Yunnan Cuisine

Dian cuisine is the term for Han Chinese cuisine found in Yunnan, especially around Kunming. Dian-style dishes are similar to Sichuan dishes and tend to favor spicy and sour flavors. Rice is a staple here, as is a type of rice noodle called mixian. A favorite dish is guoqiao mixian, a boiling broth served with raw pork and vegetables that all cook in the bowl. Qiguo ji (steampot chicken), another trademark Dian-style dish, uses a special earthenware pot to steam chicken and vegetables into a savory soup.

One thing that sets Dian cuisine apart from that of the rest of China is its use of dairy products. Rubing is a mildly flavored cheese made from goat's milk, and is typically fried and served with dried chili peppers or sugar. It is a little drier and less pungent than most other goat cheese. Rushan, or "milk fan," is a long strip of a cheese that is spread with a salty or sweet sauce. Wrapped around a chopstick, it makes a handy snack.

Street barbecue is a major part of the Yunnan culinary experience. Every kind of meat and vegetable is on offer, as well as quail eggs, chou doufu (stinky tofu), and ou (lotus root filled with sticky rice). Most restaurants in Yunnan close early, but barbecue stands stay open until the wee hours, making them a good place for a late-night snack. As for the morning after, a Yunnan breakfast is incomplete without shao erkuai (grilled rice pancakes with sweet or savory fillings and optional youtiao, a fried dough stick), often sold at mobile grills.

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