Doris Jianping Li shows off a few examples of premade dishes such as breaded butterfly shrimp, braised golden pomfret, and snakehead fish fillets with sauerkraut during the tasting and exchange event. – Scarlett Liu/MetrolandScarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Dream of reducing the kitchen workload when coming home from busy work? A pre-made dish allows you to spend more time with your loved ones while enjoying appetizing food.

The China Guangdong Agricultural Products global tasting and exchange event, held on Sep. 29 in Markham, introduced the features and prospects of pre-made cuisine.

Doris Jianping Li, director of the North America Development Center of Chinese Premade Cuisine Industry, said that good food is the silent language that brings people together across ethnic and geographic differences.

Li still remembers when she was little, her father would seal the pomelo with a wax solution and keep it from the Mid-Autumn Festival until the Chinese New Year, which spans about four months.

But with the help of liquid nitrogen technology, keeping cooked food fresh for weeks or even months is now a breeze. Coupled with the complete cold chain transportation system, Chinese people from overseas could taste hometown delicacies at any time.

“No matter where we go, memories of food are memories of our loved ones and of that moment when we enjoyed it,” Li said.

Frozen meals originated in the U.S. and gradually became widely available in various countries with the popularization of refrigerators and microwaves.

Unlike traditional freezing methods, Li explains, the updated liquid nitrogen technology preserves nutritional benefits, flavours, and texture of every ingredient to ensure no quality is lost in freezing.

A major criticism of the harms of prepared food is that it may be infused with too many additives. Li disputed this statement, saying “dishes are in fact sprayed with liquid nitrogen and cooled quickly during preparation, rather than adding ‘magical ingredients’ after they’ve been cooked to keep them from spoiling.”

During the tasting event, Li demonstrated pre-made dishes such as crayfish, braised golden pomfret, chopped pepper fish head, and slices of no-battered blackened fish, which took less than a dozen minutes from unpacking to cooking and serving.

“All meals are hand-prepared by chefs back in Guangdong, then flash-frozen with nitrogen to lock in the flavour and freshness,” she said, reiterating that there are no artificial preservatives, fillers fixers, or added chemicals.

Markham local Canadian Cantonese chef He Guangyi backed Li’s view that many people misunderstand the prepared dishes due to the lack of understanding of the industry.

“Laymen think (pre-made food) are dishes cooked by amateur cooks and put in the refrigerator, and sell them the next day”, in contrast, he highly affirmed from a professional perspective that the Guangdong province’s pre-prepared dishes are unique and fresh.

Canada is the country with the highest requirements for food safety, he said. If the pre-prepared dishes can be imported here, it means there’s nothing to worry about because safety is a gatekeeper.

Another benefit of prepared dishes is they ensure the stability of the restaurant’s output, which prevents the quality of dishes from fluctuating due to changes in chefs, He added, “consistency is winning.”

Li is positive about the development opportunities of the prepared cuisine industry in the Canadian market as the prefabricated dishes would bring about a change in the entire restaurant industry, both to save the restaurant’s manpower and improve the efficiency of the meal.

“We will continue to promote co-operation between China and Canada in the field of agricultural and pre-made products, so as to provide more local multi-ethnic consumers in Canada with healthy, safe, and delicious food,” she said.

By Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Oct 23, 2023 at 13:40

This item reprinted with permission from   Markham Review   Unionville, Ontario
Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated