Houston Asian Restaurant Guide > Chinese Food Articles > Chinese Cuisines > Chaozhou Cuisine
Chaozhou is the name of a coastal region around the Shantou district of eastern Guangdong Province. One of the major schools in Guangdong cuisine, Chaozhou cuisine originated from Chaoshan Plain about one thousand years ago. Naturally, as a fishing area, seafood features prominently in Chaozhou cuisine, which is often enhanced by piquant sauces, such as tangerine jam for steamed lobsters and broad-bean paste for fish. The mouthwatering prawns, oysters, crabs and eels, combined with home-made pickles, play a symphony of traditional Chinese cuisine and leave people with everlasting impression. Such richly flavored dishes reflect the culinary influence of the Chaozhou people's northeastern neighbors, the Fujianese.
Yet Chaozhou cuisine has also been greatly influenced by its southwestern neighbors, the Cantonese. Many Chaozhou classic dishes are light and tasty, with the abundant use of vegetables. The crisp delicacy of deep-fried leaf vegetables in Chaozhou dishes adds a gleaming green, edible garnish to many dishes.
Chaozhou cuisine stresses unique combinations of various soy sauces and flavorings: salty, sweet, sour, spicy, or astringent. Fish sauce and oyster sauce are favorite seasonings. Chaozhou dishes are usually cooked over a slow fire, stewed, deep fired, steamed, stir-fried or pickled. The dishes boast the skill of local chefs in vegetable carving. Magnificent designs -- flowers, birds, dragons and phoenixes made from carrots and gingers -- adorn Chaozhou banquets, especially the cold dishes. The tasty dishes are not only yummy but also presentable.
The region's chefs are also acknowledged masters in the preparation and cooking of two delicacies, namely, shark's fin and bird's nest. Chaozhou cuisine is famous, too, for its shellfish dishes and wide variety of sweet dishes (with pumpkin and taro).
Other famous dishes include salt-baked goose with vinegar juice, steamed shrimp with orange juice, black-bean chicken, vegetarian soup and crabs. A tea ceremony is held during the serving of dishes, not just for performance but also to aid digestion.