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Fried Cantonese

Dear Mr. Gold:

Traditional Cantonese cuisine doesn't do much deep-frying, right? I mean, crispy-fried chicken with oyster sauce isn't exactly typical. I'm way more familiar with Northern Chinese food, since I lived in Beijing for a while, but it seems to me that Cantonese food is more about stir-frying and steaming and such.

—Matt, Glendale

Dear Matt:

While Cantonese chefs are the acknowledged masters of the quick stir-fry, deep-frying is definitely part of the Cantonese canon, especially in the Chiu Chow region. Banquets typically will include at least one deep-fried dish, whether crab or shrimp balls, marinated pigeon, "salt-baked" shrimp, oysters or crab. Half of what you see on a dim sum cart is deep-fried. Deep-fried tofu stuffed with shrimp is a standard. Cantonese-style fried chicken, with skin as crisp and delicate as spun sugar, used to be my favorite dish at the old Mission 562 in San Gabriel, although I have no idea whether it made it onto the menu of the restaurant's latest incarnation — its salty, pungent, bright-red fermented–bean curd dip was pretty awesome, too. Rice-porridge breakfasts always include yu tai, those twisted, unsweetened crullers, although lately I have to admit that I've been grooving on the crullers at the Taiwanese Yung Ho Tou Chang in San Gabriel instead.

Looking for something deep-fried? Try the salt-pepper calamari at the perpetually crowded Gourmet Island.

GOURMET ISLAND: 203 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra. (626) 282-2668

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Gourmet Island

203 W. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91801-5053

626-282-2668


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