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Top ten delicious dishes in Zhangjiajie

By Zuo Yan | Updated : Aug 30, 2021
Apart from beautiful scenery, delicious food is also a must during a journey. Zhangjiajie must be an ideal resort where you can enjoy both amazing views and tasty dishes.

Sanxiaguo (a dish with three ingredients: cured meat, tofu and white turnip)

Zhangjiajie Sanxiaguo is also known as Tujia Sanxiaguo.

The dish can be traced back to Jiajing period of the Qing Dynasty. The imperial court sent troops to the front line to fight against the Japanese in western Hunan, Hubei, when the New Year was around the corner. In order not to delay the military plans, the leader ordered soldiers to celebrate the New Year a day in advance. Then, they stewed cured meat, tofu and white turnip in a pot and called it as “a mixed dish” which later was renamed as “Sanxiaguo.” 

Now, the ingredients have been changed into pork large intestines, pork belly, ox tripe, lamb tripe, pork trotters or pork head meat. The local chefs will first process the above ingredients (2 or 3 or even more) and then stew them in a pot. The dish has two types—the dried one and the soup one. The dried one has no soup with a spicy flavor, so people who like bland diet had better avoid it. Tasty as it is, it can hardly be seen in hotels but in some small restaurants run by the local people.

Tujia cured meat (a traditional food of Tujia Ethic Group)

Hunan Province produces cured meat and those made by Tujia people is the best. Only Tujia cured meats are purely roasted and smoked by firewood. There are many kinds of cured meats, including cured fish, cured meat, cured sausage, cured pork belly, cured pork liver, cured game and so on. The cured meat is red in black, fat but not greasy, burnt but not crispy, which can give people an endless aftertaste.

In the twelfth lunar month of each year, people cut the pork into pieces, souse them with salt, and then put them into a jar or wooden barrel. A week later, the meat will be taken out for drying and then smoked with firewood. Tujia people usually cut the meat into thin slices and then steam them till ripe. When Tujia people entertain guests, the tasty and appetizing cured meant is usually the main course served on the table.

Stewed chicken with Yaner (an edible lichee grows on cliffs)

In order to get Yaner that grows on the cliffs of Wulingyun, pickers have to climb the precipice with ropes fastened tightly around the waists. Given the inaccessible location and changeable climate, Yaner has become a rarity. With rich trace elements and amino acid, it matches perfectly with free-range chicken, so the dish has a mellow flavor (mild taste).

The free-range chicken has positive effects on liver, kidney, qi, blood, bones and detoxification. As the combination of chicken and Yaner, the dish is a nutritious food for shortness of breath, hypodynamia, cough, dizziness, tinnitus and rehabilitated patients.

Tujia braised pork

Tujia braised pork is a main dish which is only served in banquets or large-scale events. People take the streaky pork as the main ingredient, and the pork will go through a series of processes, such as boiling, frying, frying, and steaming. Later, it will be put into a bowl with dried pickles on its bottom. Though made of fat meat, it is not greasy, but succulent and tasty.

At present, visitors can find this dish in most restaurants and hotels in Zhangjiajie.

Stewed cured meat with fir fungus

Fir fungus, also known as lactarius deliciosus, is seen in the mountains at the junction of Hunan, Hubei, Guizhou, and Chongqing. It is divided into two types: dark fir fungus and red fir fungus. Its growing season is generally March, June and October. Fir fungus contains nutrients like crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, various amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, nucleic acid derivatives and vitamins. Chongyang fir fungus is hailed as the "prince of fir fungus," owing to its medical value and fresh taste.

Stewing cured meat with fir fungus is a usual practice in Wulingyuan District. Simmered in a slow fire, the salty cured meat matches perfectly with the mellow fir fungus, giving the eaters lingering freshness.

Cold noodles with sesame sauce

Walking along the streets and alleys of Zhangjiajie, you can see food stalls selling cold noodles with sesame sauce everywhere. Around the year, the noodles are popular among people of all ages.

Pickled radish

Tujia pickled radish has its distinctive taste. In Zhangjiajie, as long as there are crowds, there will be stalls selling pickled radish. The juicy radish, with a tingly sweetness, is crisp and tasty. The combination of sweet radish and spicy seasoning makes a tasty and appetizing dish.

Tujia glutinous rice cake

There is a saying in Tujia Ethnic Group—“The 28th of the twelfth lunar month is a day for rice pounding.”When the Spring Festival approaches, every household in Zhangjiajie will make glutinous rice cakes. “People will put the glutinous rice in a stone container and then pound them into a round paste, shaped like a full moon.

The larger one is 50 centimeters in diameter and the ordinary one is about 13.33 centimeters in diameter and 1 centimeter-2.67 centimeters in thickness. After finishing the smaller ones, women who are experts of rice cake making will make several larger glutinous rice cakes with the weight ranging from about 2.5 kg to more than 5 kg.

This symbolizes “a bumper grain harvest” and shows the generosity of the Tujia people. Pounding glutinous rice cakes is a labor-intensive physical activity which is usually done by two young men. Standing in front of each other, the two men knead the rice first and then beat it into paste.

Even if it is cold and snowy, they will burst out in perspiration. The process of making glutinous rice cakes is sophisticated. With beeswax or tea soil in their hands, they rub the rice into lumps and then press them with hands or a wooden board until the rice becomes soft and smooth.

Crabs with local flavor

Fish with local flavor

Edited by Li Ling 
2019 Zhangjiajie Bureau of Culture, Tourism, Broadcasting and Sports