The Yunnan Cookbook - Recipes from China's Land of Ethnic Diversity
By Annabel Jackson and Linda Chia

 

If you mention Yunnan to the average food lover, the chances are they'll know the province is famous for three things: ham, mushrooms and crossing-the-bridge noodles.

In their book, Annabel Jackson and Linda Chia aim to show us that Yunnan cuisine is much broader than we think. In their introduction, they say that 51 of the mainland's 56 formally recognised ethnic groups live in the province - and 15 of those reside nowhere else on the mainland. What's more, the Han - who account for 90 per cent of the mainland's overall population - represent less than two-thirds of the Yunnan population.

"It is hard to generalise about Yunnan cuisine," they write. "It almost doesn't exist, as each of the ethnic minorities have their own cooking traditions, and there's actually very little 'Chinese' food on offer outside of Kunming - and even here it would incorporate local herbs and chilli."

The book is sprinkled with stories about the people the authors met on travels through the province, and gives insight into the background of some local ingredients, such as grapes, mushrooms and ham.

Some of the more unusual dishes include potato rice; pumpkin pancakes; fried Yunnan goat cheese with tomato salsa; Naxi stir-fried potatoes with pickled vegetables; steamed taro and broccoli with grated carrot; mint and pomelo salad; sour-spicy fish and tomato soup in clay pot; aromatic lemon honey chicken; roasted bell peppers stuffed with pork and tofu; and twice-cooked pork belly with kumquats.