10+ Important Vegetables In Cantonese To Learn

Are you planning to go on a trip for the first time to China, Macau, or Hong Kong? One of the things you should not miss out on is the unique vegetables that you can find only in these places. Have you tried Cantonese Chinese leafy greens stir-fried in oyster sauce? If you have not heard about it before then let’s learn the translations for vegetables in Cantonese 蔬菜 (So1 Coi3) in this post!

Cantonese cuisine is one of the most popular Chinese cuisines in the world. The distinguished flavor of this cuisine is lightly cooked fresh Chinese vegetables and meat and sweet sauces. Cantonese cuisine originates from Guangdong Province in Mainland China and Hong Kong. These places are located near the sea, and the lands are mostly flooded, that’s why it’s suitable for growing crops and rice. This is why the most common ingredients in Cantonese dishes are fresh from the sea and vegetables, which is good in stir-fries.

So, in this blog, we will talk about vegetables in Cantonese. If this is your first time learning Cantonese, don’t worry because there is an English translation and pronunciation in every word that you’ll know.


What Is The Cantonese Word For Vegetables?

Vegetables in Cantonese

蔬菜 (So1 Coi3) – Vegetable / Vegetables

Before we go any further, the first word you should learn in this topic is saying the word “vegetable” in Cantonese. Native Cantonese speakers use “蔬菜 (So1 Coi3)” to say vegetables. For some, they might know Chinese vegetables as “Choy Sum.” However, if you have encountered the word 蔬菜 (Shūcài), do not be confused because it also means “vegetables” but in Mandarin.


Cantonese Vegetable Dishes

What is your favorite Cantonese Chinese vegetable dish? If you’re a fan of Cantonese cuisine, you surely heard about different delicious dishes such as lo mein, chow fun, and chow mein. These Cantonese dishes are indeed remarkable, but one thing that is present mainly among these dishes is the use of different vegetables as ingredients.

Before we learn about different vegetables in Cantonese, let us first know some Cantonese vegetable dishes. Below are some simple recipes that you can follow.

蠔油菜心 (Hou4 Jau4 Coi3 Sam1)

English Translation: Yu Choy sum in oyster sauce

This recipe is easy to cook because you just need choy sum, vegetable oil, finely chopped garlic, and oyster sauce. When you have these ingredients, blanch the choy sum in a pan of boiling water. Leave it for 30 seconds, drain, and set it aside. After boiling, heat the oil in a wok, or deep pan, then stir-fry the garlic and choy sum. After a few minutes, add the oyster sauce then it’s ready for serving.

椒絲腐乳通菜 (Ziu1 Si1 Fu6 Jyu5 Tung1 Coi3)

English Translation: Stir-fried water spinach with shredded chili and fermented tofu

Another popular vegetable dish in Cantonese cuisine is the Stir-fried water spinach with shredded chili and fermented tofu. To make this, you’ll be needing a bunch of Chinese water spinach, canola oil, sliced ginger, dried chili peppers, garlic, white fermented tofu, sugar, salt, white pepper, and Shaoxing wine.

To cook this dish, first, you must remove the larger, tough stems from the vegetables and retain the thinner and tender stems. Wash the vegetables thoroughly and drain. Then, heat the oil in the wok then add ginger. After a few seconds, you can add the dried chilies, fermented tofu, garlic, salt, sugar, and white pepper.

Next, stir in the greens and continue to stir fry over high heat. Move the vegetables into a mound in the middle of the wok after approximately a minute. Add the wine around the perimeter of the wok after around 30 seconds of high heat, then quickly distribute your vegetable mound in a circular pattern around the wok to obtain that searing effect. This should last for 15-30 minutes until it’s ready to be plated and served.

粤菜鸡炒 (Jyut6 Coi3 Gai1 Caau2)

English Translation: Cantonese Chicken And Vegetable Stir-fry

You should learn another 25-minute cooking time for Cantonese dishes is the Cantonese Chicken And Vegetable Stir-fry. To cook this, prepare olive oil, a pound of thinly-sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced carrots, bok choy, snow peas, Cantonese light sauce, and cooked rice.

The cooking procedure is simple. First, heat a wok over high heat, then add the oil. After a few seconds, stir-fry the chicken, then transfer it to a plate when it’s cooked. Next, wipe the pan and reduce the heat into the medium. This is the time when you add the carrots and water, then stir and wait for it to be tender. Then, you can add the bok choy stem and cook it for 2 minutes. After this, add the bok choy leaves, peas, and Cantonese light sauce while increasing the heat to high. When you can already see bubbles and the sauce thickens, stir-fry the chicken until it’s cooked.

薑蔥龍蝦 (Goeng1 Cung1 Lung4 Haa1)

English Translation: Lobster with ginger and scallions

The last Cantonese vegetable dish that we will learn is the Lobster with ginger and scallions. This dish has a longer time to prepare since it includes Lobster. So, start with gathering the ingredients first. You’ll need some Shaoxing wine or dry sherry, soy sauce, cornstarch, low sodium chicken stock, soft shell lobsters, vegetable, canola, peanut oil, white pepper, salt, ginger, and scallions, green pepper, and chives.

To prepare, first, combine the wine, soy sauce, corn starch in a mixing bowl, then mix it until it is smooth. Then, stir the chicken stock and set it aside. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a saucepan or wok fitted with a steamer attachment. Steam it for 3 minutes after adding the lobsters. Remove from the pan and place on a chopping board. Allow cooling slightly before serving.

The next step is with the lobsters. Lobster tails and claws should be twisted off, then rinse the guts out of the lobster head. Split the tails lengthwise in half, then crosswise into thirds to make six pieces. Make sure to transfer it to a large bowl. Remove both knuckles from each paw and place them in the basin with the tails. Then, break off the little side of the claw and place it in the basin. Cut each claw in half to expose the meat and place it in the bowl.

Get a wok and heat it. Season lobster with pepper and salt, then add the remaining cornstarch to the bowl. Then add the lobster pieces carefully, one piece at a time. Fry the Lobster until the cornstarch is crisp and golden brown, then transfer it to a colander.

The final steps include pouring off all but one tablespoon of oil and heating the wok in high heat. This is the time to add the ginger, scallions, yellow chives, and hot pepper, then cook and stir them. Return the Lobster to the pan and toss it around to coat it. Add the wine mixture to the wok and stir well. Cook and constantly stir and toss until the mixture has bubbled and thickened. Finally, put it on a platter, garnish it, then serve.


Common Vegetables In Cantonese Cuisine

Vegetables are stapled in Cantonese cuisine. If they are not used for ingredients, they are used as a garnish to make the plating looks nice when served. After learning about Cantonese food and flavors, let’s now learn the different vegetables in Cantonese.

椰菜 (Je4 Coi3) – Cabbage

椰菜 (Je4 Coi3) - Cabbage

The first Cantonese / Chinese vegetable that we will learn is the cabbage 椰菜 (Je4 Coi3). Different types of cabbage are used in various cuisines. Some of the widely used types of cabbage are napa cabbage, Taiwanese cabbage, and savoy cabbage. You can mostly see cabbages in stir-fried dishes, lo meins, and even egg rolls.

黃芽白 (Wong4 Ngaa4 Baak6) – Napa Cabbage

黃芽白 (Wong4 Ngaa4 Baak6) - Napa Cabbage

The napa cabbage is a vegetable in Cantonese cuisine that originated from the Beijing region of China. It is a pale green, large, and has a very mild flavor. This is one widely used vegetable in Cantonese cuisine, especially in making soups, stir-fries, noodle dishes, dumpling dishes, and slaws.

薯仔 (Syu4 Zai2) – Potato

薯仔 (Syu4 Zai2) - Potato

Potatoes are also one of the essential vegetables in Cantonese cuisine. Some of the most famous Cantonese dishes that use potatoes as the main ingredient are the Cantonese-style stir-fried potatoes and the Braised pork with potato. Fun fact, the official name of potato in Chinese (馬鈴薯 | mǎ líng shǔ) came from 馬鈴(mǎ líng), which is an ancient Chinese horse bell. On the other hand, the word 薯 (shǔ) means “yam.”

紅蘿蔔 (Hung4 Lo4 Baak6) – Carrots

紅蘿蔔 (Hung4 Lo4 Baak6) - Carrots

Carrots are considered one of the healthiest vegetables in Cantonese cuisine. In fact, they have this famous dish called Sweet corn carrot pork bone soup. It’s a soup that has lots of nutrients and tastes sweet. Carrots are also shredded and mixed with other ingredients to make dumplings and spring rolls.

青瓜 (Ceng1 Gwaa1) – Cucumber

青瓜 (Ceng1 Gwaa1) - Cucumber

We shouldn’t miss out on the Cantonese-style cucumber salad when we talked about cucumbers in Cantonese cuisine. Although this dish is more of a Chinese dish, Cantonese cuisine also has its influence. So, cucumber is still worthy of consideration as one of the Cantonese cuisine’s essential vegetables.

洋葱 (Joeng4 Cung1) – Onion

洋葱 (Joeng4 Cung1) - Onion

As mentioned in different blogs related to Cantonese food, stir-frying and steaming are among the most commonly used cooking methods in Cantonese cuisine. This is the reason why onions are one of the essential vegetables in Cantonese cuisine. Onions are usually aromatic and make the natural flavor of food come out. Today, it’s impossible to talk about Cantonese cuisine without mentioning onions and their different kinds.

大蒜 (Daai6 Syun3) – Garlic

大蒜 (Daai6 Syun3) - Garlic

Another essential ingredient in Cantonese cuisine is garlic. It is considered one of the universal ingredients. The majority of our green vegetables are stir-fried in oil with minced garlic and salt. Sometimes because it is a versatile ingredient, you don’t know what to do without them.

蘑菇 (Mo4 Gu1) – Mushrooms

蘑菇 (Mo4 Gu1) - Mushrooms

Another popular dish in Cantonese cuisine is Cantonese Chicken and Mushrooms. This is not the only dish where mushrooms are used as an ingredient. Mushrooms are also mostly mixed in fried rice and soups; that’s why it’s one of the must-learn vegetables in Cantonese.

生菜 (Saang1 Coi3) – Lettuce

生菜 (Saang1 Coi3) - Lettuce

Iceberg lettuce with oyster sauce, Stir-Fried Lettuce, Stir-Fried Garlic Lettuce, and Lettuce wraps are examples of how lettuce can do wonders in Cantonese cuisine. Lettuce is also one of the most commonly used leafy vegetables in Cantonese cuisine. It’s a healthy way to enjoy minced pork and other fillings.

西蘭花 (Sai1 Laan4 Faa1) – Broccoli

西蘭花 (Sai1 Laan4 Faa1) - Broccoli

The type of broccoli used in Cantonese dishes is mostly Chinese broccoli which has long green stems and dark, thick leaves. However, since regular broccoli is the most common one that can be easily found in the market, Cantonese chefs also use them for cooking broccoli dishes.


Other Vegetables In Cantonese

Now that you have learned the main vegetables in Cantonese let’s widen your vocabulary and learn these additional vegetables in Cantonese.

CantoneseJyutpingEnglish Translations
八角baat3 gok3anise
dau6 dau6*2beans; peas
芽菜ngaa4 coi3bean sprout
涼瓜loeng4 gwaa1bitter melon/ gourd
柿子椒ci5 zi2 ziu1bell pepper
烏豆wu1 dau2black beans
白菜baak6 coi3bok choy
西芹sai1 kan2celery
椰菜花je4 coi3 faa1cauliflower
韭菜gau2 coi3chives
粟米suk1 mai5corn
辣椒laat6 ziu1chili, pepper
矮瓜aai2 gwaa1eggplant
蘆筍lou4 seon2garden asparagus
芥菜gaai3 coi3leaf mustard
秋葵cau1 kwai4okra
橄欖gaam3 laam5*2olive
番茜faan1 sai1parsley
南瓜naam4 gwaa1pumpkin
蘿蔔lo4 baak6radish
蕃薯faan1 syu2sweet potato
蔥頭cung1 tau4shallot
壁球bik1 kau4squash
菠菜bo1 coi3spinach / Chinese spinach
蕃茄faan1 ke2tomato
西洋菜sai1 joeng4 coi3watercress
翠玉瓜ceoi3 juk6 gwaa1zucchini


Learning Cantonese In A Fun And Meaningful Way

Learning Cantonese is daunting at first, but what if I tell you that there’s a fun and meaningful way to learn it. For people whose native language is English and other languages from western countries, learning languages from East Asian countries like Japanese, Chinese, and Cantonese might be hard. But, with the right tool like Ling App and motivation, you’ll surely get what you have been dreaming about – to speak the Cantonese language.

With Ling App, say goodbye to books and long lessons because the app offers fun mini-games, audio recordings, translations, sample sentences, and images to support your learning. You can also learn through grammatical explanations and apply them through dialogues and chatbots. Surely, you don’t know what words to learn first or what basics you should develop first, but with Ling App, you can choose from different topics that are used in everyday life.

Learning Cantonese is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. If you want to connect meaningfully with the natives, there’s no better way than to learn more of their language, not just vegetables in Cantonese. So, grab your phone and start learning with Ling App now!

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