Yunnan Food Recipes

Instead of ordering takeout try making your favorite Yunnan food at home with the best Yunnan Food Recipes from Yunnan Exploration. Yunnan is a province full of delicacies, with a wide range of food ingredients. Many ingredients are available at local supermarkets, while others may need to go to Chinese/Asian supermarkets to buy or use substitutes. Here are some easy recipe ideas for you. These authentic Yunnan food recipes are provided with color photos and simple step-by-step instructions.

1. Crossing the Bridge Rice Noodles

Crossing the Bridge Rice Noodles are the most celebrated specialty in Yunnan, served with a large bowl of hot chicken broth and a platter of side ingredients including rice noodles, slices of pork, fish and raw vegetables. You cook for yourself by adding them all into the stock, stir it well and then enjoy.


  • 1⁄4 lb prosciutto ham, thinly sliced
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon rice wine
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chicken fat
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 ounce spinach
  • 2 ounces boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 ounces fish fillets, skinned and deboned
  • 2 ounces shrimp or 2 ounces prawns, shelled
  • 8 dried Chinese black mushrooms
  • 9 ounces very fine Chinese egg noodles

How to Cook

  • Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes, drain, and set aside.
  • Blanch the spinach briefly in boiling water, drain, and set aside. Mix the rice wine, ginger, 1/8 tsp of the salt, and the soy sauce into a marinade. Slice the chicken, fish, prosciutto and prawns paper-thin. Spread out on a serving platter and add the marinade. Let stand.
  • Heat a pot of water to boiling and add the noodles. Bring back to a boil and cook uncovered until they are soft, about 4 minutes for dried noodles and 2 minutes for fresh ones. Drain in a colander and lay the spinach on top.
  • Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan and add the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt, and the chicken fat. Bring to a fast boil for 1 minute. Transfer to a tureen, previously filled with hot water and then drained, and bring to the table with the platter of meats and the colander of noodles.
  • Submerge four large ceramic soup bowls in the sink under hot tap water until they are very warm. Place 1/4 of the noodles in each bowl. On top of the noodles, place 1/4 of the fish, shrimp, chicken, spinach, mushrooms and prosciutto. Pour the boiling broth into the bowls and let them sit for 2 minutes. Top each bowl with a little cilantro and serve.

2. Steamed-pot Chicken

Featuring the chicken being steamed in a Yunnan-style clay pot with a mixture of medicinal herbs for 3-4 hours, Steamed-pot Chicken is famous for its tender meat, delicious soup and nourishing values.


  • Basic recipe: (for medium steamer)
  • 1 ½ lbs. chicken skinned and cut into pieces
  • 7 slices fresh ginger
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 cup best-quality Shaoxing wine
  • ground white pepper to taste
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock
  • Optional ingredients:
  • peeled fresh water chestnuts
  • bamboo shoots
  • dried shiitake mushrooms
  • thin slices Chinese (or Smithfield) ham
  • dried goji berries
  • For garnishing:
  • chopped cilantro
  • shredded scallions
  • a few drops of light soy sauce
  • a few drops of Sesame oil (optional)
  • a few drops of Zhenjiang vinegar (only if the soup is too sweet for some reason)

How to Cook

  • Chop chicken into pieces, blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes.
  • Place chicken in Yunnan Steamer on top of sliced green onions. Add what optional ingredient(s) you have chosen in layers on the chicken, then add the rice wine, salt and pepper and lastly the sliced ginger.
  • Place the steam clay pot over a medium stockpot that’s filled with hot water. Cut long strips of parchment paper of about two inches wide. Be sure to cut enough length to surround the pot. Make a thick paste of flour or cornstarch with water to a consistency of paper glue. Spread the starch paste on the parchment paper strips. Seal the seam of the pots with the parchment.
  • Then bring the water to a slow boil and cook the soup for about three to four hours.
  • If you notice that there is no more steam coming out of the spout, the water may have boiled away. Remove the seal, add more water and seal the seam again. Continue to cook until the condensation has created enough soup to fill the steam clay pot. Serve the soup in the pot immediately after removing the paper seal.
  • When done, discard ginger pieces and add garnishes to your taste.

3. Old Grandma’s Potatoes

Old grandma’s potato is one of Yunnan’s simplest dishes to prepare. It could be likened to the English dish bubble and squeak. The name stems from the fact that the soft nature of the dish means that even a toothless grandmother could consume it without too much trouble.


  • 1 lb waxy potato
  • 1⁄3 cup peanut oil or 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and sliced
  • 4 whole dried red chilies, stem ends removed (optional)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh fennel greens, chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons hot Chinese chili paste (or to taste) (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

How to Cook

  • Peel potatoes, and dice into 1-inch cubes.
  • Boil potatoes in water for 10 minutes or until done. Drain water.
  • Mash potatoes briefly with a hand masher–there should still be a lot of large lumps.
  • Heat empty wok over highest heat until you can see heat rise from the surface.
  • Add peanut oil and swirl in wok for a moment until heated.
  • Add garlic cloves and chilies and toss in oil for a moment until fragrant. If the garlic starts to brown before you get the other ingredients added, move off heat for a moment.
  • Add green onions, fennel, chili paste, and salt and stir-fry for a moment until ingredients are fully combined and green onion is wilted. (The fennel of Yunnan has only leafy green parts, no bulb, so it resembles dillweed.).
  • Add potatoes, stir-fry until ingredients are thoroughly combined and potatoes are heated through.
  • Serves 4 as part of a Chinese meal (a couple of meat dishes, a green vegetable, lao nai potatoes, a soup, and white rice).

4. Ghost Chicken

This bright, spicy, herb-laden dish is a specialty of the minority Dai people of Yunnan province in the south of China. Many of the minority peoples of Yunnan traditionally boil a chicken to show respect to their dead. Once the ceremony is finished, they shred the meat and mix it with ginger, garlic, and cilantro to make this dish, also known as Ghost Chicken.


  • 2 chicken breast halves with skin and bone (1 ½ pounds total)
  • ⅛ – ¼ cup fresh lime juice or more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Asian chile-bean paste with garlic (preferably Lan Chi)
  • 1 teaspoon red-chile oil, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn oil, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon microplaned fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon microplaned garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoons minced red bell pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons thinly sliced green Thai Birdseye chiles
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup fresh cilantro sprigs, chopped
  • 2 tbsp sawtooth herb, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp Vietnamese fish mint root, cut into 1″ pieces (optional)

How to Cook

  • Poach the chicken breasts: put the breasts into a pot with just enough water to cover. Season with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil, then cover the pot with a lid, lower the flame, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the stove and allow the chicken to continue to sit in the hot liquid another 20 minutes to continue cooking, then set it aside to cool.
  • Once the chicken breasts have cooled, remove the skin (if any) and discard, then use your fingers to pull the meat into thin strips. (You should have about two cups of meat.) Toss the chicken with the rest of the premixed ingredients.
  • Taste the chicken, and if the flavor is not strong and piquant, add more lime juice and/or salt as necessary.

5. Pineapple Rice

Yunnan food is vastly diverse due to its geographical location and cultural landscape, which make Yunnan cuisine a kaleidoscope of southern Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai flavors. This pineapple rice is a great example of that.


  • pineapples
  • 1 1/3 cups of sticky rice soaked in water overnight
  • 1/3 cup of purple or black rice soaked in water overnight
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1/4 cup of almond shavings
  • 1/4 cup rock sugar

How to Cook

  • Combine the soaked sticky rice and black rice. Place on a cheesecloth in a steamer and steam for 1 hour.
  • Dissolve the rock sugar in 3 tablespoons of hot water. Pour it over the raisins and set aside for later use.
  • Slice the pineapple in half length-wise and hollow with a spoon.
  • Hollow the pineapple and remove the hard core of the pineapple meat. Slice the pineapple meat into small pieces about 1 cm by 1 cm.
  • Combine the steamed rice with the pineapple meat, sugar soaked raisins and almonds shavings. Spoon the rice mixture into the hollowed pineapple and place the pineapple in a steamer and steam for another 20 minutes. Serve hot.

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?

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