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chengb02

Cantonese Cooking & Traditions

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hzrt --

On those sizzling rice dishes -- forget the shrimp!  I go for the rice with the sauce on it. I'm not one for tomatos in Chinese cooking, and even the tomato sauce dishes are at the bottom of my list ---- but the dish you described does have a flavorable sauce.  Hugh Carpenter has a great Tomato Fireworks Shrimp dish that is wonderful over sizzling rice.

For sizzling rice, we served it as a soup. The sizzling rice is brought out hot on a hot plate. Along side is a bowl of very flavourful broth with choice of meat and vegetables. At the customer's table, we'd put the rice into a large bowl, then pour the soup onto the rice. Snap, crackle , pop! It's like fan jiew!

Our BBQ sauce for the hot plates was tomato based, with several other ingredients in it.

Must dig it out from my pile of stuff! It was best with chicken or shrimp, tomato wedges, green pepper, onion and pineapple chunks.

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I went to our favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch today and in looking over their evening menu, saw that they have Sizzling Iron Platters.

We often eat lunch out but I seldom go out to eat dinner so I had missed this.

They have Pork Chop, Prawn, Fish Filet, or Happy Family. Will have to give it a try soon. This is the first restaurant in a very rural area to offer these dishes or Salt and Pepper Squid and other squid dishes.


Edited by BarbaraY (log)

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I have observed that in recent years, there is another trend in place: mini-woks.

These woks, each is about 10 inches in diameter, are used to serve certain dishes. The food served is held in the mini-wok, and the mini-wok is set on top of a small fire provided by a methanol gel stove to keep the food warm.

Cute!

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I ordered this item all the time at a small, local Cantonese restaurant run by an elderly couple, Howard and Jennifer Liang. It was REALLY good. Unfortunately, they sold the restaurant about a year ago, and so far, my attempts to replicate the dish have not been particularly successful.

I miss these people so much. And Mr. Chiang was such a great cook. (I presume they retired.)

The ingredients are fried cubed bean curd, limas, rice, scallions, and hot chile flakes; it's the sauce I can't seem to get right.

Any suggestions? Anything at all?

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This reminds me of a dish my grandmother used to make. She used regular tofu and left out the heat (we were young kids then). Maybe try using chili paste instead of flakes. Are you using soy sauce or other seasonings? I'm not sure why this came to mind, but what about oyster sauce?

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This reminds me of a dish my grandmother used to make. She used regular tofu and left out the heat (we were young kids then). Maybe try using chili paste instead of flakes. Are you using soy sauce or other seasonings? I'm not sure why this came to mind, but what about oyster sauce?

Yep, I tried soy sauce--too one-note. Then I tried soy sauce/oyster sauce, and it was closer, but still...no Cantonese cigar. I think I might well have to forego duplicating it as Mr. Liang did it, but I intend to have fun trying!!

(I should also mention that I have a bunch of Wei-Chuan publications--still can't find it.)

I'd love to know what seasonings might be good for the combo of tofu, limas, and rice. How did your grandmother make it? (I go to a really great Asian market, so get as esoteric as you'd like with ingredients. )

All suggestions will be enthusiastically attempted! :biggrin: Thanks very very much!

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[...] I think I might well have to forego duplicating it as Mr. Liang did it, but I intend to have fun trying!!

Philanthrophobe: Welcome to eGullet!

You know... Liang is the same last name as Leung (mine). Liang is Mandarin pronounciation. Leung is Cantonese. I am a bit surprised that it was a Mr. Liang who made Cantonese food, not a Mr. Leung. :smile:

Can you describe the sauce a little more? I read spicy. But it can be many things. What is the color? Black? Brown? White? Purple? Red?

Black - it can be black bean sauce.

Brown (common) - it can be bean sauce, or oyster sauce, or hoisin sauce, or just soy sauce. Or a combination of these.

White - can be just chicken broth with corn starch.

Purple (I put that in just for kicks) - can be shrimp sauce.

Red - can be nam yu, (fermented red bean curd).

Any of these can be made "spicy" with addition of chili.

Did you taste any garlic, ginger, onion, green onion in the dish? Was there any other ingredients such as black mushrooms, water chestnuts, peanuts or other vegetables?

Bear in mind also that it could be Mr. Liang's one-of-a-kind creation too.

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Yep, I tried soy sauce--too one-note. Then I tried soy sauce/oyster sauce, and it was closer, but still...no Cantonese cigar. I think I might well have to forego duplicating it as Mr. Liang did it, but I intend to have fun trying!!

(I should also mention that I have a bunch of Wei-Chuan publications--still can't find it.)

I'd love to know what seasonings might be good for the combo of tofu, limas, and rice. How did your grandmother make it? (I go to a really great Asian market, so get as esoteric as you'd like with ingredients. )

All suggestions will be enthusiastically attempted!  :biggrin: Thanks very very much!

I can't remember exactly how she made it, it was almost 20 years ago now. My grandma wasn't into using a lot of different seasonings, so I suspect that she would have used so sauce and/or oyster sauce. She would most likely have used some sugar to balance the saltiness. Probably a corn starch slurry to thicken the sauce.

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You know... Liang is the same last name as Leung (mine).  Liang is Mandarin pronounciation.  Leung is Cantonese.  I am a bit surprised that it was a Mr. Liang who made Cantonese food, not a Mr. Leung.  :smile:

Can you describe the sauce a little more?  I read spicy.  But it can be many things.  What is the color?  Black?  Brown?  White?  Purple?  Red?

Black - it can be black bean sauce.

Brown (common) - it can be bean sauce, or oyster sauce, or hoisin sauce, or just soy sauce.  Or a combination of these.

White - can be just chicken broth with corn starch.

Purple (I put that in just for kicks) - can be shrimp sauce.

Red - can be nam yu, (fermented red bean curd).

Any of these can be made "spicy" with addition of chili.

Did you taste any garlic, ginger, onion, green onion in the dish?  Was there any other ingredients such as black mushrooms, water chestnuts, peanuts or other vegetables?

Bear in mind also that it could be Mr. Liang's one-of-a-kind creation too.

he

Thank you for the kind welcome! I love this site. I'm spending waaaaaaay too much time here...

Just for fun, here's a local newspaper article about the Liangs. And I'm curious: regarding the Leung/Liang difference, if they were Liangs elsewhere in China and moved to Canton to teach at the university, would they have kept the same spelling? --or would it have been more likely that they changed the name to Leung?

Back to the food: the sauce was brown and there was just enough to coat the tofu and limas. I remember tasting a bit of garlic, a bit of ginger, and scallions. I tasted no obvious sweet notes. It was was mildly salty but in a subtle, complex way that I couldn't figure out. The heat came from visible chile flakes. There were no peanuts and no other vegetables; just some finely julienned black mushrooms (I think he said they were tree ears).

Mr. Liang told me that this was a variation on something his grandmother in China used to make--this made me think that someone else might know of a similar dish.

The more I try to describe it, the more elusive this quest seems. Yeesh.

How about this: given these ingredients, what sort of condiments would you be inclined to use, and in what proportion?

Thanks!

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[...] And I'm curious: regarding the Leung/Liang difference, if they were Liangs elsewhere in China and moved to Canton to teach at the university, would they have kept the same spelling? --or would it have been more likely that they changed the name to Leung?

Back to the food: the sauce was brown and there was just enough to coat the tofu and limas. I remember tasting a bit of garlic, a bit of ginger, and scallions. I tasted no obvious sweet notes. It was was mildly salty but in a subtle, complex way that I couldn't figure out. The heat came from visible chile flakes. There were no peanuts and no other vegetables; just some finely julienned black mushrooms (I think he said they were tree ears).

Leung/Liang are the same in Chinese writing. In Singapore, my last name is spelled Leong. They probably don't need to pick which spelling while they are in China unless/until they go aboard to other countries.

The sauce you described seems very close to oyster sauce with chicken broth. I have featured that sauce in some of my pictorial recipes. Take a look at the one on Crab with Ginger and Green Onion.

The black mushrooms you described are called "wood ear fungi", a direct translation from their Chinese name.

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Back to the food: the sauce was brown and there was just enough to coat the tofu and limas. I remember tasting a bit of garlic, a bit of ginger, and scallions. I tasted no obvious sweet notes. It was was mildly salty but in a subtle, complex way that I couldn't figure out. The heat came from visible chile flakes. There were no peanuts and no other vegetables; just some finely julienned black mushrooms (I think he said they were tree ears).

Even though you couldn't taste any obvious sweet notes in the dish, I bet the dish contained tien men jian, sweet bean paste...

If you taste garlic, ginger and scallions, its "yu shang", or "fish-flavored". Ginger, scallions, garlic, sweet bean paste, and a little bit of toban jian (spicy bean paste)

Try this and see if it better replicates what you had...


Edited by stephenc (log)

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You guys are the freaking BEST!! I'll be trying all your suggestions and I'll be sure to let you know what results. --and if any other ideas strike you, let me know!

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Can some one enlighten me about making curry beef or curry chicken? Cantonese style? I don't know if there's a difference or not between other currys. I grew up eating my dad's curry chicken with potatoes and carrots but can never replicate it exactly. It always taste like something is missing. Any suggestions or recipes?

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Cantonese style curry? Never heard of that....In our (Cantonese) household, we make either Indian style curry or Thai style. Other than using the different style of curry powder/paste, I usually add extra cumin to the Indian curry and coconut milk to the Thai curry. As for vegetables, onion is a must, potato is a standard for both and carrot more for the Thai style.

Can you tell us what you put in the curry and maybe we can figure out what you may add to achieve the taste you want? I don't really go by a recipe when making curry, I just add stuff base on taste....

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I've never had Cantonese-style curry as a stew, but several recipes I have for other Cantonese-style curry dishes (curried chicken wings, curry filling for bao) call for a little bit of oyster sauce and ketchup in addition to curry powder. These might be the flavorings you're missing in your recipe.

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Do you know if he used regular supermarket style curry powder ---- of if he used one of the complex curry pastes? Big flavor differences.

Looking thru several books, I see that onions are sauteed with curry powder. When the dish is put together, a little dark soy is added along with chicken broth and a thickener.

Deh-Ta Hsiung mentions Chinese curry dishes usually contain potatoes, but said that they are usually omitted in Chinese restaurants and he doesn't include them in the recipe he gives. His recipe has marinated chicken, garlic, onions, curry, stock, dark soy and optional chili sauce.

Miller's "1000 Recipe" book has potatoes, but no soy. Just chicken, potatoes, oil, curry, water and salt.

Mai Leung's "Classic Chinese Cookbook" doesn't specify Cantonese (neither did the others) but she uses onions and potatoes AND a combo of curry powder and curry paste.

One last one from Lilah Kan's casserole book which uses onions, carrots, potatoes and celery. Thin soy sauce in this one as well as sherry, garlic, ginger, curry powder, chili powder, tomato paste and broth. It is a braised dish.

Any of them sound familiar?

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I grew up in Hong Kong. Many local restaurants serve curry dishes. I think I know what you mean by Cantonese curry. But there are many ways curry is made in Hong Kong too, depending on what kind of restaurant you walk into (the traditional Chinese (Cantonese) restaurants, or Hong Kong "Western" restaurants).

Typically, the traditional Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong would make curry like this:

Marinate the beef with soy, ground white pepper, ShaoHsing wine, corn starch and such. First velvet in oil til 50% cooked. As typical for Chinese stir-fries. Remove.

Heat up the wok at high temperature, add cooking oil, add minced garlic and wedged onion, then add curry powder (usually Madras kind), salt and chicken broth or a bit of water. Add cubed potato (need to be cooked separately first because potatoes take longer to cook). Bring the ingredients to a boil, add wedged green bell peppers and use corn starch to thicken the sauce. At last return the beef and mix with the ingredients.

For the curry in Hong Kong "Western" restaurants, then the curry recipes vary. Most would add coconut milk following the Southeast Asian style, or add lemon grass, lime juice and shallots following the Vietnamese style, or add shrimp paste, sa cha sauce, or other ingredients as well.

All these are very different, of course, from the Indian styles of curry.

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I grew up in Hong Kong.  Many local restaurants serve curry dishes.  I think I know what you mean by Cantonese curry.  But there are many ways curry is made in Hong Kong too, depending on what kind of restaurant you walk into (the traditional Chinese (Cantonese) restaurants, or Hong Kong "Western" restaurants).

Typically, the traditional Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong would make curry like this:

Marinate the beef with soy, ground white pepper, ShaoHsing wine, corn starch and such.  First velvet in oil til 50% cooked.  As typical for Chinese stir-fries.  Remove.

Heat up the wok at high temperature, add cooking oil, add minced garlic and wedged onion, then add curry powder (usually Madras kind), salt and chicken broth or a bit of water.  Add cubed potato (need to be cooked separately first because potatoes take longer to cook).  Bring the ingredients to a boil, add wedged green bell peppers and use corn starch to thicken the sauce.  At last return the beef and mix with the ingredients.

For the curry in Hong Kong "Western" restaurants, then the curry recipes vary.  Most would add coconut milk following the Southeast Asian style, or add lemon grass, lime juice and shallots following the Vietnamese style, or add shrimp paste, sa cha sauce, or other ingredients as well.

All these are very different, of course, from the Indian styles of curry.

Thank you so much, hzrt8w! Finally a recipe for curry chicken that I think will lead me to my personal favorite version of the dish!

There used to be a Chinese restaurant in Marietta, Ga called "Happy Family" and their Curry Chicken was to die for. No potatoes there, just lots of bell peppers and onions and water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. No breast meat either, just lots of cubed thigh meat!

I know they used Javin brand curry powder...but always wondered how they made the dish. I experimented with the powder at home but never even came close. The sauce was dark dark brown, not the typical yellowish stuff you find most places.

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Thank you so much, hzrt8w! Finally a recipe for curry chicken that I think will lead me to my personal favorite version of the dish!

[...]

Didn't know there is an interest in a Cantonese (Hong Kong) rendition of curry... it arose my interest... time to make this dish again and perhaps snap some pictures. :smile:

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One of my favorite things to order at the HK-Cantonese BBQ restaurants is curry beef stew over rice. Mmmmm.

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The types of "Curry Powder" utilized in most Chinese Restaurants in Hong Kong and the States are the types relatively inexpensive that contain larger proportions of "Yellow Ginger" (Turmeric) then the Indian variations.

Its milder, has a taste that adapts well to "Singapore Noodles" and other dishes served with variations of Curry sauces such as "Fishballs" or the very popular "Chicken Curry" offered by most Chinese Restaurants. Almost anyplace will prepare if requested a Beef, Shrimp or Pork Curry but the Chicken is most popular.

Irwin

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Have any of you used the curry pastes? There are so many choices. Different colors and different potencies.

Years ago, in a local place, there was one I absolutely loved, but when that little store closed I never found it anywhere else, and even forgot its name. I've never found a good replacement that measured up to its depth, without heat.

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Wow, I'm glad that I posted this question. And I thought it was going to be a small questions with a quick answer.

hzrt8w

Yeah, you know exactly what I'm talking about. When I was a little kid, my parents would take us to places in chinatown, nyc to get curry beef or chicken. It looks rather simple but really really good. It's pretty much chicken or beef swimming in a thick yellow curry sauce with potatos, onions (yeah, those are important, I totally forgot), and sometimes peppers or carrots. Finally my dad just started to make it for dinner once a month or so. He sort of did it in a different way. He used the standard indian yellow curry for his singapore noodles. It mainly consist of chicken, onions, potatoes, carrots with this thick sauce with a strong curry aroma. And I think he alway used flour and water to make it thick instead of using coconut milk. It always turned into a stew type dish. We literally poured the sauce with giant pieces of chicken and vegetable into our rice bowl turning into oa soupy mess. Numerous times I repeated/attempted it but never got it right. I will have tot ry your recipe. And yes, we want pictures!!!!!

Love this forum. Glad I joined. I have many more questions about cantonese cooking to bring back my childhood. :laugh:

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[...]

Love this forum. Glad I joined. I have many more questions about cantonese cooking to bring back my childhood. :laugh:

Oh yeah? Fire away! :biggrin: I for one am anxiously waiting... :laugh::laugh:

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      I just got a copy of Grace Young's "Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge"—I enjoyed cooking from "Breath of a Wok" and wanted to continue on that path. Does anyone else have this book? Have you cooked anything from it?

      Here was dinner tonight:

      Spicy Dry-Fried Beef (p. 70)

      I undercooked the beef just a bit due to a waning propane supply (I use an outdoor propane-powered wok burner), but there's nothing to complain about here. It's a relatively mild dish that lets the flavors of the ingredients (and the wok) speak. Overall I liked it, at will probably make it again (hopefully with a full tank of gas).


    • By liuzhou
      We are all used to unami now. Maybe it's time to consider gan. Particularly found in teas, but also in other foods. An interesting article from a great magazine.
       
      Going, going gan
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