Eat like a local: Yunnan

One of China’s most popular tourist destinations, Yunnan is famous for pu’er tea, herbs and mushrooms. Yunnan cuisine has come into its own as gourmets discover the pleasures of the many mushrooms from its mountains, including matsutake, termite mushroom, chanterelles, boletus and even the black truffle, all in season from July to October.

Yunnan is home to China’s largest fresh-flower market, and besides cut stems it is known for its edible blossoms, mainly roses and jasmine. Other edible flowers including honeysuckle used in omelets, while banana buds can be made into a salad.

Many of the local dishes reflect the influence of the ethnic tribes. Rushan, literally milk fan, is a deep-fried milk curd sheet that is very typical of the Bai ethnic group. Mushrooms wrapped and steamed in banana leaves originates from the Dai people in Xi¬shuangbanna.

Other offerings reflect the cultural heritage of Yunnan. Over the Bridge Noodles, guoqiao mixian, which is also my personal favouriate food in Yunan, is a very theatrical dish that is assembled at table with a flourish. Little platters of thinly sliced raw chicken, pork and fish, mushrooms, herbs and vegetables are placed on the table. A boiling hot bowl of chicken broth is brought in to be poured over rice noodles. The contents of the assorted platters are quickly tipped in as well.

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Another popular chicken dish is the steamed chicken in a special funneled clay pot, qiguoji. Chopped chicken is placed directly into the pot and the whole container steamed, covered tightly. The resulting chicken broth is a natural essence distilled from all that goodness.

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