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Guizhou cuisine, or Qian cuisine, consists of cooking traditions and dishes from Guizhou Province in southwestern China. Guizhou cuisine shares many features with Sichuan cuisine and Hunan cuisine, especially in bringing the sensation of spiciness and pungency. What makes Guizhou cuisine unique is the emphasis of a mixed sour-and-spicy taste, as compared to the numbing-and-hot sensation (麻辣; má là) featured in Sichuan cuisine and the dry-hot taste (干辣; 乾辣; gān là) featured in Hunan cuisine. There is an ancient local saying, "Without eating a sour dish for three days, people will stagger with weak legs". The saying reflects how Guizhou people love local dishes with a sour taste. The combination of sour and spicy flavours is also found in Shaanxi cuisine. Guizhou cuisine differs from Shaanxi cuisine in that it lacks the emphasis on the salty taste, which is a common trait found in most northern Chinese cuisines. In addition, the unique sourness featured in Guizhou cuisine comes from the local tradition of fermenting vegetables or grains, and not from using vinegar products.
Guizhou cuisine comprises many local varieties and dishes from ethnic minorities, such as the Miao people. Some famous local cuisines are represented by large cities like Guiyang, Zunyi, and Liupanshui.
Guizhou cuisine has matured since the beginning of the Ming dynasty.
Guizhou is famous for producing high quality Chinese liquor, baijiu. One of the most famous and expensive baijiu in China, Maotai is from Guizhou. Guizhou cuisine also features dishes specially cooked to match the flavour of locally produced liquor, such as preserved vegetables and steamed cured meat.
Guizhou cuisine features various pickled vegetable, or yancai (腌菜; 醃菜; yān cài). The pickled vegetables are refreshing and healthy, and more importantly, bring the sour sensation. Fresh vegetables are dried without exposure to sunlight after being cleaned. Afterwards, they are salted and sealed in containers for four or five days to allow proper fermentation. Pickled cabbage and radish are served as side dishes, and popular to be consumed with noodles and rice-noodles.
The sour soup broth (酸汤; 酸湯; suān tāng), representative of Guizhou cuisine with unique sourness, is a cooking heritage from the Miao people. It is the secret to create the famous Guizhou dish 'fish in sour soup'. The broth is normally made from the fermentation of rice, rice wine, wild tomatoes, red pepper, garlic and ginger.
Spicy dipping sauce (蘸水; zhàn shuǐ) is crucial in daily dinning of Guizhou people. It is made by mixing chili pepper, garlic, ginger, green scallion, sesame oil or soy sauce, according to personal preference. One unique ingredient used in Guizhou dipping sauce is Houttuynia (折耳根/鱼腥草; 折耳根/魚腥草; zhéěrgēn/yúxīng cǎo), which is loved by local people but not commonly accepted by other Chinese with its distinct taste.
Various types of spiciness in Guizhou cuisine come from the art of using chili peppers in different ways by locals. Hu-la (糊辣; hú là) is created by heat-drying crushed chili pepper. Ciba-la (糍粑辣; cíbā là) refers to both the uncooked mashed chili pepper paste and the chili sauce by simmering the paste in oil. Zao-la (糟辣; zāo là) is made by preserving minced chili pepper with ginger and garlic. Laoguo-la (烙锅辣; 烙鍋辣; lào guō là) is spice-flavored chili flakes. The renowned chili sauce brand, Lao Gan Ma, is originated from Guizhou.
There are two fried rice dishes originated from Guizhou and popular on the dining tables of locals: Fried rice with egg and zao-la, and Guai-lu fried rice (free style fried rice with Houttuynia, Chinese bacon, pickled vegetables and other vegetables of choice).
Notable dishes in Guizhou cuisine: fish in sour soup, stir-fried chicken with ciba-la (Guizhou style spicy chicken), stir-fried Houttuynia with Chinese bacon, crispy whole fish with zao-la, braised trotter in brown sauce, stir-fried Qingyan tofu, etc.
Notable appetizers and street food in Guizhou cuisine: Siwawa (Guiyang spring roll), love tofu (baked tofu stuffed with chili) and Changwang noodles (egg noodles with chili oil, pig's intestine and blood).
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