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Exploring Traditional Cantonese Cuisine

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The Guangdong province in Southern China is home to a style of cuisine known as Cantonese. Western Chinese restaurants often serve a number of Cantonese dishes, but some of them have been altered to appeal to Western palates. Traditional Cantonese dishes are worth seeking out for their use of fresh ingredients and non-greasy cooking style, which often involves steaming or stir-frying. Here's an overview of the staple ingredients and a few traditional dishes associated with Cantonese cuisine.

Staple Ingredients

Herbs and spices are used in moderation in Cantonese cooking in order to prevent the flavours of the main ingredients being lost. The following foods are commonly used in Cantonese dishes:

  • Spring onion
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice wine
  • Sesame oil
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Oyster sauce
  • Shrimp paste

4 Traditional Cantonese Dishes                

These Cantonese dishes definitely trump good old chicken curry:

Beef Brisket With Daikon

This slow cooked beef dish is flavoured with star anise, ginger and a soybean paste, which has a slightly sweet, caramelised flavour. The beef is cooked in a broth for several hours until tender and served with daikon radish and rice or rice noodle. Daikon radish, which looks like a white carrot, has a slightly peppery taste that's not unlike turnip. This dish is ideal for cold evenings.

Sesame Jellyfish Salad

This dish consists of blanched and shredded jellyfish that's marinated in sesame oil, soy sauce and white rice vinegar. The marinated jellyfish is then tossed with sliced cucumber, spring onion and toasted sesame seeds. This crunchy, slightly chewy dish is a real treat and makes a delicious light lunch or starter.

Shrimp Yi Mein

Yi mein is a type of noodle that's made with wheat flour and soda water, so it's slightly spongy and chewy. This dish uses boiled noodles that are added to the pan at the end of cooking and lightly stir-fried. The shrimp are cooked in a sesame oil, chicken stock and oyster sauce gravy that's flavoured with ginger, rice wine and garlic. This hearty dish is full of flavour and a good option if you're feeling really hungry.

Red Bean Soup

This is a popular dessert made with sugar water and aduki beans, which are commonly used in desserts across China. Tangerine peels are sometimes added to give the dessert a citrusy flavour and it can also be thickened with coconut milk or glutinous rice balls. This sweet soup can be served hot or cold and pairs well with black tea.

Cantonese cuisine is packed with flavour and worth exploring, so look out for these traditional Cantonese dishes the next time you visit a Chinese restaurant like Sun Wah Restaurant & Function Centre.