Yunnan Food

Yunnan Food

Yunnan food features a wide range of ingredients and uses many traditional cooking wares and methods as well as modern ones to create the blend of the Han flavors with the flavors of the ethnic minorities. All these contribute to diverse Yunnan foods with various tastes. Here are ten famous Yunnan local specialties that should be tasted if you visit the region:

1. Cross Bridge Rice Noodle

The Cross bridge rice noodle, named after the legend, originated in Mengzi and has become a representative local food that can be tasted throughout Yunnan. Put the rice noodles, pork slices, chicken slices, mullet slices, grass sprouts, magnolia slices, tofu slices, pea tips, leeks into the boiling hot broth made of pork bones and local chicken and cook for a few seconds. This method can best maintain the freshness and tenderness of the ingredients. Both Jianxinyuan in Kunming and Baoxinglou in Jianshui are local restaurants famous for making Cross bridge rice noodles.

Cross bridge rice noodles

2. Wild Mushroom Hot Pot

Yunnan is a world-famous “wild mushroom kingdom” with 258 edible fungi, accounting for more than half of the world’s edible fungi. The 30 commonly used wild mushrooms can be cooked in the hot pot besides frying into dishes. The most popular mushrooms are Ganba fungus, matsutakes, and bamboo fungus, etc. The basic soup of the hot pot should be stewed for over seven hours with 7 kinds of dried wild mushrooms as well as bones, then put the fresh mushroom, vegetable, or chicken inside to boil, so the hot pot tastes very strong and fragrant. The locals like to match with the special dipping sauce to satisfy their spicy eating habits. Guanxing Road in Kunming is known as the street of the wild mushroom, where you can try the wild mushroom hot pot, and Shaxi is the first choice for tasting Matsutake.

mushroom hot pot

3. Yunnan Ham

Yunnan ham has a long history, and it can even be said to be the oldest cured ham place in the world. Cured ham in Europe was probably in the 2nd century BC, but there is no clear evidence. However, unearthed in Yunnan, there is a very obvious pickled pork leg in the ancient Dian Kingdom bronzes 2100 years ago. It takes at least 9 months for Yunnan ham to be cured from the beginning to maturity.
In Yunnan, there are many places producing ham, among which Xuanwei ham and Dali Nuodeng ham are the most well-known. Xuanwei ham has a long history. In 1915, it won the gold medal at the Panama Exposition and later received the inscription by Mr. Sun Yat-sen. Since then, Xuanwei ham has been well-known at home and abroad.
Nuodeng ham became famous because of “A Bite of China “. In ancient times, there were salt wells in the local area. Nuodeng salt was iodine-free and light. This is also an important reason for the moderate taste of Nuodeng ham. In such a unique geographical environment, the curing of Nuodeng ham needs to take three years.

Yunnan Ham

4. Steam Pot Chicken

Steam Pot Chicken is one of Yunnan’s famous dishes, and it has been spread among the people in southern Yunnan more than 2,000 years ago. Jianshui produces a unique pottery pot, and there is a small vertical tubal hole in the center of this pot, which is specially used for steaming food. The cooking methods are as follows: The chicken is cleaned and chopped into small pieces, put in a steam pot together with ginger, salt, shallots, and other condiments, and covered the pot, with gauze to block the gap to avoid steam leakage. Then, steam the whole pot in a steamer. After the water in the soup pot is boiled, the steam will gradually cook the chicken through the small vertical tubal hole (usually 3 to 4 hours). Because the broth is condensed from steam, the taste of the chicken is less lost during the steaming process, so its natural flavor is maintained, the chicken is tender, and the soup is clear and delicious.

steam pot chicken

5. Lijiang Pickled Ribs

Every winter, the Lijiang people kill the pigs and take the soft steaks to do the pickled ribs because there is more meat. After selection, people store the ribs in a large jar and sprinkle it with salt to evenly spread and pickle, cover it with gauze to keep it ventilated, and wait for a month or a month and a half to dry before eating. When the weather is cold, the locals can use the pickled ribs to do the hot pot! It is tastier to eat with Lijiang Baba ( local pancake). You can eat the most traditional and authentic Naxi dishes at Lijiang Yunxueli and Amayi Restaurants.

Lijiang Pickled Ribs

6. Roast Fish with Citronella Grass

Lemongrass grilled fish is a special dish of the Dai people. It has two characteristics: one is that the fish is sandwiched with locally grown green bamboo slices and grilled over an open flame, so it has the aroma of barbecue and the fragrance of bamboo; the other is that the dish uses the lemongrass and coriander in the tropical rain forest of Xishuangbanna, so with a peculiar scent of lemongrass.

roast fish 01

7. Yak Meet

The yak is the treasure for Tibetan because the meat is edible, the leather can be sewn into clothes, boots, bags, etc., the head can be processed into handicrafts, and the tail can be made into a broom for sweeping dust. Yaks grow in highland and eat many wild medicinal species such as Fritillaria, Cordyceps, etc, so their meat is very delicious and can be braised, stewed in clear soup, or yak jerky. If you visit Shangri-La, you could try the yak steak of Kamar Cafe restaurant and authentic Tibetan food in Akedunba.

Yak hot pot

8. Roast Bean Curd

Jianshui Roasted tofu is another representative of Yunnan food, and the method of making tofu has been around for 600 years. After the recommendation of “A Bite of China”, the Jianshui Roasted tofu became well-known all over the country. The unique feature of Jianshui tofu is to use deep well water to make tofu, which is different from all traditional methods of making tofu with plaster, so its aroma of soybeans is strong. After being roasted, the tofu is crispy and tender, and cannot stop eating.

roast tofu

9. Dry-baked Potato Shreds 

Dry-baked potato shreds are the most common and famous type of Yunnan potato dishes. The potato shreds are stir-fried into a thin round cake. It tastes crunchy and very fragrant.

fried potato

10. Rose Cake

Yunnan Flower Cake usually uses edible roses as filling, together with white sugar and flour. It is a distinctive pastry as well as one of unique Yunnan food. In addition to the main ingredients mentioned above, the osmanthus, chrysanthemum, peanuts, chestnut, and jujube paste can also be the stuffing.

flower cake

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