Hunan cuisine, also called Xiang cuisine, stems from a province that has an age-old reputation as a "land of fish and rice". Hunan Province has always been a cornucopia as far as foodstuffs go. The salient features of Hunan cuisine are richness, creaminess, and moistness, combined with a delicate use of chili. Hunan cuisine is also fragrant, with crunchy fresh vegetables that are cooked "al dente". It is said of Hunan cuisine that it not only has the saltiness of the cuisines of North China and the sweetness of the cuisines of South China, it also has the spicy-hotness as well as the tanginess of more local dishes. Moreover, Hunan cuisine relies on fresh, local ingredients that are seasonal staples, which is another reason why Hunan cuisine is often less expensive than other cuisines.
Hunan cuisine favors cooking techniques such as sautéing, stir-frying, steaming and smoking. It is renowned for its "stewed" dishes. However, Hunan cuisine excels at braising and baking, which lend themselves admirably to the raw materials that make up Hunan cuisine. Equally as important to Hunan cuisine is the art of cutting meats and vegetables, both to please the eye and, in the case of meats,to enhance the tenderness of the finished product.
The special seasonings of Hunan cuisine include soy sauce, tea seed oil, spicy oil, Chinese red pepper, fennel and cassia bark, each of which add its own particular color and flavor to the cuisine. Hunan cuisine is noted for pungency, thanks to its generous but judicious use of spices, especially the use of chili, which is as standard to Hunan cuisine as it is to South American or Indian cuisine. To the people of Hunan, chili can be enjoyed in almost every dish except ice cream.
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|Steamed Hams||làwèi hé zhēng||Laa way her jnng||腊味合蒸|
|Pork Tripe Soup||tāng pào dù||Tung paoww doo||汤泡肚|
|Spicy Chicken||má làzǐ jī||Maa laa-dzrr jee||麻辣子鸡|
|Steamed Fish Head with Diced Spicy Red Peppers||duò jiāo yútóu||Dwor jyaoww yoo-toh||剁椒鱼头|
|Money Fish||jīnqián yú||Jin-chyen yoo||金钱鱼|
|Red Roasted Shark's Fin||hóng wēi yúchì||Hong way yoo-chrr||红煨鱼翅|
|Sugar Candy Lotus||bīngtáng xiāng lián||Bing-tung sshyang lyen||冰糖湘莲|