Hunan cuisine

Hunan cuisine
Hunan cured ham with pickled yardlong beans
Chinese 湖南菜
Xiang cuisine
Chinese 湘菜

Hunan cuisine, also known as Xiang cuisine, consists of the cuisines of the Xiang River region, Dongting Lake and western Hunan Province in China. It is one of the Eight Great Traditions of Chinese cuisine and is well known for its hot and spicy flavours,[1] fresh aroma and deep colours. Common cooking techniques include stewing, frying, pot-roasting, braising and smoking. Due to the high agricultural output of the region, ingredients for Hunan dishes are many and varied.


The history of the cooking skills employed in Hunan cuisine dates back to the 17th century.[1] During the course of its history, Hunan cuisine assimilated a variety of local forms, eventually evolving into its own style. Some well-known dishes include fried chicken with Sichuan spicy sauce (麻辣鸡丁; 麻辣雞丁; málà jīdīng) and smoked pork with dried long green beans (干豆角蒸腊肉; 干豆角蒸臘肉; gāndòujiǎo zhēng làròu).

Hunan cuisine consists of three primary styles:


Known for its liberal use of chili peppers, shallots and garlic, Hunan cuisine is known for being gan la (干辣; gān là; "dry and spicy") or purely hot, as opposed to Sichuan cuisine, to which it is often compared.[1] Sichuan cuisine is known for its distinctive ma la (麻辣; má là; "spicy and numbing") seasoning and other complex flavour combinations, frequently employs Sichuan pepper[1] along with chilies which are often dried. It also utilises more dried or preserved ingredients and condiments. Hunan cuisine, on the other hand, is often spicier by pure chili content and contains a larger variety of fresh ingredients. Both Hunan and Sichuan cuisine are perhaps significantly oilier than the other cuisines in China, but Sichuan dishes are generally oilier than Hunan dishes. Another characteristic distinguishing Hunan cuisine from Sichuan cuisine is that, in general, Hunan cuisine uses smoked and cured goods in its dishes much more frequently.

Another feature of Hunan cuisine is that the menu changes with the seasons. In a hot and humid summer, a meal will usually start with cold dishes or a platter holding a selection of cold meats with chilies for opening the pores and keeping cool in the summer. In winter, a popular choice is the hot pot, thought to heat the blood in the cold months. A special hot pot called yuanyang huoguo (鸳鸯火锅; 鴛鴦火鍋; yuānyāng hǔogūo; "Mandarin ducks hot pot") is notable for splitting the pot into two sides – a spicy one and a mild one. One of the classic dishes in Hunan cuisine served in restaurants and at home is farmer pepper fried pork. It is made with several common ingredients: pork belly, green pepper, fermented black beans and other spices.

Chilies are an entire class of flavourings in Hunan cuisine.[1]

List of notable dishes

EnglishTraditional ChineseSimplified ChinesePinyinNotes
Beer duck啤酒鴨啤酒鸭píjǐu yā
Changsha-style rice vermicelli長沙米粉长沙米粉Chángshā mǐfěn
Changde-style stewed beef with rice vermicelli常德牛肉米粉常德牛肉米粉Chángdé níuròu mǐfěn
Changsha-style stinky tofu長沙臭豆腐长沙臭豆腐Chángshā chòu dòufǔ
Cured ham with cowpeas幹豆角炒臘肉干豆角炒腊肉gān dòujiǎo chǎo làròu
Dong'an chicken東安子雞东安子鸡dōng'ān zǐjī
"Dry-wok" chicken干鍋雞干锅鸡gānguō jī
Homemade-style bean curd家常豆腐家常豆腐jiācháng dòufǔ
Lotus seeds in rock sugar syrup冰糖湘蓮冰糖湘莲bīngtáng xiānglián
Mao's braised pork毛氏紅燒肉毛氏红烧肉Máo shì hóngshāo ròu
Mala chicken麻辣子雞麻辣子鸡málà zǐjī
Mashed shrimp in lotus pod蓮藕蝦仁莲藕虾仁lián ǒu xiā rén
Pearly meatballs珍珠肉丸珍珠肉丸zhēnzhū ròuwán
Pumpkin cake南瓜餅南瓜饼nánguā bǐng
Shredded pork with vegetables農家小炒肉农家小炒肉nóngjiā xiǎo chǎoròu
Smoky flavours steamed together臘味合蒸腊味合蒸làwèi hézhēng
Spare ribs steamed in bamboo竹筒蒸排骨竹筒蒸排骨zhútǒng zhēng páigǔ
Steamed fish head in chili sauce剁椒蒸魚頭剁椒蒸鱼头duòjiāo zhēng yútóu
Stir fried duck with blood炒血鴨炒血鸭chǎoxuéyā
Stir fried meat with douchi and chili peppers豆豉辣椒炒肉豆豉辣椒炒肉dòuchǐ làjiāo chǎoròu

See also


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