Cantonese foods, which originate in Guangzhou province, are one of eight branches of the broad Chinese cuisine. Due to the huge number of immigrants from Guangdong to America, Cantonese recipes have become widely available in Chinese households and abroad.
The locals endeavor to incorporate almost every edible food in the world into their cuisines, such as chicken feet, duck’s tongue, snakes, or even snails. Seasoning by using sauces is also a great way to characterize and bring out the natural flavor of the dish.
With the diversity and creativity of Cantonese cuisine, it will take a long time to be familiarized with their signature dishes. But don’t worry, this article is here to help! So let’s take a look at my intriguing list for your upcoming lavish Cantonese feast.
Table of Contents
Let’s Start With The Most Delectable Cantonese Appetizers
During family reunions, appetizers are a tactic to keep people busy while waiting for the main dishes. Here are some Cantonese appetizer options that you should check out:
1. Char Siu – Chinese BBQ Pork
Char Siu is a Chinese-based cooking idea made from boneless pork. The pork is placed on skewers or forks over low heat and covered in a sweet and savory glazy. This tender and juicy meat has become a well-loved symbol of Cantonese cuisine that every generation could hardly resist.
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Char Siu made its appearance in the royal recipe books from the Zhou dynasty over 3000 years ago when the menus featured a ton of grill or barbeque recipes. This dish quickly gained the crowd’s love and continued its popularity until this very day.
Char Siu represents the food culture itself, whether from a classy restaurant or merely a food stall in a wet market. It’s also a perfect addition to rice or noodles.
Try out this Char Siu recipe to become a top-notch food expert.
2. Chun Juan – Cantonese Spring Rolls
Each region has its version of spring rolls, but the Cantonese style is probably the most well-known. Wrapped in various ingredients and deep-fried to golden perfection, this dish is undoubtedly a hit with your guests.
This classic can be served as a daily appetizer, but it’s a serious charm to break the ice at family gatherings during the Chinese New Year.
The locals believe that the process of preparing Chun Juan symbolizes happiness and good fortune, which are desirable wishes for their family.
If you’re a vegetarian, feel free to change the meat into mushroom and veggie. Plus, an American invention, egg rolls, has revolutionized the original spring rolls. You can find these thick and crispy rolls in many overseas Chinese restaurants.
3. Cheung Fan – Steamed Rice Noodles Rolls
Cheung Fan will be my first option when it comes to a full-filling and delicious breakfast. Plus, if you have a chance to visit Malaysia, you can easily find this food on Malaysian streets. FYI, the term “Cheung Fan” means “pig intestine noodle roll”. However, there isn’t any offal in the dish.
Despite the various sub-versions with similar cooking methods in Guangdong province, the flour mixtures and sauces are pretty different. Sweet soy sauce and sesame sauce are the two primary choices to make the dish become a real killer.
It’s not hard to make this Cantonese breakfast recipe at home, but recreating the thickness and flavor of store-bought Cheung Fan might be a challenge. However, if you have enough equipment and skills, the homemade version is definitely a win.
4. Cha Siu Bao – Roasted Pork Buns
You cannot go to a Dim Sum restaurant and leave without trying these super fluffy buns. Cha Siu Bao is an essential Dim Sum item in Cantonese culture, and every Cantonese has eaten or encountered this dish since they were a kid.
There are two distinctive kinds of Cha Siu Bao. The steamed one with a white bun is Chashao Bao, while the brown baked one is Chashao Can Bao. The dish may look simple, but getting it right requires techniques and patience.
Cha Siu Bao is also a great way to use up leftover roast pork. Then, what are you waiting for? Order some Cha Siu Bao and enjoy tea time with your family right now!
Check this out if you want to learn more about the iconic Cha Siu Bao!
5. Lo Mai Gai – Sticky Rice In Lotus Leaf Wraps
Lo Mai Gai is a tasty Dim Sum in Southern China, which is usually served as a yummy Chinese starter. It used to come in a bowl, but lotus leaves have become a more convenient to-go option. The dish contained steamed glutinous rice and chicken wrapped in a dried lotus leaf.
In Chinese culture, the lotus is a symbol of purity. This comes from the saying “to grow out of the mud unsullied”, referring to the lotus still growing beautifully despite the dirty soil. Lo Mai Gai is a wonderful daily appetizer and a must-have food item for New Year’s Eve.
6. Dim Sum
Speaking of traditional Hong Kong dishes, Dim Sum is the first thing that comes to my mind. Dim Sum (or Dimsam in Cantonese Yale) is a traditional meal with an extensive range of small plates of bite-sized portions of Chinese dishes.
The origin of most modern Dim Sum dishes is from China and is associated with Cantonese cuisine. The most popular myth about Dim Sum is that it was created centuries ago by Royal chefs to “touch the heart” of Chinese emperors.
There are a variety of Dim Sum dishes that can be separated into categories ranging from regular items to travel-friendly.
If you like to explore more Dim Sum varieties, don’t skip this!
7. Xiao Long Bao – Soup Dumplings
During the Daoguang Emperor’s reign from 1820 to 1850, Xiao Long Bao made its first appearance in Wan Hua Tea House in Changzhou, Jiangsu province. Nowadays, it is a well-liked dish in Taiwan, let alone China.
These soup-filled dumplings are the pinnacle of steaming perfection. They’re as flavorful as a typical dumpling, but it is extra juicy and delicious, thanks to the hot soup.
Xiao Long Bao is traditionally served during breakfast and Cantonese tea time. The locals love to enjoy these dumplings with a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and sliced ginger.
8. Lo Bak Go – Turnip Cakes
Turnip cakes, or radish cakes, is another typical Dim Sum dish that you must try at least once. Lo Bak Go is often made with daikon turnips and rice flour, although some places include minced meat or fish in their recipe.
Lo Bak Go is quite bland on its own, but it will taste amazing with hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and chili flakes. Crispy outside with a soft inside, these turnip cakes will surely make your mouth water.
The Chinese term for “radish” is a homophone for “good luck”. Therefore, this popular Dim Sum dish is usually eaten during the Chinese New Year.
These Breathtaking Cantonese Main Dishes Will Brighten Your Day
After several impressive appetizers, it’s time for the main course! The main dishes are usually the heaviest and most complex meals on the menu. Read on and learn what they are!
9. Yun Tun Mian – Wonton Noodles
Yun Tun Mian is a delicious noodle dish of Cantonese origin. It’s such a basic bowl of noodles that can be found almost everywhere, especially as iconic street food in Hong Kong at a very affordable price.
If you don’t stay near a Chinatown or Cantonese place, it’s super easy to make, so feel free to give it a try at home. But there are a few things about Yun Tun Mian that you should know before making it.
First, the wontons are mostly prawn-based (70% shrimp and 30% pork). Second, the noodles must be thin, smooth, and al dente. Third, the broth has to be hot. Finally, don’t forget garlic chives!
And when you serve it, remember to place the spoon at the bottom with the wontons above it. The noodles should also be on top since soaking them for too long will make them become overcooked.
People usually consider crafting a bowl of Yun Tun Mian as an art form. The wonton wrappers and noodles are usually fresh. However, you can opt for store-bought egg noodles and serve in a hot broth for a homemade version.
Recreate the Cantonese style wonton noodles soup at home with this recipe.
10. Bao Zai Fan – Claypot Rice
Although Bao Zai Fan is one of the go-to dishes during the freezing cold days, this Cantonese lunch recipe might be time-consuming to make.
Customers usually wait for about 15-30 minutes for this dish, even at the finest restaurant. But in the end, it will all be worth it!
Lap Cheong sausage, chicken, and shiitake mushrooms are some main ingredients to flavor the rice, but sometimes restaurants customize the dish with salted fish, goose-liver sausage.
This one-pot meal used to be cooked over charcoal to give it a smoky aroma and flavor. But nowadays, Cantonese cooks use a stove to sear the pot, resulting in the signature crispy golden layer of rice at the bottom.
11. Gan Chao Niu He – Stir Fry Beef Noodle/ Beef Chow Fun
Gan Chao Niu He is a quick and easy Cantonese stir-fry recipe that originated in the town of Shahe in Guangzhou. This dish has eliminated the belief that all the stir fry dishes have to be full of colors since Gan Chao Niu He is all brown yet still eye-catching and irresistible.
This dish completely stole the heart of many foodie fans. The proper way to make this dish is using a wok, which might not be practical for every home cook. Therefore, I recommend you to get it from any restaurant or street food stall in Chinatown.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on Gan Chao Niu He to amaze your guests.
12. Shark Fin Soup
The origin of shark fin soup traced back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279), when it embodied the hospitality and prosperity of the imperial family. Since then, its popularity has increased and become one of the most sought-after dishes worldwide.
In Chinese culture, shark fins are believed to prevent heart disease, rejuvenate the skin, and nourish the body’s vitamins. However, nowadays, the cooks have to substitute real shark fins with artificial ones to avoid environmental damage.
This dish might sound unusual, but give it a try to complete your Cantonese cuisine journey. You won’t regret it!
13. Cantonese Steamed Fish
Since the climate of Guangdong can be blistering hot, steaming is the most common way to minimize some rich spices.
Also, the fish tanks in Chinese restaurants are not just for decoration! This Cantonese meal calls for fresh, high-quality, and alive fish since ignoring the freshness of the dish would be the highest culinary sin.
If you want to make this Cantonese dinner recipe at home, remember to use dried mandarin orange peels to purify the fishy aroma. This dish tastes best with a bowl of hot rice, similar to almost every Asian meal.
If you want to impress your guests with fresh Cantonese steamed fish, follow this easy recipe!
14. Tang Cu Pai Gu – Sweet and Sour Ribs
In Asian cuisine, a typical family usually consists of many savory dishes served alongside a bowl of steaming rice. And Tang Cu Pai Gu is one of them!
Tang Cu Pai Gu, also known as sweet and sour spare ribs, is a famous Cantonese meal and a well-known sweet and sour chicken variant. The locals utilize preserved plums, vinegar, and hawthorn candy to give the ribs their signature sweet and sour flavor.
Overall, this recipe is truly a crowd-pleaser. These yummy ribs can satisfy the pickiest children in China and worldwide.
15. Lanzhou Lamian – Lanzhou Hand-pulled Noodles
The way Lanzhou Lamian is made is truly mesmerizing. It is formed by stretching and folding the dough into strands while relying on its weight. The number of times the dough is folded determines the thickness and length of the strands.
These exquisite, delicate hand-pulled noodles are one-of-a-kind. Every strand is fresh, silky, and flavorful, totally different from the store-bought noodles in the supermarket.
Small restaurants selling Lanzhou-style noodles may be found all across Western and Eastern China, where it has been a staple diet for generations.
Congee, also known as Conjee, is a rice porridge famous in Asian nations. People usually have it with side dishes like meat, fish, scallions, pickled veggies, and century eggs. Congee has many different names and ways to make it depending on the regions.
This dish is the archetypal example of Cantonese homestyle food or Singapore-based cuisine. It is warm, comforting, and easy to eat; that is why it is the go-to meal for those who are unwell.
Congee is also a standard meal for breakfast. Imagine waking up to a steaming bowl of rice porridge; how perfect is that!
Finish Your Meal With Some Stunning Cantonese Dessert
I bet you will think of something like cakes or ice cream when it comes to dessert. However, in Cantonese cuisine, you’ll be blessed with warm soup (a common dessert type in Asia) or sweet custard. So jot down these heartwarming dishes to satisfy your sweet craving.
17. Hong Dou Tang – Red Bean Soup
Have you ever been crammed after a lavish dinner at a Chinese banquet? Don’t worry, this Cantonese dessert – a light sweet red bean soup will help you out of the food coma. It is categorized as a Tang Shui, which literally translates as sugary water.
Not only does it taste delicious, but this popular dessert also conserves several interesting superstitious values. People believe it can ward off negative energy and evoke happiness.
Red bean soup is usually served hot during the winter, but you can still have it in the summer to wrap up your meal.
Different toppings, including tapioca, ice cream, glutinous rice balls, and others, can be added to make this sweet treat more inviting. The choice of toppings depends on the location.
Take a look at this tutorial and strengthen your health through this sweetened medicine.
18. Doufu Hua – Tofu Pudding
Have you ever heard that tofu can grant immortality? Well, it doesn’t, unfortunately. However, that was the original purpose of tofu.
Most people believe that Han Dynasty Prince Lin (179–122 BC) was the one who created the first tofu. According to some versions of this story, the prince made the meal as an attempt to create an immortality elixir.
He utilized soybean and created a tasty snack called “tofu brains” during that time. Even though eternal life was solely a myth, tofu is highly beneficial to human health. It can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
In Cantonese cuisine, Doufu Hua is served with a gingery sauce or clear syrup to help people cool down in the sweltering heat. In the winter, people use hot sweet water and beans to turn it into a warm comforting treat. Doufu Hua is also eaten as part of yum cha.
19. Zi Ma Wu – Black Sesame Soup
Zi Ma Wu is one of the tastiest Cantonese desserts and Chinese sweet food in general that you can put on your bucket list. Made from black sesame seeds, water, white or glutinous rice, this deep charcoal dessert has an incredible aroma and a healthy function.
You can easily make it at home or buy it in several Chinese restaurants. The most convenient way to make black sesame soup at home is by purchasing soup powder in Asian markets. Just add hot water, stir, and this traditional dessert will appear before your very eyes.
20. Daan Tat – Cantonese Egg Tart
Daan Tat is the perfect end to your meal that Hong Kong gives you. This Cantonese version was derived from Portugal when Macau was colonized. Due to the short transport period to Hong Kong, the locals had modified and served them along with other Cantonese Dim Sum.
In contrast to the original version, Cantonese tart crust is beautifully layered and super thin. The crumbly shell combined with the smooth, creamy filling will hit all the aspects of your senses. You can easily find these in Dim Sum restaurants or any Chinese bakery.
If you can’t tell which egg tart will fit your sweet craving, check this out for a better comparison.
21. Fan Su Geung Tong Sui – Sweet Potato Ginger Sweet Soup
Cantonese chefs are fortunate to live in an area with abundant rainfall and a sub-tropical climate, so they have a rich range of fresh vegetables and fruits for making desserts. Sweet potato can be considered one of the most suitable crops in this kind of climate.
You don’t need fancy ingredients for this dessert; you just need a sweet potato, ginger, brown sugar, and water. Throw everything in boiling water, and it will be done after simmering for 15 minutes. Remember to adjust the amount of sugar to your taste.
Go For Cantonese Cuisine To Feast Your Belly
As you can see, Cantonese cuisine has made a massive international impact. Varying from the types of ingredients, flavors to traditions and cooking methods, I hope that some of these Cantonese food ideas somehow awaken your appetite.
Do any of the options above match your preference? Then don’t hesitate to book a ticket immediately to explore this delicious and alluring food culture.
If you have any questions, please tell me in the comment section. I’d love to hear your opinion about the post as well. Also, remember to like this article and send it to your loved ones and travel buddies. Maybe you inspire them to travel with you!