Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cantonese Banquet Part 1 of 3 - 2010 Pacific Peaks Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

An authentic Cantonese banquet dinner, which typically consists of no fewer than 12 dishes, is served in family style for major celebratory events such as wedding, family reunion, Chinese New Year or fund-raising for charities.  Depending on the host's budget and eagerness to impress their guests, the price tag for both alcoholic beverage and food per guest (usually between 10 and 12 guests per table) that is charged by the restaurant varies from $50 to $200. Just like everything else, different grades of ingredients used in the banquet drive the price disparity.  

The banquet dishes that are introduced here are priced at the lower-end, averaging $75 per guest. The sequence of the dishes - appetizers, entrees and dessert, should not be strictly applied to the banquet dinner, as you may find a bit heavier dishes served up-front and carb-loaded dishes (e.g., rice and noodles) served last.  

Part 1 Appetizers (Three Dishes) -  
Serve 2010 - Pacific Peaks Pinot Noir (Priced at approximately $18)


  • Fresh fruit medley and bacon salad
  • Chinese BBQ platter
  • Stir-fried celery with razor clams and shrimps
  • Glanced stir-fried mushroom and bok-choy
  • Julienne chicken, white asparagus and scallop soup
  • Stewed sliced abalone with boneless goose feet 
  • Steam fresh whole sea grouper
  • Poach fresh whole chicken in aromatic broth
Dessert - Finale
  • Happy family fried rice
  • Shrimp dumplings with Cantonese noodle in shrimp broth
  • Sweet red bean soup desert 
  • Seasonal fruit
Fresh fruit medley and bacon salad
This doesn't sound like a typical Chinese appetizer.  However, Cantonese dishes are famous for being creative and versatile, and often are "fusioned" with other cuisines.  For this salad, a Japanese mayonnaise, a lighter version of the American counterpart, was used to lightly coat the chopped pears, peaches and apples.  Garnished with tomato and boiled egg slices, as well as bacon pieces, this salad is light, salty, crunchy but without crowding your palate.

Chinese BBQ platter
Restaurant patrons often see Cantonese BBQ prominently displayed through the restaurant windows in Chinatown.  This BBQ dish has slices of roasted whole piglet with crispy skin, duck and pork tenderloin, nicely garnished with soya and sesame oil coated seaweed stripes. The family style allows you to taste a piece or two of each type of meat and leave amble room for more dishes to come. Also, the hanging roasting method used in Cantonese BBQ drips all the fat and grease off the meat, making it healthier.  

Stir-fried celery with razor clams and shrimps OK, I'll not call it a complete Cantonese banquet dinner without a few seafood dishes, lovely complemented with the stir-fried cooking in cast-iron woks. Razor clams and shrimps were first lightly coated with a bit cornstarch, which was mixed with water to allow for smooth mouth feel, and lightly quick fried in oil.  The quick stir-fry technique, renowned in Cantonese cooking,  distributes the heat evenly to cook the celery, razor clams and shrimps, allowing the "wok-chi" to come through.  "Wok-chi" is the unique aroma and golden brown color on the food resulting from high-heat, quick stir-fry.

Why this wine?
2010 Pacific Peaks Cellars Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is ripe yet elegant, medium bodied, smooth tannin, and infused with raspberry and wild flower notes, and perfectly complements versatile appetizers.  This wine is raised in French barrels for 10 months which lends a roundness to the wine without overly oaky.  Retailed at approximately $18, this valued Pinot Noir exhibits the flexibility to handle the meats and shellfish.   
Pacific Peaks Pinot Noir 2010

    This is all I have for today.  Look out for the PART 2 and 3 of Cantonese Banquet.

    Remember, life is too short not to drink wine with Chinese food!

    Pinny Tam