Comparison with Sichuan cuisine
Hunan cuisine is known for its liberal use of chilli peppers, shallots and garlic. And it’s known for being dry hot (干辣) or purely hot as well, as opposed to the better known Sichuan cuisine, to which it is often compared. Sichuan cuisine is known for its distinctive hot and numbing seasoning and other complex flavor combinations, frequently employ Sichuan peppercorns along with chilies which are often dried, and utilizes more dried or preserved ingredients and condiments. Hunan Cuisine, on the other hand, is often spicier by pure chili content, contains a larger variety of fresh ingredients, and tends to be oilier. Another characteristic distinguishing Hunan cuisine from Sichuan cuisine is that, in general, Hunan cuisine uses smoked and cured goods in its dishes much more frequently.
|Fried Chicken with Spicy Sauce(麻辣鸡丁)|
|Mao's braised pork(毛氏红烧肉) |
Another feature of Hunan cuisine is that the menu changes with the seasons. In a hot and humid summer, a meal will usually start with cold dishes or a platter holding a selection of cold meats with chilies for opening the pores and keeping cool in the summer. In winter, a popular choice is the hot pot, thought to heat the blood in the cold months. A special hot pot called (鸳鸯火锅 yuān yāng hǔo gūo) lover's hot pot is notable for splitting the pot into a spicy side and a milder side.
Changsha Stinky Tofu
Stinky tofu or chòu dòufu is a form of fermented tofu that has a strong odor. It is a popular snack in East and Southeast Asia, particularly mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong and in East Asian enclaves elsewhere, where as a result of various factors, it is usually found homemade, at night markets or roadside stands, or as a side dish in lunch bars rather than in restaurants.
|Changsha-style stinky tofu(长沙臭豆腐) |
This is one of Hunan’s most famous dishes, a delicate concoction of chicken flavored with chilli and clear rice vinegar that is said to have originated in Dong’an County. Its precise history is lost in the mists of legend, although most sources claim it is based on a dish called “vinegar chicken” (cu ji) that was eaten in Dong’an county as far back as the eighth century, during the Tang dynasty.
When U.S. President Richard Nixon visited to the People's Republic of China in 1972, Chairman Mao invited him to taste the Chinese characteristic dishes, and Dongan Chicken was included.