Cantonese food, herbal tea, fine fruits from Lingnan, and Cantonese-style dim sum never fail to delight local folks and afford tourists a taste of Guangzhou’s culinary culture. What’s more, the special local products of Guangzhou are also very popular.
For Guangdong folks, the herbal tea is as important to their health as water is to life. Made of medicinal herbs according to local climate, water and soil characteristics and health promotion theories in traditional Chinese medicine, herbal tea is effective in dissipating heat, removing toxins, stimulating salivation, and quenching thirst. Herbal tea stores can be seen everywhere, and the most famous ones include Wong Chun Loong and Deng’s Herbal Tea. The pre-packed herbal teas from Wong Lo Kat, Chen Li Ji and Shang Qing Yin are convenient to take along.
Dubbed the “king of fruits”, lychee is a valuable subtropical fruit and is one of the top four fruits in the Lingnan area. Lychee is effective in stimulating salivation, replenishing vital energy, and regulating the flow of vital energy, and dried lychee is also very popular. With reddish brown skin and bright yellow pulp, dried lychee tastes fresh and sweet. You can eat it directly, brew it in water to drink, or use it as an ingredient when cooking soup.
Cantonese-style mooncake, originated in 1889, is usually soft with thin skin, and beautifully shaped with clear and exquisite pattern. There are two different tastes: salty and sweet. The ingredients used for the fillings are various, such as lotus seed paste, almond, salted eggs, barbecued pork, etc. Nowadays, fruits, abalones, shark fins or scallops are also used. Besides, mooncakes with less sugar or less fat are provided. Of the various brands of Cantonese-style moon cakes, Lian Xiang Lou Restaurant, Guangzhou Restaurant and Tao Tao Ju are the most famous.
Sweetheart pastry is made from winter melon, flour, sesame, rice powder, etc. The skin is crisp while the stuffing is soft and smooth, sweet but not greasy. The sweetheart pastry from Lian Xiang Lou Restaurant is now the most popular. Nevertheless, the most interesting thing about the sweetheart pastry is its touching tale and its sweet name.
Once upon a time, there was a poor couple who loved each other very much. Unfortunately, the husband’s father got ill and they had no money to see the doctor. The wife sold herself as a slave to save the old man. The husband was sad but he was not disheartened. Instead, he tried his best to develop a delicious cake and earned some monkey, with which he bought his wife back.
Jizaibing (Ji Zai Biscuit), Guangzhou’s leading kind of biscuits, is also called “Xiaofengbing” (Xiao Feng Biscuit). It is said this biscuit was created by a woman named Xiao Feng in Qing Dynasty. But, the biscuit didn’t become famous until half a century later when, frustrated by the sluggish sales of mooncakes, biscuit makers at Guangzhou’s Chengzhu Teahouse made the bold move to adopt the production technique of Xiao Feng biscuit and use a mixture of mashed moon cakes, pork and cabbage hearts as fillings to produce a new “Chengzhu Xiao Feng Biscuit”. Flavored with cream, mashed garlic, ground pepper powder, five-spice powder, and salt, the new Xiao Feng biscuits are sweet and salty and crispy. Xiao Feng Biscuit is shaped like chicken, hence its nickname of “Ji Zai Biscuit” (“Ji Zai” means chicken).
Cantonese-Style Cured Meat and Sausages
With a long history, Cantonese-style cured meat and sausages are well-known around the world. Famous enterprises producing cured pork, duck meat, fish, and cured sausages include Huang Shang Huang, Ba Bai Zai and Cang Zhou.
Preserve bacon belly in a juice mixed from soy sauce, salt, wine and sugar for two or three days, then dry it, and you will get delicious cured pork.
Made of selected fine materials, Cantonese-style cured sausages (lap cheong) feature exquisite workmanship and outstanding texture, flavor, aroma and presentation. They have dozens of forms in total, including raw sausage, long cured sausage, duck liver sausage, lean pork sausage, pig heart sausage, fresh prawn sausage, winter mushroom sausage, squid sausage, rose pork sausage, beef sausage, Dongguan cured sausage, gold and silver moist sausage, bacon belly sausage, pork paste sausage, and so on. Cantonese-style cured sausages can be cooked in various ways to suit personal taste. They can be used as instant food, fried with vegetables, or become part of an assorted cold dish; they can also be used as filling for buns and moon cakes or as an ingredient for instant glutinous rice, cured meat rice, and triple-flavored chicken. In a word, they are suitable for both formal occasions and family-style dinners.