10 Popular Hong Kong Winter Foods You Must Try
Which of these ten traditional Hong Kong winter dishes have you tried so far?
While Hong Kong is a city known for its international image and history, there is still plenty of local culture that is alive and well. Perhaps the easiest way to experience a true, authentic taste of Hong Kong is through its food. In this article, we’ll go over 10 of Hong Kong’s most famous, traditional and popular winter dishes. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, skip the turkey and order one of these alternatives for delivery instead!
Claypot Chicken Rice
Claypot chicken rice is popular in Hong Kong and Malaysia, and is definitely a winter classic in Hong Kong. The flavorful dish is kept warm by the heat retained by the clay pot and the rice at the bottom and sides of the pot often take on a scorched and chewy texture that blends perfectly with the rich dish within. Though chicken is the most popular, you can choose to have your claypot rice with a variety of meats. One thing is for sure, it’ll definitely keep you warm and full this winter.
It’s no secret that Hong Kongers love barbecues and barbecued foods. In winter, this local tradition gets taken up a notch as barbecued foods help satisfy people’s cravings for something savory and hot. Before social distancing restrictions were put in place, it would be common to find plenty of Hong Kong families gathered around country park barbecue sites, cooking up their favorite barbecued treats. Now, though, ordering in your favorite barbecued snacks is a far safer option.
In Hong Kong, mutton is believed to contain ‘warming’ properties that help to protect against cold weather. Though Hong Kong winters are rather tame in comparison to other parts of the world, on the odd day that the temperature does actually dip low enough to be cold, a dish of lamb stew could be just what you need! Usually, lamb stew is slow cooked with bean curd sheets, mushrooms, lettuce and other veggies until everything is nice and soft. The perfect complement to some hot lamb stew is a bowl of white rice.
Hotpot is a traditional winter dish in Hong Kong that helps stave away the cold. Boasting a large variety of broths to pick from, you can satisfy your craving for all things hot, sweet and spicy all at once. Pick from a large selection of vegetables and meats that you dip into your broth of choice for a healthy and nutritious meal that can be shared with close friends and family.
Congee (or jook in Hong Kong) is a staple dish throughout the year, but is extra popular in winter because of its hot, watery flavor and texture. Akin to a thick rice soup, Hong Kong congee is made a variety of ways including plain or with cooked with meat and dried seafood to give it a subtle umami flavor. The most popular types of congee include fish congee, abalone chicken congee and congee with pork and century eggs. Additional ingredients like fried bread sticks can be added to congee for extra flavor and texture.
As the name suggests, winter tonic is designed to provide the necessary nutrition required for the body to thrive in the winter. In Chinese culture, it is believed that spring and summer are periods of growth while fall and winter are periods to rest up and restore energy. This is why winter tonic contains natural ingredients like ginseng, cordyceps mushrooms, herbs, and more. The medicine-like tonic is said to improve the immune system and boost health.
Poon Choi is a prominent Cantonese dish that’s usually consumed during the winter months and festival periods. Poon Choi translates as “big bowl feast", "basin cuisine" or "Chinese casserole". The name is indicative of the dish as a variety of different ingredients are layered and served in a large bowl for consumption. Dating back to the Song Dynasty, Poon Choi can contain any of the following ingredients: pork, beef, lamb, chicken, duck, abalone, ginseng, fish maw, prawn, crab, dried mushroom, fishballs, squid, dried eel, dried shrimp, pigskin, bean curd and Chinese white radish.
Hot Soya Beancurd
As far as Hong Kong snacks and desserts go, it doesn’t get more classic than a bowl of hot soya beancurd. With a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture and a rich, sweet flavor, this is the perfect treat to warm the body (and the soul). Topped with a good measure of brown sugar, this delicious Hong Kong snack is definitely not one to miss during the winter months.
Hot sweet soup (walnut and red bean)
It’s no secret that on a chilly winter’s day, Hong Kongers thoroughly enjoy a sweet, warm soupy snack/dessert. For this entry, we’ve combined hot red bean soup and hot walnut soup - each definitely worth a try. Walnut soup was once a favorite treat among royalty because of its health and nutritional properties. Rich and creamy, walnut soup has the texture of a milky dessert without the use of any dairy. On the flip side, red bean soup is far more chunky and rustic. It’s a dish that anyone can make, but few can truly master. It’s definitely best to try red bean soup in Hong Kong where you’ll find some places adding modern twists like ice cream and glutinous rice balls to the mix.
Roasted sweet potatoes and chestnuts
Though it’s a little tougher to find these days, the street vendors that sell roasted sweet potatoes and chestnuts from their signature smoky carts are the caretakers of a dying legacy. If you are lucky enough to come across this rare snack, do yourself a favor and buy a bag or two. The sweet, yet savory flavor is truly unique and is a hallmark of Hong Kong winter food culture.
Hot Vitasoy soya milk
As a special bonus, you may see schoolkids and the occasional nostalgic adult holding a warm, glass bottle of Vitasoy soya milk during the wintertime. Often drank through a straw, this drink practically defined the childhood of many Hong Kong locals and is still served hot and fresh in most Hong Kong convenient stores.