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Cantonese Cooking & Traditions

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126 replies to this topic

#31 itch22

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 06:59 AM

Well I don't plan on learning directly from the dictionary, I'll be taking lessons. The English-Cantonese dictionary would be a resource I could access. That's why I want one with traditional Chinese characters because memorizing them would be the hardest. When I took Japanese, as long as you can remember the hiragana and the katakana, you could get by because they are phonetic alphabhets.

I know Mandarin is the official language of the PRC and the simplified script is being instituted to increase literacy, but I need to pick up Cantonese to get along better in the local Chinese communities here in Canada. And here everyone speaks Cantonese. I don't think I could even find a teacher for Mandarin. :unsure:

To be honest, south-eastern Ontario is turning into one large Chinese community. Even in towns as small as Belleville (pop. 45,000) the most basic grocery stores carry pomello, chinese broccoli, daikon, bok choy (standard, Shanghai, AND baby!), and bitter melons yet do you think you could find an artichoke? Hell no! My fiancee is a teacher in a "non-asian community" of about 500 and four of her students are Chinese who speak little-to-no English. At the farmers market, in the summer, you can find locally grown chilies, Asian basil, daikon, and napa cabbage. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving the great selection and competative prices. :biggrin:
-- Jason

#32 hzrt8w

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Posted 20 January 2005 - 07:20 PM

Then a pocket English/Chinese dictionary may be handy for you. I haven't used mine for a while. I remember it has English->Chinese translations shown in traditional character set. There are different ways of inputting Chinese characters. One of which is phonetic, which means it lists out all the Chinese characters with the same pronounciations. It was handy for me because when I write Chinese essays, I could remember the sounds but not the characters. That helped. Now that I hardly write anything in Chinese any more... no need to use it...
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#33 alycemoy

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 03:36 PM

I recently find myself craving steamed pork patty.
I had it a lot as a kid, and I now live on the opposite coast from my grandmother and parents, none of who can articulate anything resembling recipe of course.

So I'm just trying to figure out where to start. I know there's minced pork, and water chestnuts, and other stuff.... Mushrooms? some sort of picked veg?

I don't even know... but I do know you mince it all together with some soy sauce and maybe some other stuff and then steam it, sometimes with an egg (plain or salted) on top.

Can anyone help me? Do people even know what I'm talking about?

#34 BCinBC

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 04:01 PM

I assume you're talking about yook beng. No recipe, but when I was a kid I used to love haam yee yook beng - which did indeed have water chestnuts as well. Sometimes lap cheung made an appearance, or the preserved vegetable (but not often). Anyway, the stink of the haam yee would totally turn off my siblings, but for some reason I was into it. Still am.

Off the top of my head I'd guess minced pork mixed with soy, Worchestchire (sp?) sauce, sesame oil, corn starch, plus your additional ingredients, steamed for maybe 15-20 minutes? Dejah, Ben or one of the others will probably know better.

#35 alycemoy

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 04:11 PM

That's right. Yook beng. I don't think I've had it with lap cheung.
Trying to think of what haam yee is. Salted something??

I've tried mincing random ingredients before, but a couple thing I get wrong are the propotions of meat to everything else, and the seasoning (often ends up either too bland or over salted). Short of soy sauce, I'm not sure what else goes in. Any oyster sauce?

#36 BCinBC

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 04:28 PM

Haam yee = salt fish, those little dried yellow/golden scraps of unidentifiable fish that smell gross and (IMO) taste pretty good.

I'd guess no on the oyster sauce. Proportions - who knows, it's all eyeballing cooking anyway. I guess that's probably why your parents etc can't give you a recipe.

#37 Ben Hong

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 04:47 PM

Lean ground beef or pork, with pork being the heavy favourite, is the base. If you can do it, chop the meat yourself as the mouth feel is a lot nicer than commercial grinding. Chop using a food processor (electric) or the Chinese type, with a cleaver knife in each hand :biggrin: . Usually something salty is incorporated, mixed in or just laid on top of the meat. The salty component can be salt eggs, salt fish (haum yu), choong choy, jah choy, etc. Add a few drops of soy sauce (careful, because the flavouring ingredient is already salty), a scant tsp. of cornstarch, mix well, form into a flat patty in a semi-flat dish and steam till done. Just after you take it out of the steam, you may wish to add a few drops of sesame oil.

Some of the added highlighting ingredients could be:

for haum yu - slivers of ginger and scallions

for salt eggs - chives

for choong choy - a pinch of sugar

and so on.

Worcestershire sauce is N E V E R used in this very earthy home dish.

#38 Ben Hong

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 04:51 PM

Proportions - who knows, it's all eyeballing cooking anyway. I guess that's probably why your parents etc can't give you a recipe.

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[/quote]


Right you are BC. After about a dozen or so trials, one should be able to guage the taste. Remember the old adage, it's always easier to add the salt than to take it out. Start on the bland side.

#39 Dejah

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 04:54 PM

For a silkier texture, add acouple tbsp oil along with the cornstarch, then stir the mixture with your chopsticks before adding other ingredients.

I like it with slivers of lap cheung, waterchestnut, rehydrated Chinese mushrooms and ginger. You can lay these on top of mix into the pork before steaming.

With ham yue, I mix up the pork, then lay chunks of the salted fish on top, lay some ginger on these, then a drizzle of oil on the fish and ginger.

Yoo bad I've had my supper of lap may fan...
Dejah
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#40 BCinBC

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 05:02 PM

There you go - it's like putting out the Bat Signal. Cooking question? Ben and Dejah will come to the rescue, and right quick too.

I guessed the W-sauce for a source of "umami" shall we say. But thanks for setting it straight, Ben. I'm feeling a little proud that I guessed the rest, although Chinese marinades only deviate so far... :rolleyes:

#41 alycemoy

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 05:03 PM

Thanks for the great advice. I guess maybe I just haven't made it enough times to even know where to start with the eyeballing. Maybe I'll try it this weekend and see.

#42 annachan

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 06:51 PM

Water, I remember from somewhere that a little water is added to the meat along w/ corn starch, soy sauce, oil and a pinch of sugar. Grandma used to make it with salted egg most often, and salted fish at times. She also use a variety of preserved vegetables, too. An aunt of mine like to add mushroom, water chestnut and a little dried mandarin peel.

#43 rjwong

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 07:39 PM

Here's a recipe from a local cookbook that was put together by a group of Chinese women, including some of my relatives:

Steamed Minced Pork (Jing Ger Yook Bang)

1 lb. pork butt or pork steak, minced fine
4 fresh water chestnuts (mah tai), peeled & chopped. Can be omitted.
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. soy sauce
1 tsp. salad oil

Mix all together & put into a shallow dish. Steam for 45 minutes.

That's a basic recipe. You can add other things. I rather have salted fish (hom yue) with some shredded ginger root and a little oil on top before steaming the whole dish.

Make sure the hom yue is HOM!
Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

#44 Yuki

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 07:39 PM

Wow, that's the first dish that my grandma taught her daughters when they got married. It is a dish that is pretty basic in Cantonese comfort food but it is hard to make a good one. Of course I still couldn't make a good one........

My family makes a version with pork, dried squid, and a bit of preserved vegetable. Grandma says that everything must be chopped by hand because the patty would be more "sticky". The patty is seasoned with sugar, salt, soya sauce, and corn starch. Also, add a bit of water to the patty. At last, grab the mixture by your hand and throw it down at a surface for a couple times.

#45 Dejah

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 06:59 AM

Dried squid...that's something new...must try that as I love the flavour and texture.

Preserved vegetables: mui choi + fresh chopped chilis+ fresh mint! or, ham choi and fresh ginger. So yummy. :wub: Must be the smell of Fall in the air.

You can also make the yook beng with chicken...same process of chopping and mixing, then adding mushroom, waterchestnut, lapcheung and ginger. Have never made it with preserved vegetables, tho'. Anyone?
Dejah
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#46 hzrt8w

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 11:53 AM

...... Have never made it with preserved vegetables, tho'. Anyone?

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Of course. Use mui choy, chung choy, dai tau choy (the "big head" vegetable), or zha choy (the one preserved with chili). Steam them (choose one) with your minced pork patty.

If you make the porty patty with ham yue (salted fish), I would advise not to mix in the salted fish with the pork because it would just "dissolve" into the pork patty and you cannot feel the texture of the fish at all. Best to lay the salted fish on top of the patty when steamed.

I don't put extra water in the pork patty when marinating because during the steaming process, there will be plenty of water condensation deposit in the dish already.

I found that in modern days, using a food processor to grind/mix the pork patty is a good substitute to the traditional "throw it on the floor" method. Whether one should use double cleavers or meat grinders or food processors would depend on the preference on the "graininess" of the pork patty, from coarse to smooth.

You can also add a salted egg to the pork patty: separate the yolk and white. Mix the egg white in the pork patty when marinating. It will hold the patty better. Leave the egg yolk on top to steam with the pork patty.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#47 muichoi

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Posted 26 September 2005 - 11:52 PM

I think the important technique has not been touched on here-the fat part of the pork(should be about 20% by weight) should be chopped fine,but the meat should be trimmed, diced, salted,then pounded to a paste like texture with the back of a heavy cleaver, sprinkling with ginger and spring onion infused wine occasionally. Other ingredients are then added. I add a small pinch of soda. This is the only way to achieve a texture that is crisp and bouncy rather than mealy, which I don't like.

#48 Dejah

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 04:10 AM

I think the important technique has not been touched on here-the fat part of the pork(should be about 20% by weight) should be chopped fine,but the meat should be trimmed, diced, salted,then pounded to a paste like texture with the back of a heavy cleaver, sprinkling with ginger and spring onion infused wine occasionally. Other ingredients are then added. I add a small pinch of soda. This is the only way to achieve a texture that is crisp and bouncy rather than mealy, which I don't like.

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You can achieve the crispy and bouncy texture without the baking soda. I do this by using my chopsticks and stiring the mixture vigorously round and round in the bowl after I've added all the seasonings, a little cornstarch, minimal amount of oil and stock or water. This method incorporates air pockets which in turn creates the bouncy texture. I do this with my beef dim sum balls...with my Kitchen-Aid and it produces great results.

Have to be careful with the baking soda. If not incorporated well, you could get a bitter tasting morsel. :smile:

Welcome muichoy. :biggrin: My maiden name was Choy. I have a cousin named Mui Jin...and the poor kid was was always teased and called Jin Mui Choy. :smile:
Dejah
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#49 muichoi

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 04:46 AM

One certainly can achieve the right texture without soda-but not without manually pounding the meat,though it's possible to use the plastic blade of the food processor.

#50 Dejah

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 02:04 PM

If I pounded the #@&* out of the pork until it is paste like, then I'd lose the desired texture: sticks together but still chopped meat rather than like the Wimpy Burgers of England.

God! I remember the first time I ate one of those...pork cardboard. :laugh: :laugh:
I was happy (THEN, not now) to find McD's had an outlet in London...
Dejah
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#51 muichoi

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 03:03 PM

It shouldn't be paste like;it's the same technique as used to make shrimp balls,and should give the same sensation of eating meat and at the same time eating something ground up, if you see what I mean-it should actually have a lot of texture,as though the fibres are elongated. Just had one for dinner,with salt fish. It really was very good. To try to be more clear, the lean meat is cut into small dice on a large board then hit repeatedly with the back of a heavy cleaver, which is about 1/3 of an inch wide,thus kind of opening up the fibres rather than chopping. Don't really understand the wimpy burger reference, I've never had one.

Edited by muichoi, 27 September 2005 - 03:05 PM.


#52 Dejah

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 03:17 PM

Guess you'd have to have had a Wimpy Burger to understand the reference. Sorry about that. I just assumed you're being in the UK will have had one of those. :laugh:
I suppose that smacking the meat with the flat side of your cleaver would achieve the same results as my stiring like crazy with my chopsticks or with the plastic paddles of my mixer.
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#53 muichoi

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Posted 27 September 2005 - 03:22 PM

I do give the meat about fifty 'grabs' and then throw the ball repeatedly back into the mixing bowl as well-I'm unsure of what actually happens, but I think one's getting rid of air rather than adding it-it feels like the protein chains are getting longer and longer, but I'm certainly scientifically illiterate.

#54 I_call_the_duck

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Posted 03 October 2005 - 08:54 AM

Hi all,

I just discovered this Chinese cooking thread. Yay!

My parents used to make three versions: ham, haam yee, and gnap gawn (duck liver)—my favorite. Since gnap gawn has been hard to find, they substitute gnap gawn lap cheung. I do remember them adding dried mushrooms sometimes. I was just speaking to my mom about it the other day, and she didn’t mention adding cornstarch. She also stressed chopping the meat by hand. Of course, no proportions, so everything was eyeballed. One ingredient that isn’t mentioned here was that she placed a few slices of ginger on the bottom and top.
Karen C.

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#55 Dejah

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Posted 03 October 2005 - 01:33 PM

Hi all,

I just discovered this Chinese cooking thread.  Yay!
My parents used to make three versions:  ham, haam yee, and gnap gawn (duck liver)—my favorite. Since gnap gawn has been hard to find, they substitute gnap gawn lap cheung.  I do remember them adding dried mushrooms sometimes.  I was just speaking to my mom about it the other day, and she didn’t mention adding cornstarch.  She also stressed chopping the meat by hand.  Of course, no proportions, so everything was eyeballed.  One ingredient that isn’t mentioned here was that she placed a few slices of ginger on the bottom and top.

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Cornstarch is like velveting...makes the meat "waht"...

Thanks to the poster who gave me the spelling for that word! :biggrin:

Welcome to the forum, I_call_the_duck.

Edited by Dejah, 03 October 2005 - 01:34 PM.

Dejah
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#56 I_call_the_duck

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Posted 03 October 2005 - 06:33 PM

Hi all,

I just discovered this Chinese cooking thread.  Yay!
My parents used to make three versions:  ham, haam yee, and gnap gawn (duck liver)—my favorite. Since gnap gawn has been hard to find, they substitute gnap gawn lap cheung.  I do remember them adding dried mushrooms sometimes.   I was just speaking to my mom about it the other day, and she didn’t mention adding cornstarch.  She also stressed chopping the meat by hand.  Of course, no proportions, so everything was eyeballed.  One ingredient that isn’t mentioned here was that she placed a few slices of ginger on the bottom and top.

View Post


Cornstarch is like velveting...makes the meat "waht"...

Thanks to the poster who gave me the spelling for that word! :biggrin:

Welcome to the forum, I_call_the_duck.

View Post


Thanks. It's so nice to find people other than my family that speak "Chinglish". :smile: Please don't take offense at that term. My husband, who is a bok gui is still getting used to me throwing in a few words here and there. And my Chinese isn't that good, so when I'm talking to my mom, it's a hybrid of English-Cantonese-Toisanese.

Darn. I was on the phone with my mom today, and forgot to ask her about the cornstarch. She does use cornstarch in her wontons, so it would make sense that she'd use it for the pork patty.

Edited by I_call_the_duck, 03 October 2005 - 06:41 PM.

Karen C.

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#57 hzrt8w

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 03:32 PM

On another food forum, the subject of "sizzling plate" dishes came up. Many of the Cantonese seafood restaurants in my neighborhood also offer sizzling plate dishes. Examples are beef with green onions, oyster with ginger and green onions, chicken with black bean sauce, etc.. When served, the waiter would bring out a hot iron plate on top of a wooden base and the cooked dish separately. Then in front of the customers, he would pour the beef/oyster/chicken dish on to the hot plate. Instantly some sauce would boil and vaporize, creating a puff of aromatic smoke which radiates out all around.

I am familiar with these sizzling plate dishes, but am puzzled at the origin of the "sizzling plate" style. Though they are served in many Cantonese restaurants, I am not convinced that this was a traditional Cantonese dish. For one thing, I had not seen these sizzling plates during the 20 some years that I lived in Hong Kong. Yes there were sizzling plates but they were only used in Hong Kong style western dishes - steaks with a black pepper sauce. The traditional Cantonese style cooking includes hot pots.

Are the sizzling plate dishes uniquely American-Cantonese? Does anybody know the origin of these dishes? How long ago do they date back?
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#58 torakris

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 03:36 PM

These are quite popular in Japan as well but mostly for western foods like steaks and hamburger patties.
I never really thought about where they came from.

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#59 Yuki

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 04:13 PM

I think the usage of sizzling dish was introduced by the HK style Western restaurant since a lot of those restaurant would serve their main course on those sizzling plates. Maybe a Chinese chef saw it and thought that he could use it in the kicthen, since HK is well known for combining other food cultures into their own.

Talking about HK style Western restaurant, I actually miss them even though a lot of them serve baking soda steak and canned soup :wink: . I miss the dishes like baked ox tongue with tomato sauce and spaghetti, braised oxtail, and the warm and soft bun with butter. I think a lot of HK people got their first taste of "Western" food through those restaurants and kids would brag to their friends about going to such restaurants. :smile:

I have never eaten any sizzing dishes at HK Cantonese restaurant although I think they do exist. Using a clay pot should have similar effects although the temperature might not be as high so there would not be much sizzling.

#60 Ben Hong

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 04:35 PM

When I was involved in our family restaurant in the very early 60s, it was one of the busiest restaurant of any type in New Brunswick. As such my first cousin, the head cook, was really interested in being a trendsetter. He saw or heard about the usage of sizzling platters when serving steaks. Wow! The news of this attractive flourish spread like wildfire and we sold more steaks over the next 6 months than we had ever sold before. (until copycats stole a bit of our thunder). Then my cousin got the bright idea to serve premium Chinese dishes in the sizzling platters...salt&pepper shrimp, beef kow, chicken & black beans, etc. Knocked them dead, he did.

Was he the first to use the sizzling platter for Chinese food (1964)?? Probably not. But he was first in Atlantic Canada.





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