Cantonese Cuisine
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Cantonese Cuisine

Map showing major regional cuisines of China

Cantonese cuisine or more accurately, Guangdong cuisine (Chinese: ), also known as Yue cuisine () refers to the cuisine of the Guangdong province of China (particularly the provincial capital, Guangzhou, and the surrounding regions in the Pearl River Delta, including Hong Kong and Macau).[1] "Cantonese" specifically refers to only Guangzhou or the language known as Cantonese associated with it, but people generally refer to "Cantonese cuisine" to all the cooking styles of the speakers of Yue Chinese languages from within Guangdong. The Teochew cuisine and Hakka cuisine of Guangdong are considered their own styles, as is neighboring Guangxi's cuisine [zh] despite also being considered culturally Cantonese. It is one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of Chinese cuisine. Its prominence outside China is due to the large number of Cantonese emigrants. Chefs trained in Cantonese cuisine are highly sought after throughout China.[2] Until recently, most Chinese restaurants in the West served largely Cantonese dishes.


Guangzhou (Canton) City, the provincial capital of Guangdong and the center of Cantonese culture, has long been a trading hub and many imported foods and ingredients are used in Cantonese cuisine. Besides pork, beef and chicken, Cantonese cuisine incorporates almost all edible meats, including offal, chicken feet, duck's tongue, frog legs, snakes and snails. However, lamb and goat are less commonly used than in the cuisines of northern or western China. Many cooking methods are used, with steaming and stir frying being the most favoured due to their convenience and rapidity. Other techniques include shallow frying, double steaming, braising and deep frying.

For many traditional Cantonese cooks, the flavours of a dish should be well balanced and not greasy. Apart from that, spices should be used in modest amounts to avoid overwhelming the flavours of the primary ingredients, and these ingredients in turn should be at the peak of their freshness and quality. There is no widespread use of fresh herbs in Cantonese cooking, in contrast with their liberal use in other cuisines such as Sichuanese, Vietnamese, Lao, Thai and European. Garlic chives and coriander leaves are notable exceptions, although the former are often used as a vegetable and the latter are usually used as mere garnish in most dishes.


Sauces and condiments

In Cantonese cuisine, a number of ingredients such as sugar, salt, soy sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, vinegar, scallion and sesame oil, suffice to enhance flavour, although garlic is heavily used in some dishes, especially those in which internal organs, such as entrails, may emit unpleasant odours. Ginger, chili peppers, five-spice powder, powdered black pepper, star anise and a few other spices are also used, but often sparingly.

English Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin
Black bean sauce syun3 jung4 dau6 si6 zoeng3 suànróng dòuch?jiàng
Char siu sauce caa1 siu1 zoeng3 ch?sh?ojiàng
Chu hau paste cyu5 hau4 zoeng3 zhùhóujiàng
Hoisin sauce hoi2 sin1 zoeng3 h?ixi?njiàng
Master stock lou5 seoi2 l?shu?
Oyster sauce hou4 jau4 háoyóu
Plum sauce syun1 mui4 zoeng3 s?méijiàng
Red vinegar zit3 cou3 zhècù
Shrimp paste haam4 haa1 zoeng3 xiánxi?jiàng
Sweet and sour sauce tong4 cou3 zoeng3 tángcùjiàng

Dried and preserved ingredients

Although Cantonese cooks pay much attention to the freshness of their primary ingredients, Cantonese cuisine also uses a long list of preserved food items to add flavour to a dish. This may be influenced by Hakka cuisine, since the Hakkas were once a dominant group occupying imperial Hong Kong and other southern territories.[3]

Some items gain very intense flavours during the drying/preservation/oxidation process and some foods are preserved to increase their shelf life. Some chefs combine both dried and fresh varieties of the same items in a dish. Dried items are usually soaked in water to rehydrate before cooking. These ingredients are generally not served a la carte, but rather with vegetables or other Cantonese dishes.

English Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin Notes
Century egg pei4 daan2 pídàn can be found served with roasted dishes, in congee with lean pork, and in a sweet pastry with lotus paste
Chinese sausage laap6 coeng2 làcháng Usually added to rice together with preserved-salted duck and pork.
Dried cabbage coi3 gon1 càig?n
Dried scallops gong1 jiu4 cyu5 ji?ngyáozhù Usually added to clear soup.
Dried shrimp haa1 gon1 xi?g?n Usually de-shelled, sliced into half and added to vegetable dishes.
Dried small shrimp haa1 mai5 xi?m? Usually mixed with stir-fried vegetables.
Fermented tofu fu6 jyu5 f?r?
Fermented black beans dau6 si6 dòuch? Usually added to pork and tofu dishes.
Pickled Chinese cabbage mui4 coi3 méicài Usually cooked with pork or stir-fried with rice.
Pickled diced radish coi3 pou2 càif?
Preserved-salted duck laap6 aap2 lày? Usually eaten with rice in a family meal.
Preserved-salted pork laap6 juk6 làròu Usually eaten with rice in a family meal.
Salted duck egg haam4 daan2 xiándàn May be eaten as it is or mixed with stir-fried vegetables and steam dishes or cooked with diced pork in congee.
Salted fish haam4 jyu2 xiányú Usually paired with steamed pork or added to fried rice together with diced chicken.
Suan cai haam4 syun1 coi3 xiánsu?ncài
Tofu skin fu6 pei4 f?pí Usually used as wrapping for ground pork dishes. It is fried in a similar manner as spring rolls.

Traditional dishes

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 Cantonese homes. Home-made Cantonese dishes are usually served with plain white rice.

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin
Cantonese style fried rice Cuisine of China 0055.JPG ? ? gwong2 sik1 cau2 faan6 Gu?ng shì ch?ofàn
Choy sum in oyster sauce Taste of Beijing, Soho, London (4363228093).jpg ? ? hou4 jau4 coi3 sam1 háoyóu càix?n
Congee with lean pork and century egg Pork preserved duck egg congee.jpg pei4 daan2 sau3 juk6 zuk1 pídàn shòuròuzh?u
Steamed egg Chinese steamed eggs (cropped).jpg zing1 seoi2 daan2 zh?ngshu?dàn
Steamed frog legs on lotus leaf ho4 jip6 zing1 tin4 gai1 héyè zh?ng tiánj?
Steamed ground pork with salted duck egg HK Food ? Tung Kee  Meat Cake.JPG haam4 daan2 zing1 juk6 beng2 xiándàn zh?ng ròub?ng
Steamed spare ribs with fermented black beans and chilli pepper Dimsumpaigui.jpg ? si6 ziu1 paai4 gwat1 ch?ji?o páig?
Stewed beef brisket HK Food Brisket Noodle 1.JPG ? cyu5 hau4 ngau4 naam4 zhùhóu niú n?n
Stir-fried hairy gourd with dried shrimp and cellophane noodles daai6 ji4 maa1 gaa3 neoi5 dàyím? jiàn?
Stir-fried water spinach with shredded chilli and fermented tofu Rau mu?ng xào t?i.jpg ziu1 si1 fu6 jyu5 tung1 coi3 ji?os? f?r? t?ngcài
Sweet and sour pork Cuisine of China 0068.JPG gu1 lou1 juk6 g?l?ròu

Deep fried dishes

There are a small number of deep-fried dishes in Cantonese cuisine, which can often be found as street food. They have been extensively documented in colonial Hong Kong records of the 19th and 20th centuries. A few are synonymous with Cantonese breakfast and lunch,[4] even though these are also part of other cuisines.

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin
Dace fish balls HK food   Dacefish meat balls Nov-2013  Kau Kee Restaurant.JPG leng4 jyu4 kau4 língyúqiú
Chinese Donut Chinese fried bread.jpg jau4 zaa3 gwai2 yóuzhágu?
Zaa Leung Zhaliang.jpg zaa3 loeng5 zháli?ng


Old fire soup, or lou fo tong (; ; l?ohu? t?ng; lou5 fo2 tong; 'old fire-cooked soup'), is a clear broth prepared by simmering meat and other ingredients over a low heat for several hours. Chinese herbs are often used as ingredients. There are basically two ways to make old fire soup - put ingredients and water in the pot and heat it directly on fire, which is called bou tong (; ; b?o t?ng; bou1 tong1); or put the ingredients in a small stew pot, and put it in a bigger pot filled with water, then heat the bigger pot on fire directly, which is called dun tong (; ; dùn t?ng; dun6 tong1). The latter way can keep the most original taste of the soup.

Soup chain stores or delivery outlets in cities with significant Cantonese populations, such as Hong Kong, serve this dish due to the long preparation time required of slow-simmered soup.

English Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin
Cantonese seafood soup hoi2 wong4 gang1 h?ihuáng g?ng
Night-blooming cereus soup baa3 wong4 faa1 bou1 tong1 bàwánghu? b?ot?ng
Snow fungus soup ngan4 ji5 tong1 yín'?r t?ng
Spare ribs soup with watercress and apricot kernels naam4 bak1 hang6 sai1 joeng4 coi3 zyu1 gwat1 tong1 nánb?ixìng x?yángcài zh?g? t?ng
Winter melon soup dung1 gwaa1 tong1 d?nggu? t?ng


Seafood tanks in a Cantonese restaurant

Due to Guangdong's location along the South China Sea coast, fresh seafood is prominent in Cantonese cuisine, and many Cantonese restaurants keep aquariums or seafood tanks on the premises. In Cantonese cuisine, as in cuisines from other parts of Asia, if seafood has a repugnant odour, strong spices and marinating juices are added; the freshest seafood is odourless and, in Cantonese culinary arts, is best cooked by steaming. For instance, in some recipes, only a small amount of soy sauce, ginger and spring onion is added to steamed fish. In Cantonese cuisine, the light seasoning is used only to bring out the natural sweetness of the seafood. As a rule of thumb, the spiciness of a dish is usually inversely proportionate to the freshness of the ingredients.

English Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin
Lobster with ginger and scallions ? ? goeng1 cung1 lung4 haa1 ji?ngc?ng lóngxi?
Mantis shrimp laai6 niu6 haa1 làniàoxi?
Steamed fish zing1 yu4 zh?ngyú
Steamed scallops with ginger and garlic syun3 jung4 zing1 sin3 bui3 suànróng zh?ng shànbèi
White boiled shrimp baak6 zoek3 haa1 báizhuóxi?

Noodle dishes

Noodles are served either in soup broth or fried. These are available as home-cooked meals, on dim sum side menus, or as street food at dai pai dongs, where they can be served with a variety of toppings such as fish balls, beef balls, or fish slices.

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin Notes
Beef brisket noodles ngau4 laam5 min6 niú n?n miàn May be served dry or in soup.
Beef chow fun Beefchowfoon.jpg ? ? gon1 caau2 ngau4 ho2 g?n ch?o niú hé
Chow mein Chow mein 1 by yuen.jpg caau2 min6 ch?o miàn A generic term for various stir-fried noodle dishes. Hong Kong-style chow mein is made from pan-fried thin crispy noodles.
Jook-sing noodles zuk1 sing1 min6 zhúsh?ngmiàn Bamboo log pressed noodles.
Lo mein Real lo mein.jpg lou1 min6 l?o miàn
Rice noodle roll Cha siu choeng.jpg coeng2 fan2 chángf?n Also known as chee cheong fun.
Rice noodles Rice noodles (4681330292).jpg ho4 fun2 héf?n Also known as hor-fun.
Silver needle noodles Fried-Lao-Shu-Fen Fried-Lou-Syu-Fan Fried-Short-Rice-Noodles.jpg ngan4 zam1 fun2 yín zh?n f?n Also known as rat noodles (; l?osh? f?n; lou5 syu2 fan2).
Yi mein Lobster with E-Fu Noodle.jpg lung4 haa1 ji1 min6 y? miàn Also known as e-fu noodles.
Wonton noodles HK Sai Ying Pun Centre Street  Wonton noodle July-2012.JPG wan4 tan1 min6 yúnt?n miàn Sometimes spelled as wanton noodles.

Siu mei

A roasted pig and char siu

Siu mei (; ; sh?o wèi; siu1 mei6) is essentially the Chinese rotisserie style of cooking. Unlike most other Cantonese dishes, siu mei solely consists of meat, with no vegetables.

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin
Char siu HK Mongkok Maxims BBQ Meat Rice Lunch with Green vegetable.JPG caa1 siu1 ch?sh?o
Roast duck Roast-Duck-Crispy-Pork-Rice-2009.jpg siu1 aap3 sh?oy?
Roast goose Roastedgoose.jpg siu1 ngo4 sh?o'é
Roast pig Hong Kong style roast pig (3946366822).jpg siu1 yuk1 sh?oròu
Roast pigeon Fried pigeon.jpeg siu1 jyu5 gap3 sh?or?g?

Lou mei

Lou mei (; ; l? wèi; lou5 mei6) is the name given to dishes made from internal organs, entrails and other left-over parts of animals. It is widely available in southern Chinese regions.

English Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin
Beef entrails ngau4 zaap6 niú zá
Beef brisket ngau4 laam5 niú n?n
Chicken scraps gai1 zaap6 j? zá
Duck gizzard aap3 san6 y? shèn
Pig's tongue zyu1 lei6 zh? lì

Siu laap

Cantonese siu mei food stall in Hong Kong

All Cantonese-style cooked meats, including siu mei, lou mei and preserved meat can be classified as siu laap (; ; sh?o là; siu1 laap6). Siu laap also includes dishes such as:

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin Notes
Chicken in soy sauce Soy Sauce Chicken.jpg si6 jau4 gai1 ch? yóu j?
Orange cuttlefish Orangesquid.jpg ? ? lou5 seoi2 mak6 jyu4 l?shu? mòyú
Poached duck in master stock lou5 seoi2 aap3 l? shu? y?
White cut chicken BeiQieJi-WhiteCutChicken.jpg baak6 cit3 gai1 bái qiè j? Also known as white chopped chicken (; ; báizh?nj?; baak6 zaam2 gai1) in some places.

A typical dish may consist of offal and half an order of multiple varieties of roasted meat. The majority of siu laap is white meat.

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin
Rice with Chinese sausage and char siu Roast-Duck-Crispy-Pork-Rice-2009.jpg laap6 ceung4 caa1 siu1 faan6 làcháng ch?sh?o fàn
Rice with roast goose and goose intestines siu1 ngo4 ngo4 coeng4 faan6 sh?o é é cháng fàn
Siu mei platter ? ? siu1 mei6 ping6 poon4 sh?owèi p?npán
Siu lap platter
Siu lap platter.jpg
? ? siu1 laap6 ping6 pun4 sh?olà p?npán

Little pot rice

Little pot chicken rice with vegetable and Chinese sausage

Little pot rice (; ; b?oz?ifàn; bou1 zai2 faan6) are dishes cooked and served in a flat-bottomed pot (as opposed to a round-bottomed wok). Usually this is a saucepan or braising pan (see clay pot cooking). Such dishes are cooked by covering and steaming, making the rice and ingredients very hot and soft. Usually the ingredients are layered on top of the rice with little or no mixing in between. Many standard combinations exist.

English Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin
Rice with Chinese sausage and preserved meat laap6 coeng2 bou1 zai2 faan6 làwèi b?oz?ifàn
Rice with layered egg and beef wo1 daan2 ngaw4 juk6 faan6 w?dàn niúròu fàn
Rice with minced beef patty juk6 beng2 bou1 zai2 faan6 ròub?ng b?oz?ifàn
Rice with spare ribs paai4 gwat1 bou1 zai2 faan6 páig? b?oz?ifàn
Rice with steamed chicken zing1 gai1 juk6 bou1 zai2 faan6 zh?ng j?ròu b?oz?ifàn

Banquet/dinner dishes

A number of dishes are traditionally served in Cantonese restaurants only at dinner time. Dim sum restaurants stop serving bamboo-basket dishes after the yum cha period (equivalent to afternoon tea) and begin offering an entirely different menu in the evening. Some dishes are standard while others are regional. Some are customised for special purposes such as Chinese marriages or banquets. Salt and pepper dishes are one of the few spicy dishes.

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin
Crispy fried chicken Crispyfriedchicken.jpg zaa3 zi2 gai1 zhá z? j?
Duck with taro can4 pei4 wu6 tau4 aap3 chén pí yùtóu y?
Fried tofu with shrimp CantoneseTofuwithShrimp.jpg haa1 joeng4 caau2 dau4 fu6 xi?rén ch?o dòuf?
Roast pigeon Chinese squab.jpg jyu5 gap3 r? g?
Roast suckling pig Shaoruzhu.jpg siu1 jyu5 zyu1 sh?o r? zh?
Seafood with bird's nest Seafoodbirdsnest.jpg ? ? hoi2 sin1 zoek3 caau4 h?ixi?n quècháo
Shrimp with salt and pepper Pepper salt prawns.jpeg ziu1 jim4 haa1 ji?o yán xi?
Sour spare ribs Spare ribs with Chinese barbecue sauce cropped.jpg ? ? saang1 cau2 paai4 gwat1 sh?ng ch?o páig?
Spare ribs with salt and pepper  .jpg ziu1 jim4 paai4 gwat1 ji?o yán g?
Squid with salt and pepper Fried baby squid.jpg ? ? ziu1 jim4 jau4 jyu2 ji?o yán yóuyú
Yangzhou fried rice Yeung Chow Fried Rice.jpg ? ? Joeng4 zau1 cau2 faan6 Yángzh?u ch?ofàn


After the evening meal, most Cantonese restaurants offer tong sui (; táng shu?; tong4 seoi2; 'sugar water'), a sweet soup. Many varieties of tong sui are also found in other Chinese cuisines. Some desserts are traditional, while others are recent innovations. The more expensive restaurants usually offer their specialty desserts. Sugar water is the general name of dessert in Guangdong province. It is cooked by adding water and sugar to some other cooking ingredients. It is said that Huazhou sugar water is the famous and popular one in Guangdong. There is a saying that Chinese sugar water is in Guangdong, and Cantonese sugar water in Huazhou. And the booming of Huazhou sugar water stores prove it.[]

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin
Black sesame soup BlacksesameSoup.jpg zi1 maa4 wu4 zh?mahú
Coconut bar Coconutbar.jpg je4 zap1 gou1 y?zh?g?o
Double skin milk Shuangpi Nai.jpeg soeng1 pei4 naai5 shu?ngpín?i
Mung bean soup MungBeanJelly.jpg luk6 dau6 saa1 l?dòush?
Red bean soup CantoneseHybridRedbeansoup.jpg hong4 dau6 saa1 hóngdòush?
Sai mai lo Tapioca pudding-2.jpg sai1 mei5 low6 x?m?lù
Shaved ice Bing guan cau mei.jpg paau4 bing1 b?ob?ng
Steamed egg custard dan6 daan6 dùndàn
Steamed milk custard dan6 naai5 dùnn?i
Sweet Chinese pastry HK Sheung Wan  Shun Tak Centre ? shop  Saint Honore Cake Shop evening April-2012 Ip4.jpg gou1 dim2 g?odi?n
Sweet potato soup SweetpotatoTongsui.jpg ? faan1 syu4 tong4 seoi2 f?nsh? tángshu?
Tofu flower pudding David enjoying Dòuhu?.jpg dau6 fu6 faa1 dòuf?hu?
Turtle shell with smilax pudding Guilinggao.jpg gwai1 ling4 gou1 gu?língg?o


Certain Cantonese delicacies consist of parts taken from rare or endangered animals, which raises controversy over animal rights and environmental issues. This is often[according to whom?] due to alleged health benefits of certain animal products. For example, the continued spreading of the idea that shark cartilage can cure cancer has led to decreased shark populations even though scientific research has found no evidence to support the credibility of shark cartilage as a cancer cure.[5]

English Image Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Jyutping Pinyin
Bird's nest soup Bird's-nest-soup-Miri-Malaysia.jpg jin1 wo1 yànw?
Braised abalone Chineseabalonecuisine.jpg mun6 baau1 jyu4 mèn bàoyú
Jellyfish CantoneseJellyfish.jpg hoi2 zit3 h?izhé
Sea cucumber Seacucumbercuisine.jpg hoi2 saam1 h?ish?n
Shark fin soup Chinese cuisine-Shark fin soup-04.jpg jyu4 ci3 tong1 yúchì t?ng

See also


  1. ^ Hsiung, Deh-Ta. Simonds, Nina. Lowe, Jason. [2005] (2005). The food of China: a journey for food lovers. Bay Books. ISBN 978-0-681-02584-4. p17.
  2. ^ Civitello, Linda (2011-03-23). Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People. p. 281. ISBN 9781118098752.
  3. ^ Barber, Nicola. [2004] (2004) Hong Kong. Gareth Stevens Publishing. ISBN 0-8368-5198-6
  4. ^ Wordie, Jason (2002). Streets: Exploring Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 962-209-563-1.
  5. ^ Wolfe, Marilyn J.; Wolf, Jeffrey C.; Cheng, Keith C.; Ostrander, Gary K. (1 December 2004). "Shark Cartilage, Cancer and the Growing Threat of Pseudoscience". Cancer Research. 64 (23): 8485-8491. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-04-2260. PMID 15574750 – via

Further reading

  • Eight Immortal Flavors: Secrets of Cantonese Cookery from San Francisco's Chinatown, Johnny Kan and Charles L. Leong. Berkeley, California: Howell-North Books, 1963

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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