Friday, February 20, 2015

Hong Kong Food - The Cuisines Of Asia's World City

Dim Sum Variety
The cuisines of China (particularly the Cantonese) are dominating Hong Kong's culinary scene, and that is no surprise, as most Hong Kongers are of Cantonese origin.  Alongside the Chinese cuisines, you will find many restaurants specializing in other Far East cuisines, such as Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian and others... European and British influence can also be found, as Hong Kong was a British colony for more than 150 years.

Yum cha ("drinking tea") is an integral part of Hong Kong's culinary culture.

This Cantonese term refers to the custom of eating small servings of different foods, mainly dim sum, while sipping Chinese tea.

Dim sum is probably Hong Kong's most popular dish. It literally translates to "touch the heart", which means "take what your heart picks" (that is because of the great variety you can choose from…)

Dim sum is typically served as a light meal or brunch that consists of various types of steamed buns, dumplings and rice-rolls, containing a range of fillings, including beef, chicken, pork, prawns and vegetarian options…

It is normally eaten some time from morning to early afternoon and usually served with Chinese tea.

Visiting a traditional Hong Kong style teahouse for Yum Cha is strongly recommended.

Another true "Hong Kong institution" is the Cha Chaan Teng: A casual restaurant which can be described as a hybrid between a Chinese teahouse and a café… Those places are normally open from morning till evening and serve a variety of local favorites… from Hong Kong style toasts and milk tea to rice and noodle specialties.

Cantonese Cuisine

The Cantonese cuisine comes from the area around the city of Guangzhou (Canton), in Guangdong Province, just a short drive from Hong Kong.

Of the different Chinese cuisines, Cantonese is the most popular outside China, probably thanks to the fact that it is not as spicy as some of its "counterparts"…

Great diversity of ingredients is, perhaps, what characterizes the Cantonese cuisine more than anything else… The Cantonese cuisine makes use of almost every ingredient under the sun and as the famous Chinese saying goes "The Cantonese will eat everything that swims except the boat, everything that flies except the airplane, and everything that runs except the car"...

The Cantonese cuisine is also characterized by the use of very mild and simple spices in combination.  Ginger, spring onion, sugar, salt, soy sauce, rice wine, corn starch and oil are sufficient for most Cantonese cooking, although garlic is also used abundantly.

Steaming, stir frying and deep frying seem to be the most popular cooking methods in Cantonese restaurants due to the short cooking time, and the philosophy of bringing out the flavor of the freshest ingredients.

Other than the ultimate Dim sum, recommended Cantonese dishes include Sweet and sour fish, Fried Garoupa fish, Deep-fried crispy chicken, Crispy pig belly, Roast Suckling Pig And, of course… the costly Braised Shark's fin and Abalone

Chiu Chow Cuisine

The Chiu Chow (Teochew) cuisine comes from Chiuchow (now called 'Chaozhou'), a city in China's Guangdong Province, not far from Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Expectedly, this cooking style is very similar to Cantonese cuisine, although Chiuchow cuisine does maintain a certain degree of culinary independence…

Poached cold crab, Baby oyster with omelets, Chiu Chow style roast duck and Chiu Chow soya goose are some of the recommended dishes.

Sichuan Cuisine

The Sichuan (Szechwan) cuisine originates from Sichuan Province in southwestern China and has an international reputation for being hot and spicy.

The most common ingredient is the Sichuan peppercorn, or Fagara: An indigenous plant whose peppercorns produce a fragrant, numbing, almost citrusy spice. Other common spices include Chilli, Ginger, Star anise, Fennel seed, Coriander, Chili bean paste, Garlic and Spicy herbs.

Common cooking methods include smoking, stir frying, braising and simmering, which allow peppers and aromatic seasonings time to infuse food with unforgettable tastes and aromas

Famous Sichuan dishes include Sichuan style dan-dan noodle, Pork slices in a garlic sauce with a hint of chili, Braised beef in Szechwan pepper sauce, Kung Pao chicken, Ma Por tofu and Twice Cooked Pork.

Beijing Cuisine

Peking/Beijing (Mandarin) cuisine originates from China's capital city.

It developed over the centuries by thousands of skilled cooks from China's different regions, who flocked to the "big city" to work for royal families and wealthy government officials.

Peking duck is, by far, the most popular Pekingese dish, and it is mostly prized for its thin and crispy skin. Other famous dishes of the Peking cuisine include Hot and sour soup, as well as Sautéed sliced beef with scallion and Drunken pigeon.

The Shanghainese cuisine originates from coastal provinces around the city of Shanghai and is characterized by the use of alcohol. Fish, eel, crab and chicken are "drunken" with spirits and usually served raw.

Salted meats and preserved vegetables are also commonly used to spice up the dish. Another "secret ingredient" of the Shanghainese cuisine is sugar…

Sweet and sour spare ribs, Beggar's Chicken, Shanghai hairy crab, "eight treasure" duck, "drunken" chicken, braised eel and yellow fish are the most popular dishes…

Contemporary fusion cuisine has made it big in Hong Kong over the last few years… The city's chefs keep on coming up with innovative culinary creations that combine China's different cooking styles with those of other regions, and the results are surprisingly delicious.

Japanese, Indian, Korean and Southeast Asian restaurants are very popular in Hong Kong and are well worth considering, especially if you are tired of Chinese food but still want to try something "authentic".


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