South China's food touches the heart

Updated: 2016-01-22 08:40

(China Daily Europe)

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Usually, the tea is black pu'er, an aged fermented tea from Yunnan province that is reputed to dissolve the oils and improve digestion. That modern science has proved it has anti-cholesterol abilities only confirms the wisdom of China's southern gourmets.

Another popular choice is jasmine-scented green tea, or xiangpian, picked for its appetizing floral fragrance.

In southern China, no one goes hungry for long. Breakfast can start in the hours before sunrise, with late morning tea followed by lunch, an afternoon snack, the evening meal and, finally, supper.

Every meal has its own special array of things to eat.

Dishes you have to try:

Barbecued meats

A mixed platter of roast meats is the Cantonese idea of heaven on the table. It may include a skinny fillet of pork marinated in honey and maltose and roasted until the crust becomes crisp with a syrupy coat. Then, it should have a portion of duck or goose, with the characteristic red skin and gamey flesh. It should be topped by a slab of pork belly, its skin roasted to a perfectly puffed crackle.

Wanton noodles

This has nothing to do with loose morals; it is the name of a noodle dish that comes with dumplings so light you feel as if you've "swallowed a cloud". The wheat noodles are specially pressed with an enormous bamboo pole and give new meaning to al dente. The dumplings are shaped like swallows and stuffed with minced pork and prawns. The broth is flavored with a dried flatfish that is toasted and crushed before it is simmered in chicken stock.

Dim sum

If you have a Chinatown nearby, you need no introduction. But truly, you need to experience yum cha in Guangdong or Hong Kong to get the full impact of this delightful indulgence. Most popular dishes to order: shrimp dumplings (xiajiao), meat dumplings (shaomai), barbecued pork buns (chashao bao), chicken feet in bean sauce, beef balls flavored with citrus and cilantro (xiangxi niurou), and steamed rice rolls (changfen).

Next week: Culinary journey to the spicy west

( China Daily European Weekly 01/22/2016 page20)

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