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Toysan Foods


hzrt8w
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Thanks Ben and Irwin to fill in some history of the Hong Kong food development. For those of us who were born in Hong Kong and grew up there, we kind of take things for granted as what's Hong Kong food (not to be confused with "Hong Kong foot" :laugh::laugh: ).

Hong Kong is a melting pot of immigrants, much like New York. We are filled with immigrants from Mainland China since the end of WWII. Because we are mostly Chinese, rarely does anyone give a second thought of questioning the origin of any dishes popular in Hong Kong. I personally presumed that everything (or most of it) originated from Guangzhou (old name "Canton").

Some puzzling questions, though. Perhaps you both can fill me in. Many residents in Hong Kong associate Guangzhou as the major city and all other smaller towns/villages as suburbs. Hong Kong originally was just a small village populated by fishermen. It has an excellent harbor, which attracted the British to take over as part of the Unfair treaty from the first Opium War. Is Toysan seen as a suburb of Guangzhou? Or it has its own identity which would claim its fame equally as Guangzhou? Is Toysan style cooking distinctly different from those that are of Guangzhou? If so, in what way?

I heard ham yu (salted fish) is used quite often in Ben and Dejah's meal. Where are these salted fish produced?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Thanks Ben and Irwin to fill in some history of the Hong Kong food development.  For those of us who were born in Hong Kong and grew up there, we kind of take things for granted as what's Hong Kong food (not to be confused with "Hong Kong foot"  :laugh:  :laugh: ).

Hong Kong is a melting pot of immigrants, much like New York.  We are filled with immigrants from Mainland China since the end of WWII.  Because we are mostly Chinese, rarely does anyone give a second thought of questioning the origin of any dishes popular in Hong Kong.  I personally presumed that everything (or most of it) originated from Guangzhou (old name "Canton").

Some puzzling questions, though.  Perhaps you both can fill me in.  Many residents in Hong Kong associate Guangzhou as the major city and all other smaller towns/villages as suburbs.  Hong Kong originally was just a small village populated by fishermen.  It has an excellent harbor, which attracted the British to take over as part of the Unfair treaty from the first Opium War.  Is Toysan seen as a suburb of Guangzhou?  Or it has its own identity which would claim its fame equally as Guangzhou?  Is Toysan style cooking distinctly different from those that are of Guangzhou?  If so, in what way?

I heard ham yu (salted fish) is used quite often in Ben and Dejah's meal.  Where are these salted fish produced?

Guess it's time for another surprise. The Lockhart Report prepared in 1898 informs that the populations located close to the Hong Kong area was composed of 3 main Chinese Groups: Puntis (64,000) Hakka (36,000) and the Tanka (not sure of population)

They lived in 423 Villages with populations ranging from 10 to 5000 residents. The Tanka's were Boat People and were difficult to count since they were at different locations seasonally or often at sea.

Most of these populations kept to themselves with the exception that they all cooperated together in two of the most important industries. The cultivation of Oysters for Sauce and export and the most important local business the Salting and Curing of Fish sent all over China.

It could be that based upon this information that the Toysan area and population were the most important producers of Salt Fish in China. My thoughts are that in my knowledge the most expensive Salt Fish being sold all originate in this specific area close to Hong Kong and the Pearl River delta.

The Lockhart Report mentions area and some communities but I only have some notes I took years ago in our investigation of foods surrounding Hong Kong.

So now we can surmise that the Toysan Salt Fish recipes are indeed traditional and well known in China. Since the area was ruled by authorities from Canton under the "Kowloon Mandarin" who was often a military general answering to Canton until British occupation it may have been considered a small area close to Canton. I wonder if the term "Toysan" may have become well known after the British occupation since it wasn't mentioned in the Lockhart Report, but the Villeges have what are now considered Toysan names.

Irwin

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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...Toisanese=Hakka?

No. Different. There are a few threads that talked about the origin of Hakka.

True, but then what is the influence of Hakka food in Toysan/Taishan or Cantonese cuisine ?

Hakka cuisine uses a lot of salted and preserved food in their cooking. Ingredients such as salted fish and preserved mustard green shows up in quite a few of the Cantonese dishes.

For example, one of hzrt8w’s dish Secret Salt Baked Chicken (秘制鹽焗雞) is a re-interpretation of the Hakka dish Salt baked chicken (東江鹽焗雞 ) and another dish Fried Fish Cake with Puff Tofu (煎酿豆腐浦) is similar to the idea of Yong tao foo/ stuffed tofu (酿豆腐).

I will think if one wants to market Toyson cuisine to people didn’t grow up on it, one will need to put it within the context of “Cantonese Food” for the general public.

So, how does Toysan food fit into the whole “Cantonese” cuisine? And for that matter, what is Cantonese Food anyway? Are we talking about the food from the city of Canton, or are we talking about food from the province of Guangdong?

Also, how do Chiuchow/Chaozhou/Teochew and Hakka influence the cuisine of Guangdong in addition to Canton and Toyson?

Hzrt8w, maybe another thread?

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  • 9 months later...

I am batching it for the next month or so during hunting season :cool::wacko: , so I will cook all sorts of what my wife calls "strange and smelly" things. I started off with a bang last night, or maybe it was a "sniff-sniff": Rendered fatback bits with hum ha steamed with ginger and a few bits of scallion, stir fried iceberg lettuce with black beans, potato soup with ribs and ja choy. :biggrin: I still have enough for lunch.

Edited by Ben Hong (log)
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Mr. Duck will eat stir-fried lettuce, but will not touch anything with hum ha, which he calls "stinky shrimp" sauce. He doesn't like steamed egg custard either. I always look forward to nights when he has to work late or is out with the boys. Some girls have a spa day when their loved ones are away--I make hum ha! :laugh:

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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I am batching it for the next month or so during hunting season :cool:  :wacko: , so I will cook all sorts of what my wife calls "strange and smelly" things. I started off with a bang last night, or maybe it was a "sniff-sniff": Rendered fatback bits with hum ha steamed with ginger and a few bits of scallion, stir fried iceberg lettuce with black beans, potato soup with ribs and ja choy:biggrin: I still have enough for lunch.

Oh Yum! You rendered the fat back so that it's "bubbled" and soft enough to absorb the ham ha. Mom and I were just talking about that on the weekend. We don't make it because it smells up the house, but we may have to give in and cook it once before things are closed up for the winter. Maybe I can use the burner on the BBQ...My neighbors may not be too happy tho'. :laugh:

I was able to find several bundles of Chinese chives yesterday, so we had tofu with loads of chives with beef on top. I loved the texture of the chives. Also cleaned up the leftover chicken/mushrooms/daylily and deep fried tofu that was braised in the sandpot. I threw in some lettuce to reheat in the oyster flavoured sauce.

Both of these are Toysanese comfort foods.

I've never had potato soup with prok ribs and ja choy. Deprived childhood? :unsure:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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For me Toysanese comfort food is my moms spare ribs in bean sauce (Min Sea Phai Koot in Toysan)served over a bed of blanched yau choy/ong choy.

another fave comfort food was Miced meat pie with black bean sauce (called Au Sea Chi Guk Piang in Toysan)...Yummmmmmm

Edited by warlockdilemma (log)
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Would "dow see ngoh yook fu gwa fan" been Toysanese comfort food? I love eating that when I'm blah or down. Oh man, now I have a craving for ham yee with ginger and rice. The thing about living in New York is that I've access to alot of great Chinese food without the need to cook.

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Would "dow see ngoh yook fu gwa fan" been Toysanese comfort food?  I love eating that when I'm blah or down.  Oh man, now I have a craving for ham yee with ginger and rice.  The thing about living in New York is that I've access to alot of great Chinese food without the need to cook.

Try dow see ngoh yook fu gwa ho fun. That's my favourite. :wub:

I've been trying to find min see sauce with whole beans. Nada. :sad: All I could find was sauce. I also need to buy some sour plums in brine. I usually steam min see shoon mui pai gwut, of course, over rice.

It's autumn and also soup time: Choy gon duck feet soup with waterchestnuts, foo juk ho see pork neck bone soup. Gota get my soup pot out!

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Hey Gastro Girl, long time no see.

I love fu gwa. You should try fu gwa "steam boats" sometime. My mother use to make it to entice me to learn to like fu gwa. Just hollowed out halves of the melon stuffed with fish paste and shrimp chunks, then steamed. I now make a little sauce by thickening the juices produced by the steaming process and adding a smidgen of black beans and garlic.

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[...]  The thing about living in New York is that I've access to alot of great Chinese food without the need to cook.

Does it include the home-style cooking?

I found that not too many restaurants offer the "homey" dishes like steamed pork with salty shrimp paste. Only far and between in a few. In Sacramento: absolutely no.

Maybe the thinking is... if everybody can make those dishes at home, why offer them in the restaurants?

The ones that I miss most is the rice cooked in clay pots. There is absolutely no Chinese restaurants (that I know of) in Sacramento that would offer it.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Hearing these many dishes mentioned, I got many flash backs from childhood memories. I grew up in Hong Kong. I am familiar with all the dishes mentioned, though the Toisanese pronounciations are foreign to me. As Cantonese dialect and Toisanese dialect, though similar, are not the same.

I sometimes wonder: where does the Toisanese cuisine ends when where does the Guangzhou-Cantonese cuisine begins? Or are we both just part of the same culinary culture in home-style cooking? Or that Hong Kong is full of descendants from Toisan?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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[...]  The thing about living in New York is that I've access to alot of great Chinese food without the need to cook.

Does it include the home-style cooking?

Yes, yes, I am alive. I am almost finished w/ my culinary school here in NYC. I'm up here doing things at a breakneck pace!

There are a few places that do some home-style cooking. Egg Custard King on Mott at Canal does the pork patty w/ salted fish over rice in clay pot that is EXCELLENT. Yum.

It's hard to cook the homestyle food without having to eat it for three days straight, lunch & dinner. I cannot seem to adjust the quantities to feed one person. Even when I cook for my friends, I end up cooking for like six to eight people.

I've had the fu gwa steam boats and they're yummiclious. You can tell you've come of age when you can eat fu gwa. I couldn't stand it when I was younger, ick.

What about the steamed egg custard with fun see? My mom does that - eggs, salted duck egg yolks, dried shrimp, lap cheong and fun see all steamed. Oh man. Now I wanna cook that...

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Hearing these many dishes mentioned, I got many flash backs from childhood memories.  I grew up in Hong Kong.  I am familiar with all the dishes mentioned, though the Toisanese pronounciations are foreign to me.  As Cantonese dialect and Toisanese dialect, though similar, are not the same.

I sometimes wonder:  where does the Toisanese cuisine ends when where does the Guangzhou-Cantonese cuisine begins?  Or are we both just part of the same culinary culture in home-style cooking?  Or that Hong Kong is full of descendants from Toisan?

If you recall the history of HK, it was only a small haven for a bunch of coastal pirates, until it was ceded to England to use as the opium transfer point into China. Commerce thrived and it of course attracted all sorts of people from the coastal regions of Fujian, Guangdong provinces. The Pearl Delta and surrounding regions, ie: Toysan supplied most of the in-migration. After the Japanese War, ie; WWII, and then the Communist takeover, another huge influx happened and Toysanese were again in the majority.

Scratch a "Hong Konger" and the probability is good that he find that his grandparents are Toysanese.

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I am making another dish from my childhood tonight, salt chicken in rice pot.

Every Chinese person has eaten "salted chicken", that is the cooked chicken is hacked into pieces and salted, as a method of preservation but it changes the taste significantly. My mother's other version is to salt raw chicken for a couple of days before use. The salting process changes the flesh into a very, very silky texture and the taste is divine.

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces (after rinsing), mix with some ginger and scallions, put on top of cooking rice at the boiling stage.

YUMMY!!

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The ones that I miss most is the rice cooked in clay pots.  There is absolutely no Chinese restaurants (that I know of) in Sacramento that would offer it.

Ah Leung, I'm not familiar with "rice cooked in clay pots" ... can you provide a recipe?

I assume the clay pot (sand pot?) is used to cook the rice slowly in a braising liquid -- would this be water or some form of master sauce? The issue, I would guess, is how to prevent slow cooked rice in liquid from turning into a form of congee ...

Regards,

JasonZ

JasonZ

Philadelphia, PA, USA and Sandwich, Kent, UK

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Ah Leung, I'm not familiar with "rice cooked in clay pots" ... can you provide a recipe?

I assume the clay pot (sand pot?) is used to cook the rice slowly in a braising liquid -- would this be water or some form of master sauce? The issue, I would guess, is how to prevent slow cooked rice in liquid from turning into a form of congee ...

Here is one:

Minced Beef Over Rice in Clay Pot (窩蛋免冶牛肉煲仔飯)

There is no braising liquid or master sauce involved. Simply, it is cooking white rice with some marinated meat (beef, pork, chicken, etc.) on top using a clay pot (sand pot). Cooking rice in a clay pot was a traditional way to cook rice before National popularized their electric cookers.

The key is in the meat marination and timing. You cannot cook too much meat in one setting (or too little). Usually you start cooking the rice first. When the rice grains start absorbing the water (before the grains turn dry), you lay the marinated meat on top and let it cook for 5 to 10 more minutes. When the rice is done, so is the ingredient on the top.

Examples of rice clay pot dishes:

- Salted fish with minced pork

- Chicken with black mushrooms and Lily buds

- Ground beef patty mixed with chopped water chestnuts

- Laap Cheung (Chinese sausage) with chicken or pork slices

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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