Yunnan Food Ingredients

China is a country full of delicacies, with a wide range of food ingredients. In terms of culinary experiences, Chinese cuisine has contributed a great deal to the world, from ingredient & flavor exploration to kitchenware designs, all with the purpose to turn dining into a unique experience. On this page we list some basic Yunnan Food Ingredients, which should be present in your shelf and are used to prepare some of the most common Yunnan Food Recipes.

1. Sample Food


Rice is the base of traditional Chinese food. China is the world’s largest rice producer, and one of the earliest centers of rice cultivation. Rice is a major staple food for people from rice farming areas in southern China. The domination of white rice began during the Song dynasty when many people migrated south. Rice is also used to produce beers, wines and vinegars. It is the staple food in everyday meals of Chinese Southerners. 


Noodles are another staple food in Yunnan. Wheat arrived from western Asia by 2000 BC and became widely used in the form of noodle soups. Noodles can be served hot or cold with different toppings and broth. The noodles appear in wide variety of shapes, sizes, textures, and flavors. The flour-based food such as breads, dumplings and steamed buns are also served as the sample food of some family.

Rice Noodles

Yunnan rice noodles is the most popular food among the local people. Yunnan people also give full play to the way of eating rice noodles, including cold, hot, and fried. The most famous rice noodle is Across Bridge Rice Noodle, which has a history of more than 100 years and was passed to Kunming more than 50 years ago.

2. Seasoning

Ginger, garlic, and scallions

Ginger, garlic, and scallions are the mirepoix or holy trinity of Yunnan cooking. These aromatics are each essential to Chinese cooking. Garlic has been a primary ingredient in Chinese cooking for many centuries; in fact it’s one of the ingredients that give Chinese recipes their distinctive flavours. Having a spicy, sweet, fresh taste, garlic adds a distinctive flavour to soups, sauces and stews. 

Condiments and Seasonings

  • Soy sauce is the foundation of Chinese and other Asian cooking. It is used in cooking, as a table condiment and as a dipping sauce. Other sauces include Oyster-flavored sauce, Hoisin sauce, Chili sauce, Plum sauce, Thick broad-bean sauce, etc.
  • Chinkiang Vinegar is very popular for its strong smoky flavor. This dark rice vinegar is made of glutinous rice and can be added to soups, dipping sauces and braised dishes.
  • Chilies/peppers: fresh or dried, hot or hotter, mostly used in spicy dishes, especially in Sichuan and Hunan cuisines.
  • Five Spice Powder is a mixture of star anise, Sichuan pepper, fennel, cloves and cinnamon and produces a pungent, spicy, fragrant and somewhat sweet flavour to recipes. 
  • Chinese Parsley, a very popular herb with a strong flavor, also known as Coriander. It is popular in Chinese cooking with sauces, soups, dim sums and as garnish.
  • Some regions also use anise, white peppers, peppercorns, fennel, cinnamon, and cloves.
  • Oils include cooking oil such as peanut oil; flavoring oil such as sesame oil and Chili oil.

3. Meat

“The Chinese eat everything with four legs, except for tables, and everything that flies, except for airplanes.” So do Yunnan people. Chinese people love to eat and almost all animals’ meat can be eaten, such as chicken, duck, fish, pork, beef, mutton, etc. Besides, almost every part of the animal can be cooked and served, no matter the head, neck, or the organ. Among them, pork is the most widely consumed meat. 

Chinese people rarely eat any raw meat. There are so many different ways to prepare all types of meat: fried, boiled, roasted, baked, stewed, poached, pickled… Ham is a widely used ingredient in Chinese dishes, especially in Yunnan dishes. It is so common that the word ‘pork’ in Chinese can refer to meat in general. 

4. Soybean Products

Soybean products, like soy milk, soy oil, soy paste, soy sauce, and especially tofu (bean curd), have been a staple in Chinese and other Asian cuisines since ancient times. 

  • Tofu is made of water, soy milk, and a curdling agent and it is valued as a rich source of proteins, which always served in soups, salads and stir-fried dishes.
  • Pickled bean curd is a fermented tofu, usually pickled with soy beans, chili, or red yeast rice. It looks much like blue cheese and is quite salty. Doufuru is often combined with rice and beans.
  • Soy milk or soymilk is a plant-based drink produced by soaking and grinding soybeans, boiling the mixture, and filtering out remaining particulates.
  • During the boiling of soy milk, in an open shallow pan, a film or skin forms on the liquid surface called Tofu Skin.
  • Sprouts that come from beans — and while sprouting can be done using just about any bean, the most common bean sprouts usually come from mung beans and soybeans.

Famous Tofu in Yunnan:

5. Vegetables

It’s hard to find a Chinese table that is without a big plate of perfectly stir-fried leafy greens. Vegetables are the second most important ingredient used in Chinese dishes. Chinese people like vegetables, especially leafy greens, and eat many different kinds at almost every meal. The most widely consumed vegetables include leafy vegetables like Chinese White Cabbage, lettuce, and spinach, mushrooms like shiitake, golden needle mushrooms, wood ears, oyster mushrooms, and tea tree mushrooms. Other vegetables like green beans, bamboo shoots, Chinese eggplants, white radishes, onions and carrots are also favored by Chinese people.

For Yunnan people, due to its special geographical and climatic environment, they like to eat many wild vegetables and flowers. A flower-made meal is a surprise for your Yunnan travel.

See Flower Dishes in Yunnan.

6. Wild Fungus

Yunnan is the kingdom of wild fungi, with thousands of varieties. Wild mushroom contains a variety of amino acids, rich nutrition and delicious taste. Some of the famous and common ones are Jizong, bolete, matsutake, chanterelle and so on. Matsutake mushroom is also known as “king of fungi”. Every year when the rainy season comes, matsutake mushroom can be seen from Dali and Lijiang to Diqing and northwest Yunnan. 

7. Egg

Eggs are very popular in China and China has a large consumption of eggs each year. Chinese people eat the eggs laid by almost all types of poultry – chicken, geese, ducks, pigeons and quails. And they can make lots of dishes with eggs such as salted duck eggs and preserved eggs. Eggs can be dried with vegetables like onions, chives, and chili, or steamed, boiled in soup.

Fried rice is one of the most popular fried rice in China. 

Yunnan Food Culture Travel

For people who are interested in Yunnan food, it is a good choice to take a Yunnan food culture tour, which can help the tourists better understand Yunnan cuisine. Yunnan cuisinealso named as Dian cuisine, is an compound of the cuisines of the Han people and other ethnic groups in Yunnan Province, southwest China. With the largest number of ethnic minority groups, Yunnan cuisine is vastly varied. Many Yunnan dishes are quite spicy, and mushrooms are featured prominently. The ingredient is diverse and rare, like flowers, ferns, algae and some insects. Curious about Yunnan food? Why not start a Yunnan food tour?

Recommended Yunnan Food Culture Tours

Read more about Yunnan Food Tours