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How to Make Great Chinese Food at Home: an Interview with Uncle Lim


Cantonese cuisine is often praised as one of the eight great regional cuisines of China - and for good reason. The Cantonese tend to place a focus on quality and freshness of ingredients, and unlike other regions, lean towards a 'less is more' approach to spices and heavy seasonings. All of this results in dishes that are elegant, balanced, and of course, extremely delicious.

Although complex dim sum making, wok-frying over incredibly hot flames and roasting whole pigs in underground bullet ovens is all part and parcel of the Cantonese chef repertoire, thankfully there are just as many dishes that can be cooked easily at home with simple methods.

Last month our very own Chong Yew (or as we know him ‘Uncle Lim’) sat down with Sheerlux magazine to offer recipes and advice on how to cook great Cantonese food at home. Read below for the full feature:


"There are seven ingredients that will allow you to make hundreds of Chinese dishes at home: garlic, ginger, spring onions (the base ingredients to many recipes), soy sauce, sesame oil, Chinese rice wine and corn flour. I also couldn’t live without a wok, rice cooker or a steaming basket.


One of my favourite recipes is Cantonese steamed fish, which you can make with any whole fish, like seabass. Layer your fish on top of thin slices of ginger and spring onions, and steam for 15-20 minutes. For a larger piece of fish, you can steam it in a wok with a steamer basket and lid. Meanwhile, make the sauce by mixing light soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar to your taste. Once the fish is cooked, place it on a serving platter, add extra slithers of ginger and spring onion, then heat a tablespoon of oil until smoking and pour over the fish to ‘cook’ them and release the aromas. Pour over the sauce and serve with steamed rice and veg.


To make easy dumplings at home, mince chicken or pork shoulder with a Chinese cleaver (or large knife) into very fine pieces. Combine with Chinese leaf, wood ear mushrooms, spring onions, fresh coriander, sesame oil, white pepper, sugar, light soy and corn starch. Take a sheet of dumpling pastry (readily available in Asian supermarkets), pop in a teaspoon of filling and fold into a half-moon shape, sealing with a little water. These can then be boiled or steamed to cook – or fried if you like them crispy.


Finally, there are three common mistakes to avoid in Chinese cooking: don’t overload your wok with ingredients, don’t stir fry with sesame oil (it should only be used at the end of the cooking process as a fragrant addition); and don’t rush the cooking of each ingredient in recipes, – make sure they release the fragrance.”

Discover Cantonese homecooking with Uncle Lim's tips.

06/03/24, 12:50

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