10 Special Yunnan Foods You Need to Try

Yunnan cuisine features a wide range of ingredients, and uses many ancient cooking wares and cooking methods as well as modern ones. Besides, Yunnan is a concentrated area of ethnic minorities, thus there is an abundance of ethnic minorities’ dishes. All these contribute to diverse Yunnan foods with various tastes. Here are 10 famous Yunnan dishes you need to try:

1. Steam Pot Chicken

Steam Pot Chicken
Steam Pot Chicken

Chinese Name: 汽锅鸡 qì guō jī
Flavor: salty and a little sweet
Cooking Method: steam, boil

Steam Pot Chicken is one of the best Yunnan food. It is steamed in a kind of ancient pottery pot produced in Jianshui. In the center of this pot, there is a small vertical tubal hole. The chicken pieces, sliced ginger, shallots, salt and other condiments are put into the pot, and covered the gap with gauze after putting on the lid. Then, steam the whole pot in a steamer. The steam travels through the central hole and changes into water when it touches the cold pot cover. The water drops into the pot and becomes chicken soup. It takes three to four hours to steam this dish.

The hen is to lay eggs or the cock will begin to crow for the first time are the best ingredient to cook Steam Pot Chicken. Since the chicken soup comes from the steam, very little of the chicken’s fresh flavor is lost. Some precious Chinese medicines growing in Yunnan could also be added to make different medical Steam Pot Chickens, such as Worm Grass Steam Pot Chicken, Pseudo-Ginseng Steam Pot Chicken, and Ginseng Steam Pot Chicken.

2. Tengchong Fried Rice-Flour Cake

Chinese Name: 大救驾 – 腾冲炒饵块 dà jiù jià – téng chōng chǎo ěr kuài
Flavor: salty and spicy
Cooking Method: pound, fry

Soak, steam and pound rice, then shape the rice into loafs to make the rice-flour cake, the specialty in Yunnan. Tengchong Fried Rice-Flour Cake is one of the famous Yunnan dishes. The sliced rice-flour cakes are stir-fried with ham, eggs, tomatoes and other seasonings. It tastes salty and spicy. The fried rice-flour cake can also be stewed in meat soup with Chinese sauerkraut, using salt and soy sauce to season.

Tengchong Fried Rice-Flour Cake is also called Da Jiu Jia, named from a story that happened in the early Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 AD). The last emperor of Southern Ming escaped to Yunnan, and a peasant treated him with Fried Rice-Flour Cake. The dish saved the emperor’s life for that moment, thus its name Da Jiu Jia, literally saving the emperor’s life.

3. Crossing the Bridge Noodles

Chinese Name: 过桥米线 guò qiáo mǐ xiàn
Flavor: salty and fresh, spicy
Cooking Method: quick-boil

According to traditional Yunnan food recipes, boiling soup is served with raw ingredients including rice noodles, sliced pork, sliced chicken, sliced mullet, shredded ginger, shredded shallots, shredded grass buds, pieces of magnolia, thin sheets of bean curd, and so on. After being served, one needs to put the ingredients into the boiling soup and let them boil for a few seconds. This way best preserves the freshness and tenderness of the ingredients.

See more: Yunnan Rice Noodles

4. Wild Mushroom Hot Pot

Chinese Name: 野生菌火锅 yě shēng jūn huǒ guō
Flavor: umami, salty, flesh mushroom flavor
Cooking Method: stew, boil

You can boil more than 30 local wild edible mushrooms in Wild Mushroom Hot Pot, which originated in Chuxiong, Yunnan. The most popular mushrooms are termite mushroom, matsutakes, and bamboo fungus, etc. These mushrooms can also be fried and served as side dishes if you like. The soup of the Wild Mushroom Hot Pot is stewed for over seven hours with several wild mushrooms as well as bones or chicken. There is also a special dipping sauce which is worth trying. It is fried with dried mushrooms and chili.

5. Braised Termite Mushroom

Braised Termite Mushroom
Braised Termite Mushroom

Chinese Name: 红烧鸡枞 hóng shāo jī zōng
Flavor: salty, sweet, mushroom flavor
Cooking Method: braise, boil

Termite mushroom, a spice, is a precious edible wild mushroom in Yunnan, and Braised Termite Mushroom is one of the best Yunnan dishes you must try. To achieve the best taste, the braising sauce must be boiled over high heat before adding the mushrooms. When braising termite mushrooms, rice wine is used instead of water. In addition, this Yunnan food nourishes the stomach and refreshes the mind.

6. Dali Earthen Pot Fish

Chinese Name: 大理砂锅鱼 dà lǐ shā guō yú
Flavor: salty
Cooking Method: stew

Dali Earthen Pot Fish is one of the best Yunnan dishes with a history of over one hundred years. To best preserve the original flavor of ingredients, the earthen pot should be made in the Xiangyun Village of Dali. The fish is a unique species that is found in Erhai Lake, such as carp or the Dali mountain barbel. The other ingredients include sliced chicken, winter mushrooms, squid, local ham, sea cucumbers and tendons.

7. Zhanyi Spicy Chicken

Chinese Name: 沾益辣子鸡 zhān yì là zi jī
Flavor: spicy, aromatic, crisp
Cooking Method: marinate, boil and fry

Zhanyi Spicy Chicken is another famous Yunnan dish, which has become a highlight of Zhanyi and Qujing. This Yunnan food recipe is made like this: first marinate the chicken in cooking wine with salt and ground pepper; then add garlic, ginger and chili and boil; then, the boiled chili is chopped; finally, all the treated ingredients are fried. Zhanyi Spicy Chicken is aromatic and spicy with a thick sauce and bright red color.

Zhanyi Spicy Chicken
Zhanyi Spicy Chicken
Xuanwei Ham
Xuanwei Ham

8. Xuanwei Ham

Chinese Name: 宣威火腿 xuān wēi huǒ tuǐ
Flavor: aromatic, salty
Cooking Method: marinate, cure

Xuanwei Ham is made in Xuanwei, and is one of the best Yunnan foods. With large amount pork that the bones are mostly removed, Xuanwei Ham is aromatic, especially when it is cut apart. The thin meat is red or rose red, and the fat parts are milk white. It is one of Yunnan food firstly export overseas and has been well-known in the world since the early 20th century. Its unique flavor is a result of the local climate; in other places you cannot make the same hams even with same methods. As a Yunnan specialty, it is also called Yun Ham. Xuanwei Ham is a frequent ingredient in Yunnan food recipes. It can be boiled, deep-fried, steamed, steamed with dairy cheese or eggs, or fried with green chili or dried bean curd. It can also be added into different dishes, such as rice dishes and soups.

9. Yiliang Roast Buck

Chinese Name: 宜良烤鸭 yí liáng kǎo yā
Flavor: salty, sweet
Cooking Method: roast in closed stove

Originating during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD), Yiliang Roast Duck has a history of more than 600 years. It is a distinctive traditional Yunnan food. It is made from the special Yiliang duck. With an oily bright red color and light aroma, the duck skin is crisp and the meat is tender. Yiliang Roast Duck can be eaten with spiced salt or sweet sauce, or it can be added into soups.

Yiliang Roast Buck
Yiliang Roast Buck
Flower Cake
Flower Cake

10. Flower Cake

Chinese Name: 鲜花饼 xiān huā bing
Flavor: sweet, light fragrance
Cooking Method: bake

Flower Cake is usually made from edible roses in Yunnan, together with ham, white sugar and flour. It is a distinctive pastry as well as one of best Yunnan food. Flower Cake tastes sweet with crispy crust, once was served as royal pastry. In addition to the main ingredients mentioned above, yulan magnolia, chrysanthemum, sesames, peanuts, semen juglandis and jujube paste can also be added into the stuffing.

You May Also Like:

Yunnan People
Top 10 Things to Do in Yunnan
In-depth Guide to Top 10 Yunnan Destinations

- Last updated on Apr. 12, 2021 -
Ask a Question
Question Summary (100 characters)
Details (optional) (2,000 characters)