Good Eats

Yunnan Yao 云南肴 @ Shanghai

I visited Yunnan many years back, but the cuisine did not leave any impression on me, except the Crossing-the-bridge rice vermicelli and lots of mushroom. Yunnan Yao is a chain restaurant that specialises in Yunnan cuisine and can be found in Raffles Changning

Yunnan cuisine, alternatively known as Dian cuisine, is an amalgam of the cuisines of the Han Chinese and other ethnic minority groups in Yunnan Province in southwestern China. As the province with the largest number of ethnic minority groups, Yunnan cuisine is vastly varied, and it is difficult to make generalisations. Many Yunnan dishes are quite spicy, and mushrooms are featured prominently. Flowers, ferns, algae and insects may also be eaten. The cuisine of Yunnan is often compared to the cuisine of Southeast Asia as the province borders the region and many of the ethnic minorities or related cultural groups also have a presence in Southeast Asia.

Three of the province’s most famous products are the renowned Pu’er tea, which was traditionally grown in Ning’er; as well as Xuanwei ham, which is often used to flavour stewed and braised foods in Chinese cuisine and for making the stocks and broths of many Chinese soups, and guoqiao (crossing the bridge), a rice noodle soup with chicken, pig’s kidney and liver, fish and pickled pork.

1/ 云南过桥米线 Yunnan Crossing-the-bridge rice vermicelli

Crossing-the-bridge noodles has over 100-year history and it was listed as an intangible cultural heritage of Kunming city in 2008 to promote Yunnan food culture. The dish is served with a large bowl of boiling hot broth and the soup ingredients. The soup is made by chicken, pork bone and seasoning, such as Chinese star anise and ginger. Also, using a layer of chicken fat to insulate the soup and therefore keep it warm for longer. These ingredients are separated. The soup ingredients are served on a cutting board or plate and include raw vegetables and lightly cooked meats. Common ingredients include thin slices of turkey, chunks of chicken, chicken skin, strips of bean curd sheets, chives, sprouts and rice noodles. Once added into the broth, it cooks quickly with a layer of melted chicken fat and oil glistening on top. The soup takes a few minutes to cook, and it is then spooned out into small bowls.

2/ 野生菌汽锅鸡 – 一鸡两吃 Mushroom with steam pot chicken in two style

Ubiquitous throughout Yunnan, this classic chicken soup is superb because of its ingenious cooking method. The secret lies in the qi guo, the unique Yunnan ceramic pot with a tapered cone or chimney in the centre. A heavy lid fits snugly over the pot and it is set over a saucepan over boiling water. Steam rises through the chimney and condenses under the lid before falling into the pot, creating a heavenly, nourishing consommé.

They boasted that their chicken soup did not use a single drop of added water! All the soup a result of high pressure steam over 3hrs throughout the pot of ingredients.

The chicken and mushrooms were taken out and placed on a bowl of peppercorn and other spices, mixed and formed another style of consuming the chicken. So you can enjoy a really clean and crisp, yet super flavourful chicken consommé, and a spicy and savoury chicken and mushroom casserole.

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诺邓火腿焖小麦瓜 Nuodeng ham with zucchini

3/ 诺邓火腿焖小麦瓜 Nuodeng ham with zucchini

Nuodeng ham is an air-dried ham that has gained popularity because of 舌尖上的中国 Tastes of China TV Series on CCTV. It beats Xuanwei ham and Jinghua ham as the most sought after ham in China. However unlike prosciutto, they cannot be eaten raw and are used as a flavour agent in stock and braising. And because of its rarity, I seriously doubt the one we are eating is true Nuodeng ham.

Zucchini combined with air-dried ham was a match made in heaven. The blandness of zucchini with the saltiness of ham, the nutty taste combined with the musky taste. Just perfect.

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个旧烤猪蹄 Roasted pig trotters

4/ 个旧烤猪蹄 Roasted pig trotters

These pig trotters were braised first and then roasted to a crisp, so you get a smoky flavour on the skin of the trotters, yet really flavourful and moist meat.

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火瓢牛肉 Spicy beef

5/ 火瓢牛肉 Spicy beef

This is a copper pot of cow offals – tripe, stomach, intestines – and other non-commercially expensive part of beef cuts that are suitable for braising. Together with tofu and french fries (not fried), it was quite a whole dish.

6/ 版纳竹筒饭 Banna bamboo rice

A street food in Yunnan, it is basically glutinous rice cooked in a bamboo canister. The faint bamboo fragrance was infused into the glutinous rice.

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褚柑果汁 Chu orange juice

褚柑果汁 Chu orange juice is naturally sweet. Very rich, it’s like drinking orange squash.

Service in this restaurant is average, and food so-so (I still do not find Yunnan cuisine memorable). Good when the rest of the restaurants are full and you need a quick lunch. Just order the vermicelli.

Yunnan Yao 云海肴云南菜(长宁来福士店)
长宁路1123号莱佛士广场东区3楼E-3-18
Tel : (021) 62990571

Dater Visited : Mar 2019

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