Like Europe, China has many different cuisines, from Chiu Chow to Sichuan, but Chinese seafood means Cantonese cuisine and Hong Kong. With more than 200 islands, Hong Kong is surrounded by water and Cantonese menus are often a long, long list of Nemo and his schoolmates. Rather than complicated dishes and recipes requiring cardamon from the banks of the Ganges and freshly ground chimichurra from the foothills of the Andes, Chinese seafood dishes rely on freshness, with just a few sauces and spices to enhance, rather than overpower the flavour of the seafood. Chilli, garlic and ginger are all popular additions to steamed or pan fried fish or shellfish, although more challenging creatures from the deep such as sea cucumbers and slugs also appear on menus.
As a result there are few set dish names in Chinese seafood, you simply pick a fish and then its steamed with spring onion, ginger or a handful of other flavours. There are however a couple of popular Chinese seafood dishes you should look out for, below are some of the best.
Typhoon Shelter Fried Crab – A volatile concoction of whole crab fried in minced garlic, chilli, spring onions and occasionally black beans.
Salt and Pepper Pissing Shrimp - Named because of their tendency to squirt water when picked up, the meat of these ferocious looking Mantis Shrimp is usually simply seasoned with salt and pepper and served with a few, sweet vegetables
Curried Fish Balls – The curtain closer on many a drunken night in Hong Kong, these smooth, meatball sized bites are Hong Kong’s answer to the hot dog.
Braised Abalone - Considered a delicacy, these sea snails are usually served soaked in a thick oyster and seafood gravy.
Fish Maw Soup - Probably not one to spring on a fussy eater, fish maw is the internal swim bladder of a fish. Its spongy texture has little taste when prepared correctly and instead soaks up the flavours of the ingredients its prepared with, such as spring onion and ginger. Fish maw is also said to put a spring in your step in the bedroom.
Razor Clams in Black Bean Sauce - These long, finger shaped clams are steamed, coated in minced, fried garlic and served with a dash of black bean sauce
Shark Fin Soup – The dish of choice for those seeing revenge on Jaws, Shark Fin soup is actually a naughty delicacy that has played havoc with the marine food chain. Prized for its price tag rather than its slip off the tongue flavour, it’s advisable to give it a miss.
Think we've missed something? Is there a classic Chinese sea food dish that should on the list? Tell us about it and read other reader suggestions.