Chinese Cuisine

Hong Kong Dim Sum Oldies

The following are several popular dim sum items in the sixties. Now they are found only in few restaurants in Hong Kong.

Gold Coin Chicken – Skewed chicken liver, char siu and pork fat.

Duck Feet Wrap – Deboned Duck Feet, duck liver and duck meat wrapped with goose gut.

Quail Egg Siu Mai

Fresh Chinese Wild Yam Chicken Wrap

Thousand Layers Cake

Posted on 2009/12/31

Modern Hong Kong Dim Sum

Abalone and Chicken Tart

Sea Cucumber Dumpling

Roast Duck and Pineapple Bun

Chun Kong Pork Jelly

Crispy Water Chestnut Cake

Posted on 2009/12/28

Chinese State Dinner

In November, Chairman Hu of the Chinese Government hosted a welcoming dinner for US President Barack Obama at The Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The following is the menu of the dinner:

Assorted Small Plate Cold Dishes

Ground Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Beef Steak Chinese Style

Grilled Red Star Garoupa

Stir-fried White Asparagus


Dim Sum

Fruit Ice Cream

The following are samples of dishes prepared by the chefs at The Great Hall of the People for other events:

Cold Dish


Main Course


Posted on 2009/11/25

Hong Kong Modern Chinese Dishes

Posted on 2009/11/24

Modern Dessert of Confucius Home Dishes

Chinese Writing Instrument Set

The pen is pastry with red bean paste. The ink is sweet black sesame soup. The ink stick is black sesame cake. The pen, the ink and the ink stick are edible. You can dip the pen into the ink and then eat them together – a truly amazing culinary experience.

The dessert is offered by a restaurant in Hong Kong featuring the modern versions of the home dishes of Confucius.

Cantonese Cuisine

One Cantonese saying goes that anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies is edible. Another says that the only four-legged things that Cantonese people won’t eat are tables and chairs.

Guangdong Province in South China, with its mild, subtropical climate, grows an abundance of foods all year, including rice, fruit and vegetables. And plentiful feed for livestock means high-quality meat and poultry is in abundance.

As a result, Cantonese chefs take pride in their cooking. They use fresh ingredients every day to retain the unique flavour and texture of each dish. No wonder that for centuries local residents have been noted for their sophisticated cuisine, and their keen interest in food. Because their food is of such superlative quality, local people consider themselves connoisseurs of both flavour and taste. Its recipes, first appearing in the literature of the Han, Wei, Southern and Northern Dynasties (220-589), have become famous both at home and abroad since the beginning of the 20th century. With a long culinary history, the Cantonese are very inventive, and happy to incorporate non-native ingredients in their cooking.

With the advantage of all delicacies from all over the country, Guangdong cuisine has gradually formed its own characteristics. Hong Kong is the world capital for this style of cooking.

Using a wide variety of ingredients, it offers food of all tastes, shapes and colours, serving different types of dishes for all seasons. Light food is provided in summer and autumn, while winter and spring see strong and mellow food.

Spinach, cabbage, peppers, broccoli and dried mushrooms are widely used. Ginger, spring onion, sugar, salt, soy sauce, rice wine, corn starch and oil are main ingredients used in most Cantonese cooking.

Cantonese cuisine is characterized by the use of very mild spices. Five spices (prickly ash, star aniseed, cinnamon, clove and fennel), white pepper powder and many other spices are used in Cantonese dishes, but usually very lightly.

Cantonese cooking also specializes in the quick stir-frying of vegetables, which helps to retain colour, flavour and nutrients, and roasting a wide variety of meats, poultry, and seafood.

Three cuisines in one

Cantonese cuisine, known as ‘yue cai’, one of the main cuisine styles in China, is composed of Guangzhou, Chaozhou and Dongjiang cuisines.

Guangzhou, capital city of the province, is the place of origin of Cantonese cuisine, offering more than 2,000 kinds of dishes. Prepared with a variety of high-quality ingredients, Guangzhou cuisine is composed of light, delicious, refreshing and nutritious dishes with sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, salty and delicious tastes.

Chaozhou cuisine focuses on the seafood dishes since Chaozhou is a coastal city.

Dongjiang cuisine, or Hakka food, is very popular in the cities of Heyuan and Meizhou. Fatty, salty and well-done, many dishes of Hakka cuisine are believed to help nourish diners’ kidneys, reduce temperature, clear the lungs and improve both the eyes and skin.

Dongjiang salted chicken, one of the famous Hakka dishes, is a traditional dish with a golden yellow colour, crisp and tender meat and a fragrant smell. There are two cooking methods. The traditional one is to wrap the clean chicken in paper then put it into heated salt, the heat from the salt cooks the chicken. The other way is to soak the chicken in hot soup until it is 80 per cent cooked, then pick it up and chop it into several parts. Following that salt, oil and sesame oil are put in. Stir it to make the ingredients even, and lastly cook it until it is totally ready.

Through a long history, these three Cantonese cuisines have effectively integrated with each other and can be enjoyed at many places in the province.

Delicate dim sum

Guangzhou’s most omnipresent speciality is the snack dim sum. Often eaten at breakfast or lunch, dim sum are savoury dumplings stuffed with prawns, beef and pork. The most popular dim sum items are: ‘ha gau’ (shrimp dumpling), ‘siu mai’ (prawn and pork dumpling), ‘pai gwat’ (steamed spareribs), ‘chun guen’ (spring rolls), ‘cha siu pau’ (steamed barbecued pork buns), and ‘cheung fun’ (steamed rice flour rolls with barbecue pork, beef, or shrimp). While other parts of China also produce dim sum, Guangdong people believe that the Cantonese style transcends all in both variety and delicacy.

The region also produces a great variety of snacks with different tastes, such as moon cakes, porridge, chicken cakes, pastries, red sweetened bean paste and double skin milk.

Cantonese snacks have many peculiar ingredients, some sweet and some salty, enjoying the reputation of “100 kinds of snacks having 100 tastes and 100 shapes.”

Cantonese seafood

Seafood plays an important part in Guangdong cuisine. The long coastline gives access to the rich fishing grounds of the South China Sea with their enormous variety of fish and seafood. Prawns, shrimps, scallops, lobster and crab are in plentiful supply. Locals believe that the best way to cook fresh seafood is by stir-frying or steaming, usually with ginger and onion to offset their “fishiness”. The light seasoning is used only to enhance the natural sweetness of the seafood. Seafood is also frequently used in meat dishes – giving the food a distinctive savoury quality. Oyster sauce, shrimp sauce and shrimp paste are widely used. For instance, beef with oyster sauce is a favorite dish in the region.

Soup a must

Last, but certainly not least, is Cantonese soup cooked on low heat. The soup is usually a clear broth prepared by simmering meat and other ingredients for several hours. Chinese herbal medicines are sometimes added to the clay pot, to make the soup nutritious and healthy. The ingredients of a more expensive Cantonese slow cooked soup include fresh chicken, dried cod fish bladder, dried sea cucumber and dried abalone. Another more affordable combination includes pork bones and watercress with two types of almonds. Other ingredients include ginger, dates and other Chinese herbal medicines.

The method used to cook the soup is to put the raw materials in when the water is boiling, then turn down the heat and simmer for two to four hours. The main attraction is the liquid in the pot, the solids are usually thrown away unless they are expensive ingredients such as abalone or snake. Local residents believe all soup improves their health.

Cantonese people attach great importance to the health-giving properties of soup in different seasons. Different soup is cooked in different seasons using the best seasonal ingredients available, catering to people’s varying tastes and needs.

Source: www.

Szechuan Cuisine

People immediately think of Sichuan food as being hot, sour, sweet, and salty; using fish sauce; or having a strange taste. Actually, these flavors were introduced only in the last 100 years, and initially were popular only in the lower strata of society. Hot pepper, an important flavoring in Sichuan cuisine, was introduced into China only 200 to 300 years ago.

During the period of the Three Kingdoms, the kingdom of Shu was located in Sichuan. According to historical research, the people in Shu liked sweet food. During the Jin Dynasty, they preferred to eat pungent food; however, pungent food at that time referred to food made with ginger, mustard, chives, or onions. As recently as 200 years ago, there were no hot dishes in Sichuan cuisine, and few were cooked with pungent and hot flavorings. Originally, its flavorings were very mild, unlike the popular dishes of today, such as Mar Por tofu and other hot dishes. Even today, some Sichuan dishes, like velvet shark’s fin, braised bear’s paw, crisp duck roasted with camphor and tea, sea cucumber with pungent flavor, minced chicken with hollyhock, boiled pork with mashed garlic, dry – fried carp, and boiled Chinese cabbage have kept their traditional flavors.

Sichuan has been known as the land of plenty since ancient times. While it does not have seafood, it produces abundant domestic animals, poultry, and freshwater fish and crayfish. Sichuan cuisine is well known for cooking fish. As a unique style of food, Sichuan cuisine was already famous more than 800 years ago during the Southern Song Dynasty when Sichuan restaurants were opened in Lin’an, now called Hangzhou, its capital city.

The prevailing Sichuan food consists of popular dishes eaten by common people and characterized by pungent, hot, strange, and salty flavors (see next article below). Although Sichuan cuisine has only a short history, it has affected and even replaced more sumptuous dishes.

The hot pepper was introduced into China from South America around the end of the 17th century. Once it came to Sichuan, it became a favored food flavoring. Sichuan has high humidity and many rainy or overcast days. Hot pepper helps reduce internal dampness, so hot pepper was used frequently in dishes, and hot dishes became the norm in Sichuan cuisine. Sichuan food has become the common food for most people in the area, especially since the dishes go well with rice. In this respect, Sichuan cuisine differs from Beijing cuisine, which was mainly for officials and nobility; Huai – Yang cuisine, which was mainly for rich, important traders; and Jiangsu – Zhejiang cuisine, which was mainly for literati. Typical, modern Sichuan dishes like twice – cooked pork with chili sauce, shredded pork with chili sauce and fish flavor, Crucian carp with thick broad – bean sauce, and boiled mat slices are common dishes eaten by every family.

Sichuan food is famous for its many flavors, and almost every dish has its own unique taste. This is because many flavorings and seasonings are produced in Sichuan Province. These include soy sauce from Zhongba, cooking vinegar from baoning, special vinegar from Sanhui, fermented soy beans from Tongchuan, hot pickled mustard tubers from Fuling, chili sauce from Chongqing, thick, broad – bean sauce from Pixian, and well salt from Zigong.

Sichuan pickles have an appealing smell, and are crisp, tender, salty, sour, hot, and sweet. If pickled elsewhere, even if made the same way using the same raw materials, they still would taste different. This is because the salt, which comes from wells in Zigong, has a unique flavor. In other places, sea salt is often used, which tastes slightly bitter. This example demonstrates that the flavoring materials are very important, apart from the skill of the cooks. In Sichuan food, a single flavor is rarely used, compound flavors are most common. By blending different seasonings, skilled cooks can make dozens of different sauces each with its own flavor, including creamy, salty, sweet and sour, litchi, sour with chili, hot with chili, spicy and hot, mashed garlic, distiller’s grain, fish sauce with chili, ginger juice, and soy sauce. The same sauce may be used differently in different dishes. For example, the flavor of the hot with chile sauce for boiled sliced pork is different from the flavor of the hot with chile sauce for Mar Por tofu.

When flavoring foods, sometimes two or more flavorings are combined, and sometimes a hot fire is used to concentrate the extract from the dish to increase the intensity of the flavor, preserve the primary taste of the dish, remove unpleasant flavors, and increase pleasant flavors. Sichuan cuisine tends to use quick – frying, quick stir – frying, dry – braising, and dry – stewing. In quick – frying and quick stir – frying, the food is fried over a hot fire and stirred quickly without using another pan. For example, it takes about one minute to stir – fry liver and kidney to keep it tender, soft, delicious, and fresh.

The raw materials for dry – braising are mostly fibrous foods like beef, radish, balsam, and kidney beans. These foods are cut into slivers, heated in an iron pot and stirred continuously. Flavorings are added when there is only oil left and the water has disappeared. When the dish is ready, it is dry, fragrant, crisp, and soft.

Dry – stewing is similar to stewing in the Beijing cuisine, but the primary soup or extract in the dish must be condensed over a low fire before the thick broad – bean sauce or hot red pepper is added. No starch is used. When the dish is ready, it looks faddish, oily, and shiny and tastes delicious, crisp and soft. Typical dishes are dry – stewed fish and dry – stewed bamboo shoots.

Sichuan cuisine also has many delicious snacks and desserts, such as Bangbang chicken, chicken with sesame paste, lantern shadow beef, husband and wife’s pork lung slices, steamed beef, noodles with chili sauce, and rice dumplings stuffed with sesame paste.


The Seven Distinct Tastes in Szechuan Cuisine

One of the special characteristics of Szechuan Cuisine among all the Chinese regional cuisine is its emphasis on the tastes. Using different ingredients and spices, master chefs in Szechuan created many dishes with unique tastes and flavour.

The tastes of Szechuan cuisine come from a combination of seven distinct tastes which are described individually below.

Peppery Taste

The taste comes from the peppercorn that was grown in the region. The combination of peppercorn and chili gives the unique peppery chili hot taste to many famous Szechuan dishes. A seasoning ingredient containing salt and peppercorn powder is a popular ingredient used in Chinese cooking other than Szechuan cuisine.

Chili Taste

The different types of chilies grown in the region provide the hot taste to the food. The heat level of the chilies can be sweet, mild, hot or very hot depending on their varieties.

Salty Taste

Szechuan produces its unique kind of salt. Hence salty taste is a dominant taste in Szechuan cuisine. The taste comes from the salt and the soy sauce made with the salt and soybean. The combination of salty taste and chili taste has created many home taste dishes.

Sweet Taste

White sugar, cane sugar, beet root sugar, rock sugar and fruit provide the sweet taste to Szechuan dishes. Using sugar and fruit with other ingredients, chefs created tastes such as fish taste, sweet & sour taste and Li-tze taste.

Sour Taste

The taste comes from vinegar and pickled vegetables. Also, the different coloured vinegar enriches the presentation of the cuisine.

Bitter Taste

The bitter melon used to cook with vegetables or meat gives the food the bitter taste.

Aromatic Taste

The taste comes from the many varieties of spices that are used extensively in Szechuan cuisine. Dried orange peel that has been stored for prolonged period of time is also used as a spice. It has provided several well-known Szechuan dishes with the unique Chan-pei taste.

Common Chinese Cooking Methods


Cook the cut-up ingredients and sauce by stirring and tossing in small amount of oil in a wok. Raw Stir-fry is put a small amount of oil in the wok, stir-fry the main ingredients until half cooked. Add the remaining ingredients, putting in ingredients that take longer to cook first. Finish cooking by adding the sauce ingredients. Remove food until the sauce is thoroughly mixed and absorbed. Cooked Stir-fry is to precook briefly the main ingredients by deep-fry or parboil before stir-frying in small amount of oil in a wok. Toss briefly after adding the other ingredients and finish cooking with a thin thickening sauce. To achieve the right colour, aroma and taste, it is important to control the level of heat as well as to understand the characteristics of the ingredients.


Cook food in a wok without browning in a small amount of hot oil over high heat.


Cook food in small quantity of oil in a pan or wok. The oil usually covers up to less than half the thickness of the food. The food is turned halfway to cook both sides. Dry Pan-fry is to cook the food with just pan-fry only. Wet Pan-fry is after pan-fried the food, a sauce is added into the pan to cook with the food before serving.


Cook the food in large quantity of very hot oil in a large wok or deep pot. Ingredients for deep-fry can be just marinated, marinated and coated with flour/bread crumb or coated with batter. Semi-deep-fry refers to a cooking method between Pan-fry and Deep-fry with the food cooked in a moderate amount of oil just covering the ingredients.


Processed ingredients in a dish are put inside a covered steamer or on a wire or bamboo rack inside a saucepan or wok half filled with water over high heat. The food is cooked by steam. The water should not contact the food. This method enables the food to be cooked in a moderate temperature and to retain its taste and flavour.


The ingredients are cooked in the boiling water in a pot or a wok. The food is then eaten with seasoning ingredients or gone thorough other cooking processes with other ingredients. Parboil is to pre-cook the food briefly in boiling water.


The main ingredients are usually either pan-fried or deep-fried. They are then cooked under low heat in a covered pot with small amount of water or stock and other ingredients for a moderate period of time. The cooking is finished with a cornstarch solution with dark soy sauce (Red Braise) or with a clear cornstarch solution (Raw or Yellow Braise).


This method is similar to Braise. The food however is usually cooked under low heat for a much longer period of time until the main ingredients are tender.


Cook the food in an oven under controlled temperature. Raw Bake is to cook the raw ingredients directly after processing. Cooked Bake is to finish the cooking of food that has been pre-cooked by other cooking method.


Cook the food directly over open fire. Roasting can also be done using the broil cycle in an oven.


Mix together all ingredients that do not require cooking after cutting. Add sauce and serve. If ingredients have been precooked, allow cooling before mixing together.


Cook food in an oven or an open grill with sugar, wood chips or tea underneath but not touching the food. The fume will give the food its special flavour.

Dun (Chinese terminology)

The food together with water or broth is cooked inside a covered container in a double boiler of water under moderate heat until it is tender. Soup made by this method is very clear.

Lau (Chinese terminology)

First prepare the sauce in the pan. Then add the precooked food and mix well with the sauce. There should be just sufficient sauce.

Lo (Chinese terminology)

Cook food in a strong mixture of spices, wine and dark soy sauce to obtain a rich brown colour and a rich flavour.

Pao (Chinese terminology)

Precook food by deep-frying in hot oil for a short time.

Steam Cooking

Steam has been used in China for cooking for thousands of years. Today, steaming remains an integral aspect of many Chinese and Asian kitchens. Compared to grilling and roasting, which requires a very hot sustained source of heat, steam calls for a less rigorous fire. The principle behind steaming is simple: When water reaches its boiling point of 212F, steam-the gaseous state of water-is produced. Trapped in a covered receptacle, the hot moist vapor rises upwards and produces a wet oven-like environment for food to cook in.

The benefits of steaming are numerous. Its basic preparation, minimal equipment and easy clean up make it an appealing way to cook for everyone. Once seasoned, vegetables, meats, fish and poultry are ready to eat right out of the steamer. Steaming maintains the integrity of flavor in foods. Poultry and meats that are traditionally boiled, roasted or braised have more flavors when steamed and don’t run the risk of drying out. A far higher level of nutrients, vitamins and minerals is retained than by other cooking methods. Steam cooking reduces Vitamin C in vegetables by 40% whereas boiling reduces it by 70% because it is lost in the cooking water. Steaming is also an excellent method for re-heating food without scorching it. Though steaming won’t achieve a deeply browned and caramelized finish on the exterior of food like dry heat does, it will produce a moist and deeply flavored dish. If you want to brown something, you can cook it twice by roasting or quick frying after it has been steamed.

Steaming requires very little equipment. The three essential components are a pot or wok of water, a rack, steamer basket, or dish to hold the food and a lid to keep the steam from escaping. A three-tier Chinese aluminum or bamboo steamer is the perfect tool, able to cook several dishes at once.

Steaming Tips:

  • Steam needs to circulate freely so food must be arranged spaciously. Keep foods uniform in size to facilitate even cooking.
  • Always steam in a plate deep enough to catch cooking juices. A 7- to 9-inch plate with curved, sloped sides (2 inches deep) is perfect. Wide-flared pasta or pie dishes will do the job.
  • Do not allow the water generating the steam touch the food, or the food will boil and not steam. Suspend it at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the water. There should be enough water in the bottom throughout the steaming process. Top it off with boiling water when steaming for long periods to produce a constant supply of steam.
  • Use the freshest vegetables and meats, especially seafood. Steam cooking exposes the best of fresh ingredients, and the worst of poor ingredients.
  • When using steamer equipment, consult a manufacturer’s guide for cooking times, but adhere to basic cooking principles for each food. Check for doneness by looking for appropriate texture, color, consistency, shape and aroma. Continue to cook foods that are not cooked through or not cooked to your liking, despite having been cooked for the recommended cooking time. Steamed foods should be plump, moist and tender. Flesh of fish and shellfish will lose translucency and become opaque. Mollusks, such as clams and mussels, open when properly cooked. Vegetables will have good color and no graying. Grains will be fluffy and tender.
  • Practice kitchen safety: Remember that steam is extremely hot. Protect hands and face when raising a lid or cover.
  • Modify heat according to the nature of food being steamed. An intense or rolling boil can cook too fast, causing some delicate proteins such as fish fillets to contract.
  • If steaming is used as a preliminary cooking technique, heat only until food reaches a par-cooked state. Remove immediately and plunge into cold water to stop cooking.
  • Always defrost frozen meats, fish and poultry before cooking, to allow for correct and complete cooking within the recommended times.

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