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What to eat

Food & Drink / What to eat

Top 10 Hunan dishes you have to taste

By Yan Jiang

April 27

Hunan cuisine is also known as Xiang cuisine. Its unique spicy flavor has won it a place among the Eight Culinary Cuisines of China.

Hunan cuisine is also known as Xiang cuisine. Its unique spicy flavor has won it a place among the Eight Culinary Cuisines of China.

Hunan cuisine is also known as Xiang cuisine. Its unique spicy flavor has won it a place among the Eight Culinary Cuisines of China. Local preference for spicy food, based on original analysis, is due to the great humidity of the region. It is also said that spicy food helps release extra damp from the body, which is beneficial for health.

China.org.cn has compiled a list of top 10 Hunan dishes that are not only tasty but also wallet-friendly. While the degree of spiciness can be adjusted based on your preference, never expect to taste any Hunan dish without chili, less the cook should feel completely at a loss.

Here are our recommendations.

1. Shredded pork with fresh peppers

[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
Reason for recommendation: This is probably the most popular dish with local people because of its unique flavor stemming from a perfect combination of long spicy peppers and streaky pork. It is also quite common to mix rice into the sauce.

2. Boiled yellow catfish

[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
Reason for recommendation: Like most Chinese people, you might be confused by its literal translation in Mandarin. While huangya literally means yellow duck, the dish has nothing to do with ducks. Yellow catfish has few bones and muscle but has high nutritional value, which makes it very popular with those who dislike eating fish. With the added sliced chili peppers, green onions and diced ginger, yellow catfish has an incredibly delicious taste.

3. Steamed fish head with pickled pepper sauce

 

[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
Reason for recommendation: Choosing pickled peppers with a decent acidity is the secret to this delicious dish. Placing red and yellow-green pickled peppers all over the fish head gives it a really nice appearance, and makes it look more attractive and tasty. One more tip for this dish is to add a bowl of rice noodles into the spicy and sour sauce.

4. Mao’s braised pork

 

[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
Reason for recommendation: This dish might be the least spicy dish in Hunan cuisine because the starchy sauce is made from sugar. Braised pork used to be Chairman Mao’s favorite, and was invented after adjustments were made for his taste.

5. Steamed ribs with black beans and chili peppers

[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
Reason for recommendation: Mixed with minced red peppers and black beans, this dish has a unique smell, combining meat and beans. The way of cooking fully preserves the nutrition of the meat and keeps it from becoming greasy. While it is very easy to make, timing is everything.

6. “Dry-wok” chicken

 

[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
Reason for recommendation: “Wok” is the term for “pot” in Cantonese. “Dry woks” mostly contain a little bit of thick sauce at the bottom only. Chicken made this way tastes crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Generally, fresh vegetables are included in this dish.

7. Braised eel with cucumber

[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]

Reason for recommendation: Before being braised with cucumber, the eels are normally fried to medium rare. Normally the cook will add a handful of dried chilis when the soup becomes milky.

8. Smoky flavors steamed together

 

[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
Reason for recommendation: Three main ingredients are needed for this dish: smoky pork, duck and fish. The oil stemming from these three different meats smells really good. Mixed with flavorous spicy black beans, I bet you will order another bowl of rice to go with it.

9. Big pot cauliflower

[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
 Reason for recommendation: Cauliflower is broken off into segments for this dish. Experienced cooks prefer to add oil collected after frying smoky pork and cumin seeds.

10. Preserved eggs with roasted chili peppers

[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
[Image Credit: Changsha.com.cn]
Reason for recommendation: Though this dish looks like a simple starter, it has very strict requirements. Roast the peppers until they are well done, tear off their peels and cut them into strips. The last step is to mix sliced preserved eggs and stripped roasted peppers with two teaspoons of chili oil and a little bit of vinegar.

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