21 Traditional Cantonese Meals: The Best List

Traditional Cantonese Meals - Ling

Craving some authentic and traditional Cantonese meals? Here’s a quick list of must-try Cantonese meals that will surely satisfy your taste buds.

What comes into your mind when you think about your favorite Chinese restaurant? What Chinese food can you think of? Dim sum, soup dumplings, rice porridge, steamed fish, and other Chinese dishes that we enjoy; who will think that it all came from the Guangdong Province in Southern China?

In this blog, let’s satisfy our cravings by learning about traditional Cantonese meals filled with signature Cantonese flavors.

The Cantonese Cuisine

Cantonese food became systematic from the 19th century until the present. At that time, a great number of people from Guangdong immigrated to the west and founded Chinese restaurants serving Cantonese food, which has remained the most popular Chinese cuisine in the globe to this day.

Cantonese flavor is characterized as natural, fresh, mild, and slightly sweet, very different from the taste of Chinese food, such as the Sichuan style. Cantonese chefs seek to keep the authentic flavor of the meal while bringing out the natural flavor of the meat, veggies, and fruits. These recipes are prepared without the use of grease or other dairy products.

Cantonese cuisine’s most common cooking methods are steaming, stir-frying, and roasting. Other popular foods include roast duck, chicken, pork belly and char siu pork, sweet and sour dishes, and many more.

Currently, Cantonese foods and Cantonese recipes are one of the most popular dishes in the world.

What Are The Traditional Cantonese Meals In The Cantonese Cuisine

The Cantonese term for meal is 餐 (caan1). Now that you know some important information about Cantonese cuisine let us learn some traditional Cantonese meals and other related vocabulary.

1. Cantonese-Style Fried Rice – 廣式炒飯 (Gwong2 Sik1 Cau2 Faan6)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling- Cantonese-Style Fried Rice

The first classic Cantonese dish that we’ll talk about is Cantonese-style fried rice. This is indeed one of the most popular Cantonese dishes that you can see in our favorite Chinese restaurants.

This dish, known in Cantonese as “炒飯 (Chao Fan)” or “stir-fried rice,” is a fantastic classic. At home, we prefer it as a complete dinner that can be quickly prepared when there is leftover rice, and we don’t have time to prepare something more elaborate. It may also be served with meat and/or soup.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
faan6rice
炒飯caau2 faan6fried rice
剩下zing6 haa6-leftover
juk6 meat
煎炒 zin1 caau2stir-fry

2. Choy Sum in Oyster Sauce – 蠔油菜心 (Hou4 Jau4 Coi3 Sam1)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Choy Sum in Oyster Sauce

As its name suggests, Hong Kong Choy Sum is a green leafy vegetable that originates in Hong Kong and has broad leaves and thick stalks. The Chinese Flowering Cabbage is another name for this vegetable. You can eat the whole thing, from the stem to the leaves to the flowers, in a stir-fry, blanched, or even raw.

One of the sweetest-tasting Chinese leafy green vegetables is Chinese yu choy, particularly when it is selected when it is young and fresh. Although it is less prevalent than the Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce that we find more frequently, you may have seen this vegetable served with oyster sauce and lightly blanched at dim sum restaurants.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
白灼baak6 coek3blanching
菜心coi3 sam1Hong Kong Choy Sum
蠔油hou4 jau4oyster sauce
蔬菜so1 coi3vegetable
coi3vegetables

3. Steamed Egg – 蒸水蛋 (Zing1 Seoi2 Daan2)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Steamed Egg

If you’ve ever had Chinese steamed egg, which is sometimes called egg custard, you’ll be blown away by how smooth and fresh it tastes.

The perfect steamed egg from China, which is soft, smooth, and tender, is comfort food for many Chinese children and a dish that saves time for home cooks. We love to steam an egg in a small bowl and serve it as a side dish or make a big bowl for the whole family to share.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
daan2egg
新鮮san1 sin1fresh
jyun5soft
waat6smooth
nyun6tender

4. Sweet and Sour Pork – 咕嚕肉 (Gu1 Lou1 Juk6)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Sweet and Sour Pork

Everyone knows what sweet and sour pork is. It’s a famous dish worldwide, and most cultures have their own way of making it, which I think is great! Tangsuyuk is the Korean version, Subuta is the Japanese version, and the Caribbeans have their own version.

Sweet and sour pork is a well-known Cantonese dish that both kids and adults love. The pork is perfectly breaded and fried, and the sauce is a delicious mix of pineapple juice, soy sauce, and other flavors. Overall, this recipe is a hit for everyone. The delicious pork can please even the pickiest eaters in China and the rest of the world.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
tim4sweet
syun1sour
菠蘿汁bo1 lo4 zap1pineapple juice
豬肉zyu1 juk6pork
醬油zoeng3 jau4sauce
豉油si6 jau4soy sauce
zin1to fry, to pan fry

5. Shrimp Dumplings – 虾饺 (Haa1 Gaau2)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Shrimp Dumplings

Har Gow (dim sum shrimp dumplings) are a pleasure to eat and look at. They have a juicy filling wrapped in thin, clear skin. Har Gow is different from other Chinese dumplings because its skin is thin and see-through. This is why Har Gow is also called “crystal shrimp dumpling (水晶虾饺)” on many menus.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
餃子gaau2 zi2dumplings
haa1shrimp

6. Steamed Pork Buns – 叉烧包 (Caa1 Siu1 Baau1)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Steamed Pork Buns

Another crowd’s favorite in Cantonese cuisine is the steamed pork buns (叉烧包 Caa1 Siu1 Baau1). As far as traditional Cantonese dim sum goes, Char Siu Bao/Char Siu Pao/Cha Siu Bao is unrivaled in popularity. An exquisite and exotic meal of dim sum can be among the best you’ve ever had. The meaty filling, soy-based thick gravy, and pillowy bun come together in a harmonious symphony of flavor.

Cha Siu Bao is barbecued pork in a bun. Chinese people call barbecued pork Char Siu which is where the name Cha Siu Bao comes from. Most people eat this pork bun in the morning or early afternoon. It is usually served with Chinese tea, which people in Hong Kong call yum cha (drinking tea). Today, many Chinese restaurants all over the world have lunch menus with barbecue on them.

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
zing1steam
餡料 haam6 liu6*2 filling
飲茶 jam2 caa4drinking tea

7. Cantonese Steamed Fish – 蒸魚 (Zing1 Jyu4)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Cantonese Steamed Fish

Cantonese steamed fish is a simple, traditional dish that is often one of the last dishes at a Chinese banquet (right before the last rice and noodle course). Finished with a light soy sauce, Cantonese Steamed Fish is a healthy and simple dish suitable for any occasion.

If it’s served at Lunar New Year banquets, you know it’s something special. Despite being a staple at any and all family gatherings, Cantonese Steamed Fish with Ginger and Shallots is still modest enough to be enjoyed as part of a simple weeknight spread.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
jyu2 fish
goeng1ginger
蔥頭 cung1 tau4shallots

8. Rice Rolls – 肠粉 (Coeng4 Fan2)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Rice Rolls

Cheung fun 肠粉 (Coeng4 Fan2) is a general term for sheets of rice noodles that have been rolled up. It can be used to talk about rice noodle rolls with or without fillings (shrimp, minced beef, or dried shrimp and scallions cooked into the rice noodles).

The rice noodle rolls are much easier to make than they look. All you have to do is make the batter and steam a thin layer of it at a time. Of course, it will take some time to make the cheung fun. But when you bite into one of the tender rice noodle rolls, you’ll know it was all worth it.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
米粉mai5 fan2rice noodles
cung1scallions
牛肉 ngau4 juk6 beef

9. Wonton Noodles – 云吞面 (Wan4 Tan1 Min6)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Wonton Noodles

Cantonese Wonton Noodle Soup is a simple, easy-to-understand bowl of noodles you can get at most Cantonese restaurants. But if you don’t live near Chinatown or a Cantonese restaurant, you’ll want to try it at home. 

Making Cantonese wonton noodles is traditionally an art. Fresh flour and eggs make the wonton wrappers and noodles. Fresh shrimp and pork flavor the wontons. Soup made with pork stock, dried fish, and shrimp. Slow-cook until translucent, light amber color. Each sip of the mild hot broth smells like a sea breeze.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
漿 zoeng1broth
猪肉汤zyu1 juk6 tong1 pork stock
雲吞wan4 tan1wonton dumpling
鹹魚haam4 jyu4*2dried fish/ salted fish

10. Char siu – 叉烧 (Caa1 Siu1)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Char siu

Char siu (叉烧) is a type of roasted meat from Cantonese cuisine. It is made by marinating pork in a sweet barbecue sauce and then roasting it. Over time, the char siu (叉烧) you can get in noodle shops and roast meat restaurants in Chinatowns all over the world has taken on a distinctive sweet flavor. But many restaurants today don’t use enough spices.

A good Char siu recipe has a rich flavor, with a balance of salty and sweet flavors, as well as a dash of spiciness that complements the pork and allows it to stand alone with blanched Choy sum and steamed rice.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
燒烤醬 siu1 haau1 zoeng3BBQ sauce
jip3marinate
燒味haau1 roast
燒味 siu1 mei2roasted meat
haam4 salty

11. Stewed Beef Brisket – 柱侯牛腩 (Cyu5 Hau4 Ngau4 Naam5)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Stewed Beef Brisket

A hearty bowl of braised brisket stew, seasoned with onions, garlic, and bay leaves, is the perfect way to warm up on a chilly winter day. Beef stew is the quintessential winter warmer. It is a deliciously tender beef that has been slowly cooked in a rich beef broth.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
大蒜 daai6 syun3garlic
bou1stew
洋葱 joeng4 cung1onion

12. Beef Chow Fun – 乾炒牛河 (gon1 caau2 ngau4 ho2)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Beef Chow Fun

Beef chow fun, a popular Cantonese dish, is made by stir-frying beef with wide rice noodles, ginger, scallions, bean sprouts, and dark soy sauce. Cantonese roasted meat restaurants and dim sum restaurants often serve this dish.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
芽菜 ngaa4 coi3 bean sprout
老抽 llou5 cau1 dark soy sauce
goeng1ginger
燒味siu1 mei2roasted meat

13. Lo Mein – 撈麵 (Lou1 Min6)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Lo Mein

Lo mein is essentially just tossed or mixed noodles. Vegetables and protein, like chicken, beef, pig, shellfish, or tofu, are typically seen in lo mein dishes. Lo mein is essentially a dry version of classic noodle soup.

This is a type of noodle soup that is usually served dry. The soup is just served on the side, separate from the noodles and other ingredients.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
拉麵 laai1 min6noodles
雞肉 gai1 juk6 chicken (meat)
豆腐 dau6 fu6tofu
貝類bui3 leoi6 shellfish

14. Cantonese Roast Duck – 燒鴨 (Siu1 Aap3)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Cantonese Roast Duck

Chinese roast duck, often known as Cantonese roast duck, is a form of Siu mei. These are marinated meats that are roasted over an open flame or on a rotisserie spit. They have a strong BBQ flavor and are coated with specially made-sauces. Siu mei is a traditional dish in Hong Kong. Sui mei is expected to be eaten every four days by the average resident.

Siu mei is frequently sold alongside other Cantonese-style preserved meats and pickles in Chinese BBQ restaurants. Although similar in appearance, Chinese Roast Duck and Peking Duck are not the same things.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
aaap3 duck
燒味 siu1 mei2roasted meat
海鮮 hoi2 sin1seafood

15. Chicken In Soy Sauce – 豉油雞 (Si6 Jau4 Gai1)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Chicken In Soy Sauce

Soy sauce chicken is a classic dish that is tasty, comforting, and easy to make in many different ways. Soy sauce chicken, which in Cantonese is called See Yao Gai, is a classic dish that many people love. Although not cooked in an oven or over an open fire like Char Siu, roast goose, etc., it’s considered to be a Siu Mei dish sold at Cantonese-style BBQ shops.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
焗爐guk6 lou4oven
好味 hou2 mei6delicious; tasty
豉油 si6 jau4 soy sauce

16. White Cut Chicken – 白切雞 (Baak6 Cit3 Gai1)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-White Cut Chicken

In Chinese culture, there are many sayings and beliefs about chicken that have to do with luck, money, and being strong. White Cut Chicken with Ginger Scallion dipping sauce is indeed one of the most popular Cantonese traditional meals. This delicious dish is made of a whole chicken poached with ginger and scallions, basted in sesame oil. It is served with a ginger scallion dipping savory sauce.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
雞肉 gai1 juk6 chicken (meat)
芝麻油 zi1 maa4 jau4sesame oil
醬油zoeng3 jau4sauce

17. Congee With Lean Pork And Century Egg – 皮蛋瘦肉粥 (Pei4 Daan2 Sau3 Juk6 Zuk1)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Congee With Lean Pork And Century Egg

The Cantonese Century Egg and Pork Congee is the creamiest congee you will ever eat. It is slow-cooked until it is smooth and silky, and then it is mixed with tender spare ribs that melt off the bone.

If you’ve never had congee, it’s a rice porridge made with rice and water that’s pronounced ‘jook’ in Cantonese. The cooking method is similar to that of porridge, in that the mixture is boiled and stirred over a stovetop until the grains and water have broken down.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
daan2egg
zuk1 porridge
排骨paai4 gwat1 spare ribs

18. Stir-fried Water Spinach With Shredded Chilli And Fermented Tofu – 椒絲腐乳通菜 (Ziu1 Si1 Fu6 Jyu5 Tung1 Coi3)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Stir-fried Water Spinach With Shredded Chilli And Fermented Tofu

If you want to know what Chinese side dish is usually served with dinner, you’ll find the answer right here. Stir-fried water spinach with fermented bean curd is a family favorite that is colorful and very tasty. You could eat it every day if you want to.

Water spinach is a tropical plant with delicate leaves and shoots that grows in water or damp soil. Its mild flavor makes it popular for stir-fries.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
菠菜 bo1 coi3spinach
發酵faat3 gaau3ferment
腐乳 fu6 jyu5fermented bean curd

19. Steamed Ground Pork with Salted Duck Egg – 鹹蛋蒸肉餅 (Haam4 Daan2 Zing1 Juk6 Beng2)

One of Hong Kong’s staple foods is steamed pork (蒸肉餅 Haam4 Daan2 Zing1 Juk6 Beng2).  Steamed pork is so adaptable that every family has their own way of making it.  Mastering the fundamental procedure opens up a world of opportunity. You can adjust the proportions of the ingredients to your liking. Preserved vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, or squid can be used to make alternative versions.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
冬菇dung1 gu1 shiitake mushrooms
魷魚 jau4 jyu2 squid
冬菜dung1 coi3 preserved vegetables

20. Glutinous Rice Balls – 湯圓 (Tong1 Jyun4)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Glutinous Rice Balls

This dish, whose name translates to “soup balls,” is commonly served at family gatherings to symbolize harmony and unity. These chewy dumplings can be filled with black sesame paste or chopped peanuts, two ingredients that are common in many Chinese New Year dishes.

Arriving in time for this dessert, whose name sounds like tyun4 jyun4 (團圓), meaning “to be reunited,” is essential even if you miss out on other parts of the traditional large family meal. When it comes to tong1 jyun2, most households have one aunt or grandmother who is the go-to expert.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
花生faa1 sang1peanut
黑芝麻 hak1 zi1 maa4 black sesame
糯米飯no6 mai5 faan6glutinous rice/ sticky rice

21. Egg Tart – 蛋挞 (Daan2 Daat3)

Traditional Cantonese Meals-Ling-Egg Tart

Now, let us go to a sweet treat. Do you have any experience with Hong Kong egg tarts? There are two distinct varieties of egg tarts that are favorites in China. The Portuguese egg tart is characterized by a thin, layered, and crisp pastry shell that is caramelized on top. The other one is the traditional Hong Kong egg tart which is less sweet than the American version and is known for its flaky, crumbly pastry crust.

It’s important to get a few things just right if you want your Hong Kong egg tarts to turn out to taste amazing. The tart’s crust, which is layered and incredibly thin, is a work of art. It’s crisp, but not too much so, and it’s also tender and juicy. You could easily wash down the filling with a glass of milk because it is so mild, creamy, and subtly sweet.

Related Vocabulary

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
gou1 pastry
牛奶ngau4 naai5milk
焦糖ziu1 tong4caramel
芥末醬 gaai3 mut6 zoeng3custard

Cantonese Vocabulary Related To Cantonese Meals

Now that you have learned different traditional meals, here are some related vocabularies that you might want to learn.

Ingredients and Sauces

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
配料pui3 liu6*2ingredients
麵包min6 baau1bread
韭菜gau2 coi3garlic chives/Chinese chives
烹飪paang1 jam6cooking
食油sik6 jau4cooking oil
糯米粉no6 mai5 fan2glutinous rice flour
海鮮醬hoi2 sin1 zoeng3hoisin sauce
碎肉seoi3 juk6minced pork/minced meat
白飯baak6 faan6plain white rice
泡菜paau3 coi3pickled vegetables
小菜siu2 choi3small side dishes
醬油zoeng3 jau4sauce
上湯soeng6 tong1soup stock
小麥siu2 maak6wheat

Meat

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
雞肉gai1 juk6chicken
牛肉ngau4 juk6beef
海鮮hoi2 sin1seafood
豬肉zyu1 juk6pork
jyu2fish

Utensils And Things Found In The Kitchen

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
煤氣爐mui4 hei3 lou4charcoal stove
wok6wok
筷子faai3 zi2chopsticks
菜刀 coi3 dou1cleaver
砧板zam1 baan2cutting board/chopping Board
锅铲wo1 caan2wok shovel
蒸笼zing1 lung4steaming basket
煲仔bou1 zai2clay pot

Flavors

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
濃味nung4 mei6rich flavor/ rich in flavor
tim4sweet
syun1sour
haam4salty
fu2bitter
laat6spicy

Other Vocabularies

CantoneseRomanizationEnglish Translation
亞洲市場ngaa3 zau1 si5 coeng4Asian markets
粵菜烹飪jyut6 coi3 paang1 jam5Cantonese cooking
唐人街tong4 jan4 gaai1Chinatown
大餐daai6 caan1course meal
套餐tou3 caan1set meal
急凍食品gap1 dung3 sik6 ban2frozen meals
外賣ngoi6 maai6ready meal
素食sou3 sik6vegetarian meal

Meals Are Better With Company! Learn Cantonese Now!

There’s no doubt that Cantonese meals are delicious. But meals are best enjoyed with company. Imagine having conversations with newly-founded Hong Konger friends while eating Cantonese food. Isn’t that amazing? So, why not learn Cantonese with Ling app?

Ling app is one of the leading language learning apps that can help you learn a language in record time. It has well-developed features that will develop your language skills. With the Ling app, language learning can be both meaningful and enjoyable. So, start your first lesson with Ling app now!

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