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Lip-smacking southwest specialties
By Li Tianyu

No trip to Lijiang would be complete without sampling the local culinary specialties. The traditional dishes of the Naxi ethnic minority are based on fresh local fish, poultry, red meat and vegetables. They are married with the spiciness of Sichuan cuisine.

Among the signature dishes worth a try:

Clay pot chicken (汽锅鸡), also known asqiguoji, or steam pot chicken, is signature Yunnan cuisine that originated in Lijiang.This dish can be traced back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), when a chef named Yang Li invented a special clay pot with a funnel in the middle. The chicken piecesare cooked to perfect tenderness, with herbal flavorings and ingredients likepine mushrooms. Because of the funnel,steam is captured and retained in the cooking vessel, which hastens the cooking process, concentrates the flavors andtenderizes the meat.

Yunxueli Restaurant (云雪丽之阿顺厨房) is the place to go for authentic clay pot chicken. The dish served here features wild truffles, which give it a tasty, distinctive flavor. Xueshan fish is also a signature course. (108 Xingwen Alley, Qiyi St, Gucheng District)

Naxi barbeque (纳西烤肉) is made from pork belly, which is cooked to a crispy,nongreasy tenderness. This dish is very popular among locals. It is served duringspecial festivals and celebrations, and also at the smallest street food stalls. It is traditionally eaten with local chilipowder as an accompaniment. A glass ofbeer goes down well with this dish.

Try the No. 88 Snack Bar (88号小吃店) for authentic Naxi cuisine. Opened in 1984, this diner offers signature dishes such as Naxi barbeque and Lijiangbaba. It is clean and cozy, and best of all, moderately priced. (88 Wuyi St, Xingren Upper Section) 

Lijiang baba (丽江粑粑) is a pancake-style bread that originated with the Naxipeople. Its crispy texture encases a wide variety of diverse fillings, includingblack sesame and walnuts. Savory baba is equally popular in sweet forms.

The best baba in Lijiang is said to be from a vendor’s stall near the MufuMansion in ChongrenLane, where more than20 flavors are offered at 3 yuan each (47 US cents).

Preserved spareribs hotpot (腊排骨火锅) is a traditional cuisine served at local feasts and during Spring Festival. It is different from the Mongolian and Sichuan hotpots because it has a clear broth that preserves the original flavor of the preserved ribs. Because of Lijiang’s temperate climate, this hotpot dish is servedall the year around.

Lao Dao Fang Private Kitchen (唠叨坊), located in the Gucheng District, is especially famous for its spareribs hotpot,which comes at a reasonable price. (NearBulingdang Lane at the Ancient Stone Bridge on Wuyi St) 


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