In the eastern part of China’s Guangdong Province lies Chaoshan. Located along the coast, this area is famous for Teohew cuisine, an extension of Cantonese, which uses traditional cooking methods and local ingredients to preserve the region’s culinary heritage. Due to its location, Chaosan has been historically famous for its seafood. So when did beef make its way into this cuisine’s history?
The birth of these meatballs dates back to only a century ago. The Hakka people from the mountainous areas of Guangdong began to make meatballs as a helpful way to cook and store fresh meat which otherwise couldn’t be preserved for long. At the turn of the 19th century, when Shantou (a city within Chaoshan) opened as a port, the Hakka people began to sell their beef meatballs in riverside city streets.
The meatballs were exceptionally popular with the Chaoshan communities, and it’s rumored that they developed the springiness and flavor into what the meatballs are today. This is likely the origin of the intense tenderization process the meat goes through.