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An Introduction to Cantonese Cuisine Many of us have learned something about Chinese cooking by dining out at a Cantonese restaurant.Have you ever wondered what sets Cantonese cuisines apart from other Chinese cooking styles? What makes for the title “haute cuisine” of Chine? Cantonese cooks live in area with abundant rainfall and tropical climate and this is where they get their local ingredients. The Canton province of Guangdong is a major agricultural area while the Guangzhou city is located in a seaport on the Pearl River.Rice paddies and livestock farms are throughout these areas. Incorporating non-native ingredients with staple ones is a characteristic of many Cantonese cooks. Coconut milk, rice noodles and curry power are Thai and Indian ingredients yet you can also see these in many Cantonese dishes.’ Cantonese cooks emphasize on the preservation of a food’s natural flavor and Cantonese cuisine is known for this. Overcooking is a culinary sin of the highest order for a Cantonese chef and also to put too much seasoning in food. Cantonese cooks found it difficult to cook their native dishes when they migrated to foreign lands. The first immigrant to the West were mostly men who came from a place where the women did all the cooking. These immigrants had to adapt unfamiliar ingredients.
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A complete Cantonese kitchen always has a supply of oyster sauce which they make by boiling oysters with seasonings. Mushrooms makes up the primary ingredient of what is called a vegetarian oyster sauce. Some ingredients that figure prominently in Cantonese cuisine are the Chinese fermented black beans, also called salted black beans, and shrimp paste. A mixture of soybean paste with spices which is called Hoisin sauce is also a common ingredient in Cantonese cuisine.
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Cantonese cooking techniques are steaming and stir-frying.The healthy and least intrusive technique of steaming is popular with Cantonese cooks because of their emphasis on freshness.Stir-frying is an expertise of Cantonese cooks. Besides stir-fried and steamed foods, Cantonese also has roasts such as pork and duck. One of the favorite dim sum treats is a steamed bun filled with roast pork. Other typical Cantonese dishes include Beef with Oyster sauce and Steamed Chicken with Ginger Scallion Sauce. Other well known Cantonese dishes include Steamed sea bass, stir-fried garoupa, and Lobster Cantonese. One of the local delicacies is the shark’s fin soup. Curry chicken cooked by simmering chicken curry powder, and vegetable in coconut milk is influenced by Southeast Asian cuisine.Vegetable dishes are dependent on the availability during the season. Aside from freshness and quality, artistic presentation of food and garnishing is one thing that is very important to Cantonese cuisine.