Teochew cuisine

Teochew cuisine

Chiuchow cuisine, Teochew cuisine or Chaozhou cuisine or Chaoshan cuisine (Chinese: 潮州菜) originates from the Chaoshan region of China in the north-easternmost area of the Guangdong province, which includes the cities of Chaozhou, Shantou and Jieyang. The cuisine of Teochew bears more similarities to that of Fujian cuisine, to which it shares same dishes, which may be due to Chaoshan and Fujian's cultural and language similarities and geographic proximity.[1] However, Chiuchow cuisine is also influenced by Cantonese cuisine in its style and technique.[1]



Teochew cuisine is particularly well known for its seafood and vegetarian dishes and is commonly regarded as being healthy. Its use of flavouring is much less heavy-handed than most other Chinese cuisines and depends much on the freshness and quality of the ingredients for taste and flavour. As a delicate cuisine, oil is not often used in large quantities and there is a relatively heavy emphasis on poaching, steaming and braising, as well as the common Chinese method of stir-frying. Chaozhou cuisine is also known for serving rice soup (潮州糜 or mue), in addition to steamed rice or noodles with meals. The Teochew mue is rather different from the Cantonese counterpart, the former being very watery with the rice sitting loosely at the bottom of the bowl.

Authentic Teochew restaurants serve very strong Oolong tea called Tieguanyin in very tiny cups before and after the meal. Presented as Gongfu cha, the tea has a thickly bittersweet taste, colloquially known as gam gam (甘甘).

A condiment that is commonly associated with Teochew cuisine is Shacha sauce (沙茶酱). This popular paste is also used in Fujian and Taiwanese cuisine. It is made from soybean oil, garlic, shallots, chilis, brill fish, and dried shrimp. The paste has a savory and slightly spicy taste. As an ingredient, it has multiple uses:

  • as a base for soups
  • as a rub for barbecued meats
  • as a seasoning for stir fry dishes
  • as a component for dipping sauces, for example as used in hot pot meals

In addition to soy sauce (widely used in all Chinese cuisines), Teochew cuisine is one of the few regional Chinese that makes use of fish sauce due to Chaoshan's coastal land. It is used as a flavoring agent (for e.g. in soup), rather than a dip. As an ingredient, peanuts are a relatively prominent feature in this cuisine; used both in savory dishes and desserts. They can be boiled, fried, roasted, crushed, grounded or even turned into a paste. Peanuts can be used as a garnish or feature in soups, amongst others.

Teochew chefs often use a special stock called Superior broth (上湯). This stock remains on the stove and is continuously replenished. Portrayed in popular media, some Hong Kong chefs allegedly use the same shang tang that is preserved for decades. This stock can as well be seen on Chaozhou TV's cooking programmes of today.

There is a notable feast in Teochew cuisine / banquet called "jiat dot" (食桌) which literally means "food table". A myriad dishes are often served, which include shark fins soup, bird's nest soup, lobster, steamed fish and braised goose.

Teochew chefs pride themselves in their skills of vegetable carving, and carved vegetables are used as garnishes on cold dishes and on the banquet table.

Teochew cuisine is also known for a late night dinner known as "meh siao" (夜宵) locally, or "da lang" (打冷) among the Cantonese. Teochew people enjoy eating out in restaurants or at roadside food stalls close to midnight before they go to bed. Some dai pai dong-like restaurants stay open till dawn.

Unlike the typical menu selections of many other Chinese cuisines, Teochew restaurant menus often have a dessert section.

Many people of Chaoshan origin, also known as Teochiu or Teochew people, have settled in Southeast Asia during the Chinese Diaspora, especially Singapore and Thailand; influences they bring can be noted in the cuisine of Singapore and that of other settlements. A large number of Teochew people have also settled in Taiwan, evident in Taiwanese cuisine.[citation needed]

Notable dishes

Some notable Chaozhou dishes include:

English Hanzi Teo Chew transliteration Description
Braised Varieties 卤味 Lou Be Teochews are notable for their variety of braised food, which includes Geese, Duck, Pork, Beancurd, and Offary.
Teo Chew style steamed fish 潮州蒸鲳鱼 Teo Chew Chue Chioh Her
Pork Jelly 猪脚冻 Ter Ka Dang Braised pig's leg made into jelly form, sliced and served cold.
Steamed goose 炊鵝 Chue Gho Steamed goose
Chao Zhou chicken 潮州鸡 Teo Chew Koi A dish of sliced
Oyster omelette 蠔烙 Or Lua This dish is actually a kind of omelette which is cooked with fresh raw oysters.
Salted Vegetable Duck Soup 咸菜鸭汤 Kiam Cai Ak Terng A soup boiled with duck, preserved salted vegetable, tomatoes and preserved sour plum.
Pig's Organ Soup 猪杂汤 Ter Zap Terng (zhūzátāng)
Herbal Pork Ribs Tea/Soup 肉骨茶 Bak kut teh A hearty soup that, at its simplest, consists of meaty pork ribs in a complex broth of herbs and spices (including star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, fennel seeds and garlic), boiled together with pork bones for hours. Dark and light soy sauce may also be added to the soup during the cooking stages. Some Teochew families like to add extra Chinese herbs such as yu zhu (rhizome of Solomon's Seal) and ju zhi (buckthorn fruit) for a sweeter, slightly stronger flavored soup. These herbs are known to be health-giving. The dish is usually eaten with rice or noodles (sometimes as a noodle soup), and often served with youtiao (Chinese fried dough sticks). Garnshings include chopped coriander or green onions and a sprinkling of fried shallots. A variation of "bak kut teh" uses chicken instead of pork, which then becomes "chik kut teh". "Bak kut teh" is particularly popular in South East Asia countries like Singapore and Malaysia (famous in the town of Klang) where it was brought over with the Chinese diaspora.
Teochew chicken rice 潮州雞飯 A dish with sauce-soaked chicken slices serving invented by a Singaporean hawker, available in many hawker centres. It is very common in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore as well as Malaysia.
Teochew Hot pot/Steam Boat 潮州火锅 Zuang Lou A dish whereby fresh, thinly sliced ingredients are placed into a simmering flavorful broth to cook and then dipped into various mixed sauces, usually with Shacha and soy sauce as its main components. Ingredients often include leafy vegetables, yam, tofu, pomfret and other seafood, beef balls, fish balls, pork balls, mushrooms and Chinese noodles, amongst others. Teochew hot pot, like other Chinese hot pots, is served in a large communal metal pot at the center of the dining table.
Prawn Spring roll Minced Meat Spring Roll varieties 虾卷 烧卷 五香 Heh Gerng, Sio Gerng / Ngoh Hiang Mixed pork and prawn paste (sometimes fish), seasoned with five-spice powder, wrapped and rolled in a beancurd skin and deep-fried or pan-fried. It is sometimes referred to as Teo Chew style spring roll in restaurant menus.|-
Yee sang 鱼生 Her Sae A lavish raw fish salad where typical ingredients include: fresh salmon, white radish, carrot, red pepper (capsicum), ginger, kaffir lime leaves, Chinese parsley, chopped peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, Chinese shrimp crackers or fried dried shrimp and five spice powder, with the dressing primarily made from plum sauce. It is customarily served as an appetizer to raise 'good luck' for the new year and is usually eaten on Renri, the seventh day of Chinese New Year. This delicacy is known to exist as far back as the Southern Song Dynasty, the original version consisting of a simple salad of raw and julienned vegetables, dressed in condiments. The modern version which is widely known today, was developed by a master chef in Lai Wah Restaurant in Singapore during the 1960s.
Cold crab 潮州凍蟹 Teo Chew Ngang Hoi The whole crab is first steamed then served chilled. The species of crab most commonly used is Charybdis cruciata of the genus Charybdis.
Fishball, Fish Cake, Fish Dumpling 鱼丸 鱼粿 鱼饺 Her Ee, Her Kuey, Her Kiaw These fish paste made in balls, cake and dumpling can be cooked in many ways but are often served in Teo Chew style noodle and soups.
Fishball noodle soup 鱼丸面 Her Ee Mee Any of several kinds of egg and rice noodles may be served either in a light fish-flavoured broth or "dry" with the soup on the side with fish balls, fishcakes, beansprouts and lettuce.
Thin/Flat noodles 面薄 Mee pok A popular noodle dish served with minced pork, braised mushrooms, fish balls, dumplings, sauce and other garnishings.
Flat rice noodles 粿汁 Kueh Jarp A dish of flat, broad rice sheets in a soup made from dark soy sauce served with pig offal, braised duck meat, various kinds of beancurd, preserved salted vegetables and braised hard-boiled eggs.
Teochew rice noodle soup 潮州粿條 Kuay Teow Terng A quintessential Teochew-style noodle soup that is also particularly popular in Vietnam and Cambodia (known respectively as "hu tieu" and "kuy teav"), through the influx of Teochew immigrants. It is a dish of yellow egg noodles and thin rice noodles served in a delicate, fragrant soup with meatballs, other various meats, seafood (such as shrimp), fried fish cake slices (炸魚片), quail eggs, blanched Chinese cabbage and sometimes even offal. The soup base is typically made of pork and/or chicken bones and dried squid. Just before serving, the noodle soup is garnished with fried minced garlic, fried shallots, thinly sliced scallions and fresh cilantro (coriander) sprigs. For those who enjoy their noodle soup with added depth, the solid ingredients may be dipped into Shacha sauce or Chiu Chow chili oil.
Chao Zhou style Congee Teo Chew Mue A rice soup that has a more watery consistency than its Cantonese cousin. It is commonly served with various salty accompaniments such as salted vegetables (kiam chai), preserved radish (chai por), boiled salted duck eggs, fried salted fish and fried peanuts.
Yam dessert 芋泥 Ou Ni Yams are steamed, mashed and then sweetened to form the dessert which resembles yam dough. It is often served with gingko seeds. This dessert contains fried onion oil to give it a nice fragrance.
White radish cake 菜头粿 Chai Tao Kueh A savoury fried 'cake', made of white radish and rice flour. It is a popular dim sum commonly stir fried with soy sauce, eggs, garlic, spring onion and occasionally dried shrimp.
Steamed dumpling 粉餜 Hung Gue This is usually filled with dried radish, garlic chives, ground pork, dried shrimp, Shiitake mushrooms and peanuts. The dumpling wrapper is made from a mixture of flour or plant starches mixed together with water. In Cantonese, these are called 'Chew Zhao Fun Guo' (潮州粉果), where the character used is 'fruit' (果) instead of 'dumpling' (餜).
Steamed chives dumplings 韭菜餜 Gu Chai Gue They are sometimes sauteed to give it a crispy texture.
Crystal balls 水晶包 Zhui Jia Bao A steamed dessert with a variety of fillings such as yellow milk (奶黃) (Ni Ng), yam paste (芋泥) (Ou Ni) or bean paste (荳沙) made from mung beans or red beans. They are similar to the Japanese mochi.
Rice Cake with Salted Raddish 水粿 Chwee Kueh Cup shaped steamed rice flour cakes topped with chopped preserved/salted radish.
Oolong Tea 乌龙茶 Ou Leeng Teh Iron Guan Yin Goddess (鐵觀音) (Ti Guan Yim) is one the many renowned Teo Chew Tea. However, Chao Zhou people prefer their own Oolong tea which is the 'Single Phoenix Flying' tea (鳳凰單丛茶) (Hong Wang Dan Cong Teh).



  1. ^ a b Chang, Kwang-chih (1977), Food in Chinese culture : anthropological and historical perspectives, Yale University Press 

See also

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