Cantonese Traditional Dishes Part 1

A number of dishes have been part of Cantonese cuisine since the earliest territorial establishments of Guangdong. While many of these are on the menus of typical Cantonese restaurants, some simpler ones are more commonly found in Chinese homes. Home-made Cantonese dishes are usually served with plain white rice.

Chinese steamed eggs

Chinese_steamed_eggs_by_Kanko

Chinese steamed eggs or water egg is a traditional Chinese dish found all over China. Eggs are beaten to a consistency similar to that used for an omelette and then steamed. It is sometimes referred to as egg custard on menus. If eaten cold, it has a taste and texture of a gelatin without sugar (unless added).

The eggs are beaten and water added to create a more tender texture. A good ratio of water to eggs is 1.5:1. Sesame oil, soy sauce, or chicken broth may be used to add additional flavor.

Other solid ingredients (such as mushrooms, clams, or crab meat) may also be added to the mixture. The egg mixture is poured into a dish, which is then placed in a steamer and steamed until fully cooked. The eggs should be steamed until just firm, so that the texture of the eggs is still smooth and silky. A plate is usually placed on top of the bowl containing the egg mixture and left on while the egg is being steamed. Uncapped steamed eggs will have water on top of the finished dish due to the steam.

Using four eggs, the average cooking time is 10 minutes with water, 7 minutes with chicken broth. However, this is in addition to the time needed for pre-boiling water.

 

Sweet and sour pork

gulurou

The original Cantonese sweet and sour pork (simplified Chinese: 咕噜肉; traditional Chinese: 咕嚕肉; pinyin: gūlūròu; Jyutping: gu1 lou1 juk6) is made with vinegar, preserved plums and hawthorn candy for an almost scarlet colour and sweet-sour taste. A related Hong Kong/Cantonese-based dish is sweet and sour spare-ribs (Chinese: 生炒排骨; pinyin: Shēng chǎo páigǔ English translation: stir-fried spare ribs) and it is identical in methods except spare-ribs are used in place of pork loins.

In China traditionally the sauces are made from mixing sugar or honey with a sour liquid such as rice vinegar, soy sauce, and spices such as ginger and cloves. Sometimes a paste made from tomatoes is used but this is rare and normally restricted to western cooking.

Cantonese sweet and sour sauce is the direct ancestor of sauce of the same name in the West, and originally developed for sweet and sour pork. The late renowned chef from Hong Kong, Leung King, included the following as his sweet and sour source sauce recipe: white rice vinegar, salt, Chinese brown candy, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and dark soy sauce. Hong Kong’s gourmet Willie Mak, himself a long time friend of Leung, suggests contemporary eateries not to resort to cheap bulk manufactured versions of vinegar, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce, or the sauce will risk being too sharp in taste and might break the balance of flavours. He suggests the more acidic white rice vinegar could be replaced with apple cider vinegar, and ketchup and Worcestershire sauce should be of renowned gourmet brand.

 

Wonton noodles

wonton-noodles-asian-wanton-meat-pork-shrimp-dumpl

Wonton noodles (Cantonese: Wàhn tān mihn, Mandarin: Yúntūn miàn), sometimes called wanton mee (“wanton” is a Cantonese word for dumpling while noodles in Hokkien is “mee” or in Cantonese, “min”) is a Cantonese noodle dish which is popular in Canton, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The dish is usually served in a hot broth, garnished with leafy vegetables, and wonton dumplings. The types of leafy vegetables used are usually kai-lan also known as Chinese kale. Another type of dumpling known as shui jiao is sometimes served in place of wonton. It contains prawns, chicken or pork, spring onions with some chefs adding mushroom and black fungus.

In Hong Kong and Canton, wonton noodles are usually served in steaming hot soup with shrimp wontons and garnished with leafy vegetables.[1] There are plenty of variations of this popular Cantonese dish, with different toppings and garnishes. For example, the soup and wontons in a separate bowl, the noodles being served relatively dry, with the toppings and garnishes, dressed with sauce, dipping the noodles in the soup to eat it.

There are four distinct features: First, the wontons are predominantly prawn, with small amounts of minced pork, or no pork at all. Second, aficionados will insist on fresh, smooth thin noodles which are al dente, free from the taste and odor which is characteristic in many egg noodles when cooked. Third, the bouillon is light brown (prepared from dried flounder) and is usually steaming hot. Lastly, garlic chives are used as a garnish. The first two give the dish a wet but crunchy or crispy mouthfeel. The last two give the dish a unique bouquet.

In order to ensure that the noodles are perfectly al dente and free from “noodley” taste, the cooking process and sequence must be meticulously adhered to. The wonton is cooked first, and then placed in the bowl. The noodles are blanched for only 10 seconds, after which they are rinsed under cold water and placed in the serving bowl. Piping hot bouillon is then scooped into the bowl, on top of the wonton noodles. The bouillon must be tasty, yet not so strong as to overpower the delicate taste of the wonton and the noodles which it is meant to accompany.

Although the “wonton noodle” is synonymous with wonton and noodles served in piping hot bouillon, the dish may also be served “dry”, as in lo mein (撈麵), where the wonton are placed on a large bed of noodles.

It is very important for people who do not know a lot about Chinese culture, that ”dumpling” is a very broad term. In different part of China, people cook dumpling in different ways and the name is quite different from one another, just like Wonton, which is a Cantonese word. Cantonese people would considered Wonton is totally different with dumpling, since dumpling is more popular and come from northern China.

 

Here is a short video if you want to know how to make traditional Hongkong/Cantonese Wonton.

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