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Dai (傣族) Minority Food in Kunming (昆明) China – Plate Of The Day
Chinese Food Food

Dai (傣族) Minority Food in Kunming (昆明) China

April 14, 2011
Dai (傣族) Minority Food in Kunming (昆明) China

Yunnan china trip 2011  kunming 昆明

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been travelling throughout China and just recently returned back to New York. On the trip I started in Beijing then went out to South West China and visited Kunming, DaLi, LiJiang, and LuGu out in the Yunnan province of China. After getting my fill of jian bing, baozi, jiaozi, la mian, and kao ya in Beijing, I was excited to explore the diverse foods of Yunnan.

Yunnan china trip 2011 dali, li jiang, lugu, kunming, 大理 , 丽江,泸沽湖, 昆明

Kunming is a great place to start as it is the center of Yunnan minority indigenous culture representing over 25 different ethnic minorities.
Upon arrival I visited a Dai (傣族) restaurant on the outskirts of Kunming featuring private dining in bamboo huts in the courtyard. Unfortunately we arrived a little late and sat in the main restaurant dining area.
Yunnan china trip 2011 dali, li jiang, lugu, kunming, 大理 , 丽江,泸沽湖, 昆明

The first dish was a spicy smoked BBQ chicken cut up in pieces and served on palm leaves. When we sat down at our table, I noticed a lot of signs throughout the restaurant about the dangers of eating sharp bones and when started eating this dish I instantly got the connection to the warnings.

Yunnan china trip 2011 dali, li jiang, lugu, kunming, 大理 , 丽江,泸沽湖, 昆明

Next we were served a spicy steamed ground beef dish with pickled vegetables wrapped in banana leaves and a bowl of traditional spicy pickled vegetables in salty brine with red hot chilies. The pickled spicy vegetables were probably my favorite recipe. It was extremely spicy but the salt really brought out the full flavor of the vegetables. It’s a little like Kim Chi but it’s served in a broth. You could eat bowls upon bowls of rice with this dish. I am actually reading SALT by Mark Kurlansky (a great book!) and there’s a chapter about the ancient Sichuan salt works located just north of Yunnan. In the book, the author goes into detail describing the how a lot of early Sichuanese cuisine is based on using salt to ferment and pickle vegetables with chilies. I wouldn’t be surprised if this dish is a variant of the ancient recipe.

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  • Reply Katie April 14, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Yum. Sounds awesome. Also, I think two years will not be enough time to eat my fill of jiaozi and baozi…

  • Reply admin April 21, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Katie – I agree – there’s so much good food. Can’t wait to be out there again!

  • Reply robert April 27, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Just got back from shanghai where we concentrated on yunnan food: particularly dai and miao at four different places. We had gone to kunming three years ago and were blown away by the food, particualrly mushroom hot pot in kunming and roadside fish in jinghong. I found your story searching for dai cookbooks: only found beyond the great wall so far but am sure more has to do with the source of peppers, herbs etc than just the recipes.

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