 mei2) like roast duck, roast goose, or roast pig and of course the famous Sweet and Sour Pork (咕嚕肉 gu1 lou1 juk6).

4. 醬油 (Zoeng3 Jau4) – Sauce

Food Ingredients In Cantonese - 醬油 (Zoeng3 Jau4) - Sauce

To bring out the natural flavors of food, a number of sauces are used in Cantonese cuisine. This is also what makes stir-fried dishes so tasty. Check out the list of sauces used by Cantonese cooks in the table below.

5. 調味料及香料 (Tiu4 Mei6 Liu2 Kap6 Hoeng1 Liu2) -Seasoning And Spices

Food Ingredients In Cantonese - 調味料及香料 (Tiu4 Mei6 Liu2 Kap6 Hoeng1 Liu2) -Seasoning And Spices

Seasonings and spices are also important food ingredients in Cantonese cuisine. Aside from enhancing the flavor of food, it also helps remove the unpleasant smell of ingredients, especially meat ingredients.

6. 米粉 (Mai5 Fan2) – Rice Noodles

Food Ingredients In Cantonese - 米粉 (Mai5 Fan2) - Rice Noodles

Cantonese cuisine is also rich in noodle dishes. One of the widely used ingredients for this is Rice Noodles (米粉 Mai5 Fan2). If you want to cook beef stir-fry with flat rice noodles (乾炒牛河gon1 caau2 ngau4 ho2), this is the main ingredient that you should have first.

7. 大蒜 (Daai6 Syun3) – Garlic

Food Ingredients In Cantonese - 大蒜 (Daai6 Syun3) - Garlic

Garlic 大蒜 (Daai6 syun3) is definitely one of the essential food ingredients in Cantonese cuisine. It is heavily used in some dishes, especially those that have an unpleasant smell. One of the famous Cantonese food that uses garlic is the Stir-fried Chinese broccoli with minced garlic 蒜蓉芥蘭 syun3 jung4 gaai3 laan2.

8. 薑 (Goeng1) – Ginger

Food Ingredients In Cantonese - 薑 (Goeng1) - Ginger

Garlic is another staple ingredient in Cantonese cuisine because it helps give the food flavor and aroma. In Cantonese cuisine, garlic helps accentuate food’s natural flavor. One of the famous Cantonese dishes with ginger as one of the main ingredients is Steamed fish with ginger and scallion (薑蔥蒸魚 goeng1 cung1 zing1 jyu2).

9. 芫茜 (Jyun4 Sai1) – Coriander Leaves

Food Ingredients In Cantonese - 芫茜 (Jyun4 Sai1) - Coriander Leaves

Coriander leaves are also one of the widely-used food ingredients in Cantonese cuisine. Aside from being used to add flavor, it is a healthy ingredient that can be easily added to your diet.

10. 韭菜 (Gau2 Coi3) – Chives

Food Ingredients In Cantonese - 韭菜 (Gau2 Coi3) - Chives

Chives are spices used in Cantonese cuisine that provides a mild tanginess to the food. It is a green vegetable with a mild-onion-like flavor that’s also best for accentuating food flavors.

11. 八角 (Baat3 gok3) – Anise

Food Ingredients In Cantonese - 八角 (Baat3 gok3) - Anise

Star anise is also one of the most commonly used food ingredients in Cantonese cuisine, which is not too popular with the Westerns. These are 8-pointed brown star seed pods. It is not only a delicious spice, but it also provides a number of health benefits.

12. 黑椒 (Hak1 Ziu1) – Black pepper

Food Ingredients In Cantonese - Black pepper

How can you enjoy the famous Cantonese Black Pepper Beef (黑椒牛肉 hak1 ziu1 ngau4 juk6) and much other Cantonese food without black peppers? Black peppers are also frequently used by Cantonese chefs. Aside from improving flavor and preserving food, it also has beneficial health effects. It has a lot of Yang; thus, it assists folks who have a lot of Yang. It also improves the immune system, aids in the removal of toxins from the blood and body, and aids in the treatment of colds, digestion, and respiratory problems.

13. 豉油 (Si6 Jau4) – Soy Sauce

Food Ingredients In Cantonese - 豉油 (Si6 Jau4) - Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is indeed one of the most commonly used condiments in Cantonese cuisine. It is one of the main ingredients of lots of famous Cantonese dishes. One of these famous dishes is Cantonese soy sauce fried noodle (豉油皇炒麵 si6 jau4 wong4 caau2 min6). Soy sauce is a liquid condiment that has a Chinese origin. It is traditionally made with fermented paste od=f soybeans, brine, roasted grain, and Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae molds. Because of this, it’s not a surprise that it is one of the widely-used food ingredients in Cantonese cuisine.


Other Food Ingredients In Cantonese

CantoneseJyutpingEnglish Translation
蒜蓉豆豉醬syun3 jung4 dau6 si6 zoeng3black bean sauce
辣椒laat6 ziu1chili peppers
叉燒醬caa1 siu1 zoeng3char siu sauce
柱侯醬cyu5 hau4 zoeng3chu hau paste
海鮮醬hoi2 sin1 zoeng3hoisin sauce
滷水lou5 seoi2master stock
橄欖油gaam3 laam5 jau4olive oil
cung1green onion/ spring onion, scallion
浙醋zit3 cou3red vinegar
米酒mai5 zau2rice wine
芝麻油zi1 maa4 jau4sesame oil
鹹蝦醬haam4 haa1 zoeng3shrimp paste
蠔油hou4 jau4oyster sauce
酸梅醬syun1 mui4 zoeng3plum sauce
糖醋醬tong4 cou3 zoeng3sweet and sour sauce
植物油zik6 mat6 jau4vegetable oil


Dried And Preserved Cantonese Food Ingredients

CantoneseJyutpingEnglish Translation
皮蛋pei4 daan2century egg
臘腸laap6 coeng2Chinese sausage
菜乾coi3 gon1dried cabbage
江瑤柱gong1 jiu4 cyu5dried scallops
蝦米haa1 mai5dried small shrimp
豆豉dau6 si6fermented black bean
腐乳fu6 jyu5fermented tofu
麵粉min6 fan2flour
梅菜mui4 coi3pickled Chinese cabbage
菜脯coi3 pou2pickled diced radish
臘鴨laap6 aap2preserved-salted duck
臘肉laap6 juk6preserved-salted pork
鹹魚haam4 jyu2salted fish
鹹酸菜haam4 syun1 coi3suan cai
腐皮tofu skinfu6 pei4


Cantonese Phrases/Sentences Related To Food Ingredients

CantoneseJyutpingEnglish Translation
蒜頭及蒜片syun3 tau4 kap6 syun3 pin2garlic bulb and cloves
一樽食油jat1 zeon1 sik6 jau4a bottle of cooking oil
薑這種香料可以用在煮食及藥用。goeng1 ze2 zung2 hoeng1 liu2 ho2 ji5 jung6 zoi6 zyu2 sik6 kap6 joek6 jung6.The spice ginger is used for cooking and medicine.
醬油在哪裡?zoeng3 jau4 zoi6 naa5 leoi5?Where is the sauce?
加芝麻油煎炒gaa1 zi1 maa4 jau4 zin1 caau2Add sesame oil and stir-fry it.
用植物油比用豬油更健康。jung6 zik6 mat6 jau4 bei2 jung6 zyu1 jau4 gang3 gin6 hong1.Using vegetable oil instead of lard makes food taste lighter.
所有食譜的重點是用新鮮材料。so2 jau5 sik6 pou2 dik1 zung6 dim2 si6 jung6 san1 sin1 coi4 liu2.Using fresh ingredients is an important part of any recipe.


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