Guangzhou enjoys a reputation as the “Food Capital of China”. Guangzhou people are very particular about food. Many of them have tea with refreshments three times, two meals and nighttime snacks in a day. Many 100-year-old teahouse and restaurants are found in Guangzhou. The more famous ones on Beijing Road and the upper and lower 9th Roads serve refreshments and snacks of the traditional flavor of Guangzhou.
Guangzhou-style refreshments come in more than 1,000 varieties. They are famous throughout China for their meticulous way to make and mingled salty and sweet tastes. Steamed dumpling stuffed with shrimp or pork, Pantang Waternut Cake, Beehive Taro Cake, Chick Cake, Glutinous Chicken and Hometown Salty Cake are the better known refreshments.
Guangzhou people have developed the soup cooking into a culinary culture with strong local flavor. It takes several hours of cooking on low fire to get the soup ready. Even the soup without any expensive ingredients tastes delicious.
The Guangzhou cuisine, one of the four major Chinese culinary schools, includes the Guangzhou branch, the Chaozhou branch and the Dongjiang (Hakka) branch. It has been developed based on the Guangzhou cooking skills and by assimilating the best cooking skills from Beijing, the provinces of Sichuan, Jiangsu, Shandong and Zhejiang, and those of West-style cooking. Guangzhou chefs use a great variety of ingredients and are meticulous in selecting them. They stress on maintaining the original flavor of the raw material so that a dish will taste refreshing and tender. Guangzhou people eat different dishes in different seasons. In summer they have more porridge and soup. In autumn they eat more crabs because they taste the best in this season, and dishes and soup that release the inner heat in the body. In winter they eat more food with tonic properties and stronger flavor, such as “Eels Stesed in Pottery Pot” and “Fragrant Meat in Pottery Pot”. These dishes can warm the stomach.
Classical dishes of Guangzhou include “Sliced Steamed Chicken”, “Assorted Delicacies in White Gourd Bowl”, “Buddha Jumping over the Wall”, “Golden Roasted Suckling Pig”, “Grilled Pork with Honey”, and “Roasted Goose”, and so on.
Sliced Steamed Chicken
The most common kind of chicken dishes in Guangdong Province is cooked in a simple way: Boil a dressed chicken in plain water and get it out as soon as it is done. In this way the meat maintains its original flavor and tastes refreshing. The chicken skim is smooth.
Assorted Delicacies in White Gourd Bowl
Various ingredients such as lean pork, turkey meat, ham, crabmeat, frog meat and fresh oyster are placed in a white gourd with its seeds spooned out. Then the white gourd is steamed. The dish looks nice and tastes refreshing. It is an excellent dish in summer.
Buddha Jumping over the Wall
This dish with a strange name is prepared with 28 kinds of ingredients, including abalone, sea cucumber, fish, shark’s fin and various meats marinated in Shaoxing wine and cooked over low fire for more than 10 hours. When ready the dish emits a pleasant aroma. It is an excellent dish in autumn and winter. A poet in the Qing Dynasty sang praises of this dish: “After the cover of the jar is lifted, the aroma spreads far and wide. Even Buddhist monks jump over the wall to smell it.” The name of this dish came from this poem.
Golden Roasted Suckling Pig
It is a famous and expensive dish from Guangdong Province with a history of 1,400 years. Guangzhou chefs cook this dish in two ways: One is to roast the piglet with low heat and coat its skin with some oil. The other way is to roast the piglet with high heat and keep on coating its skin with oil. The air bubbles created by the hot oil loosen the skin. The piglet’s skin then turns golden yellow and the sesame-like bubbles are evenly distributed on the skin. The crust is so crisp that it melts in the mouth.
Grilled Pork with Honey
The process of making this traditional dish goes like this: First, cut a piece of half-lean pork into slices, put them in a pottery pot with various condiments, let them marinate for 45 minutes; then string the pork slices onto baking rings, put them in the oven for 30 minutes until the meat is done, take the meat out, sprinkle syrup on the meat evenly and put it back in the oven for reheating of two minutes. The baked meat tastes salty inside and sweet outside. The lean meat is crisp and the fat meat is not greasy.
The roasted goose is a kind of traditional barbecued dish in Guangzhou. Roasted goose stores are found everywhere in the city. It is cooked much the same as the roasted duck. The medium or small-sized black brown goose from Qingyuan is most suitable for this dish. First, cut off the wings and legs of a goose, remove the guts and then blow the bird up, coat it with five-spice power, sew it up, pure boiling water over it, dip it in cold water for a second, coat it with sugar, let it dry and preserve it in salt. Then roast the preserved goose in an oven or over an open fire. While roasting it, keep turning until the meat is done and turns golden, cut the meat into pieces, arrange them on a plate and serve.
Guangzhou hosts various food festivals every year. All the hotels and restaurants send their best cooks to attend. Their innovative dishes never fail to surprise gourmets. Guangzhou people are good and generous diners. Many chefs of all the major Chinese culinary schools are found in Guangzhou. In Guangzhou there are also restaurants serving food from Japan, France, Spain, South Korea, Italy and countries in Southeast Asia.