Guizhou Province, in southwest China, has beautiful landscape, colorful minority customs and mouth-watering food; distinctively spicy and sour food. If you like spicy or other strong-flavored food, Guizhou will be a culinary paradise for you.
You may wonder why Guizhou people like to eat spicy food, how they prepare their dishes, what to eat in Guizhou, and what to do if you don't like chili. Follow me to find the answers, or to begin the quest to discover your favorite Guizhou dish.
Why Is Spicy Food So Popular Among Guizhou People?
One reason is that the Guizhou climate is humid with lots of rainfall, and the gloomy and cold weather can easily lead to illness. People eat spicy food to dispel the cold and wet.
Another reason is that salt was a scarce commodity in ancient Guizhou. Even as recently as decades ago, salt could not be produced in Guizhou and it was difficult to transport it in, but the mountainous environment was always suitable for growing chili pepper.
For these two reasons, Guizhou people in past times used chili as seasoning, and the habit became a tradition.
How Do Guizhou People Eat Chili?
In Guizhou, people prepare 5 kinds of chili seasoning:
- Chili sauce: Chop raw chili along with ginger, minced garlic, sugar and salt. Such sauce can be used in all kinds of dishes.
- Chili powder: Ground dried chili. Used as a dip for meat dishes.
- Chili oil: Chili powder poured into hot oil. Often used in noodle dishes.
- Pickled chili: Used when frying vegetables or rice.
- Dried chili: Used in fried dishes.
Here is one more thing hard to believe but it's true, that chili itself can be a snack in Guizhou. People fry dried chili along with oil, salt, peanuts and sesame to make a dish of crisp chili. This can be a side dish or a snack.
Top 10 Dishes in Guizhou
"Eat large pieces of meat, drink large bowls of wine." This popular saying among Guizhou minority people reflects their enthusiastic character. Guizhou dishes are as "hot" as the people who live there. Now, let's take a look at some famous dishes in Guizhou.
Chili Chicken (辣子鸡)
This is a famous dish in many regions of China, but it has a distinctive flavor in Guizhou. The Guizhou secret is a special Huaxi chili sauce. The sauce is spicy but not irritating, with a distinctive, pleasant flavor.
To prepare this dish, sliced chicken is first fried, before chili sauce is added and fried together in strong fire. The fragrance and flavor of chili and chicken are sure to stimulate your taste buds.
Glutinous Rice (糯米饭)
Glutinous rice is popular in Guizhou, especially among ethnic minority people. In minority villages, people prepare and eat glutinous rice when celebrating festivals. Making colorful glutinous rice is also an important element of the Sister's Meal Festival.
By the Guizhou roadsides, travelers can find restaurants or vendors serving all kinds of glutinous rice with different flavors. Sweet, salty, sour or spicy, you may choose whichever flavor you like!
Read more about Guizhou festivals
Rice Tofu in Chili Oil (红油米豆腐)
Rice tofu in chili oil is a popular cold dish or night snack in the summer. Different chefs use different ingredients for the chili oil, so the dish may taste a little different in different restaurants.
The basic cooking method, however, is the same: blend rice tofu cubes, fried peanuts, fried soybeans, bean sprouts and pickled radish with chili oil, and then top with sliced green onions, ginger, soybean sauce and vinegar.
Learn how to cook tofu back home.
Siwawa (Vegetarian Spring Rolls/丝娃娃)
Siwawa is a traditional Guizhou snack. It is easily prepared: Use wrappings made from flour to wrap vegetable shreds, dip into sauce, and then eat.
This dish can be found in many small restaurants, and is vegetarian-friendly.
Kaili Sour Soup Fish (凯里酸汤鱼)
This is a hot pot dish originating with the Miao ethnic group around Kaili, and well known in China. The best ingredients are sour rice soup and fresh local fish. The chef braises the fish in rice soup and adds pickled chili, tomato sauce, and other Chinese herbs.
This is one of Guizhou's iconic dishes, as it combines the favorite flavors of local people: spicy, sour and fresh.
Find more Fish Dishes in China.
Congjiang Fragrant Pork (从江香猪)
Congjiang pork is of high quality and good flavor, and can be cooked in several ways, such as fried, barbecued or pickled. The most popular and easiest method, however, is to steam it: Cut the pork into slices, top with parsley (no need for salt or any other seasoning) and steam for about 20 minutes. It is said that this is the best way to enjoy the natural flavor of the pork.
Houttuynia is a kind of herb with a strong and strange fishy odor and flavor. It is a favorite ingredient of Guizhou people, who make it into houttuynia salad, or fry it with smoked meat.
In traditional Chinese pharmacology, eating houttuynia is good for your body. While a welcome delicacy to some, it can, however, be an unbearable taste to others. Would you like a try?
Zunyi Mutton Noodles (遵义羊肉粉)
This dish has a history of over 300 years. The chef braises mutton bones to make soup, and then tops noodles with the soup, large mutton pieces and chili oil. In winter, a large bowl of mutton noodles will be the best way to keep your body warm.
Mutton noodles are cooked and eaten all around Guizhou, but only Zunyi mutton noodles are famous throughout the entire country. In Zunyi city, there is a custom: On the day of the winter solstice, everyone in the city eats a bowl of mutton noodles. People say this repels the coldness of the coming winter.
See the top noodles in China.
Huaxi Beef Noodles (花溪牛肉粉)
Huaxi is a suburb of Guizhou's capital city Guiyang, and the beef noodles here can be a wonder. The soup is cooked with multiple ingredients, including Chinese herbs. When served, the noodles and soup are topped with sour cabbage, parsley and of course, large beef slices. If you wish, you can add more chili oil to the soup.
A bowl of well-prepared beef noodles should have fresh soup and fragrant beef. After its many years of development, Huaxi beef noodles might be a highlight of Guizhou cuisine.
Changwang Noodles (肠旺面)
The word "changwang" means pork intestines and coagulated pig blood. This bowl of noodles might seem horrible to some people, but it is a popular local dish.
Among the many dishes in Guizhou, changwang noodles are famous for their three wonders: their color, fragrance and taste. A bowl of well-prepared noodles should have tender blood cubes, chewy noodles, and fresh soup, red but not so spicy that it burns! If you don't mind the dish ingredients, you are recommended to have a taste.
Investigate some other unusual Chinese ingredients.
What If I Can't Eat Spicy Food?
Guizhou people like to eat spicy food, but if you can't eat chili, it doesn't mean you will have nothing to eat in Guizhou! Dish flavors can be adjusted according to your taste. Some dishes mentioned above, as well as other dishes in Guizhou, will still be delicious with little or no chili.
Tell your guide your preferences, and he/she will help you find some restaurants suitable for you, and/or tell the chef to put less chili or oil in your food. Or let your guide take you to some western food restaurants in Guiyang or Kaili.
Have a Taste of Guizhou with Us
Guizhou is a hub of minority culture in China, and is also a land of tasty food. Taking a private tour with China Highlights, you will have an opportunity to experience local culture and handicrafts, and to taste some popular dishes. Check the itineraries below for some ideas, but bear in mind that everything can be customized:
Or add Guizhou as one of your destinations, as below:
Or tell us your preferences and we'll help you create your own tour.