The Festivals of Miao Ethnic Minority

Different Miao communities celebrate different festivals and, in some cases, celebrate the same festival but at different times. However, the Miao New Year, the Sister’s Meal Festival and the Lusheng Festival are considered the most culturally significant and are celebrated by almost all Miao communities.

Miao New Year

The Miao people celebrate a different New Year’s Day to that traditionally adhered to in China. It falls sometime during September to October according to the their lunar calendar. However, there is no exact date for the New Year’s Day each year and the official date is only announced two months prior to the festivities. In southeast Guizhou, the Miao community celebrate their New Year Festival on the “Rabbit Day” or the “Ox Day” of the lunar calendar according to ancient Miao tradition. During the New Year festival, women will wear traditional clothes and there will be large parades. The locals will celebrate by beating drums, dancing to the music of the lusheng, horse racing and sometimes horse fighting or bull-fighting.

The Sister’s Meal Festival

The Sister’s Meal Festival is considered to be the oldest version of what we know as Valentine’s Day. It is a favourite festival among the Miao communities in the Guizhou counties of Taijiang and Jianhe. It is celebrated from the 16th to the 18th of March according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Before the festival, Miao girls will go to the mountains to gather wild flowers and leaves, which are used to make coloured dye. This dye is used to make glutinous rice known as “sister’s rice”. When the festival begins, the Miao girls will adorn themselves in their finest silver jewellery and meet by the banks of a river to make “sister’s rice”. They dye the rice blue, pink, yellow and white to represent spring, summer, autumn and winter respectively.

Finally the men will arrive. They will each single out the woman they love and sing to them. The woman responds to these songs by giving the man a cup of rice wine and the sister’s rice, which is wrapped in a handkerchief covered in symbols. If the rice is offered with a pair of red chopsticks, it means the woman returns the man’s affection. If only one chopstick is offered, it is a polite refusal. If a piece of garlic or a red chilli is placed on the rice, this indicates a flat refusal. Pine needles scattered on the rice means the man should present silks and colourful cloths to the girl and she will wait for him to woo her. This festival is particularly important in terms of courtship, as it is one of the few occasions when men and women from other Miao villages are able to mingle freely.

The Lusheng Festival

The Lusheng Festival is considered the most significant of all the Miao festivals and is celebrated widely throughout Guizhou, Yunnan and Sichuan. It is celebrated from the 16th to the 20th day of January according to the Chinese lunar calendar. During the Lusheng Festival, Miao people from surrounding villages will all come together in traditional dress and the men will all bring their lusheng. The men will play the lusheng whilst the women dance. They believe that this ceremony will bring a good harvest and good health to the people in the coming year. However, the festival is not simply about playing the lusheng and also features other activities typical of the Miao, such as singing, bullfighting, and horse racing.

Although you can catch the Lusheng Festival in many Miao villages, the grandest one is considered to be the one held near Kaili in Guizhou. If you visit Guizhou in March, we recommend you visit Zhouxi Town, which is about 16 kilometres from Kaili city, where they hold a magnificent Lusheng Festival. If you miss it then there’s no need to worry! In Huangping County, about 75 kilometres outside of Kaili City, there’s another Lusheng Festival in November.

Other Festivals

In Yunnan, the Miao people also celebrate a festival called “Stepping over Flower Mountains”. Childless couples often repeat their vows to the fertility god at this time of year. As part of a religious gesture, they will offer wine to the young people in their village. The young people will then dance under a pine tree which has a bottle of wine hanging from it. It is said that many young men and women fall in love during the festivities and childless couples hope that this will help bring them children.

Other commonly celebrated Miao festivals include the Dragon Boat Festival (national holiday), the Flower Mountain Festival (May 5th), the Tasting New Rice Festival (between June and July), the Pure Brightness Festival, and the Beginning of Autumn Festival.

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Miao Spiritual Beliefs

miao Spiritual BeliefsSpiritually speaking, the Miao people are great believers in animism and shamanism. Animism is the spiritual belief that non-human entities, such as animals, plants, inanimate objects and natural phenomena, possess a spiritual essence while shamanism is the belief that certain people, known as shamans, can interact with the spirit world in a meaningful way. Some villages will have shamans whose main purpose is to exorcise evil spirits or recall the soul of a sick person. The Miao also practice ancestor worship and believe in a wide variety of spirits. Animal sacrifice is also widespread throughout many Miao communities.

 

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Miao Customs

Receiving Guests

miao minoroty 01Etiquette is incredibly important to the Miao people and certain customs must be adhered to, particularly when it comes to welcoming guests. Guests who have travelled a long way are given what is called “horn spirit”, which is a locally distilled alcoholic spirit that is specifically reserved for special occasions. If you visit any of the larger Miao villages, such as Xijiang, during national holidays or festivals, then you’ll be treated to this ceremony and be invited to try the “horn spirit”. Traditionally Miao people will receive any esteemed guest by slaughtering one of their chickens for the guest to eat. This is followed by a custom known as the poultry ceremony.

In this ceremony, a chicken is killed, cooked and distributed in a specific way. The head is given to the eldest person in attendance and the leg is given to the youngest. The heart is then presented to the guest of honour by a senior member of the host family, who holds it delicately in their chopsticks. The guest must then share the heart with the person who presented it to them. This gesture illustrates how many of the Miao customs have been developed with the aim of bringing Miao communities and clans together. It is important to note that, unlike in Han Chinese culture, it is considered very insulting to overeat in a Miao household if you are a guest. It is better to excuse yourself from eating when you are full, rather than trying to eat too much.

Family Reunions

When a married woman returns to her parent’s home to visit or when other family members come to visit, they will carry a chicken, about 2 to 3 litres of glutinous rice, a large piece of salted or fresh meat and a fish. These gifts are often simply referred to as a “mixed bundle”. When the guests arrive, the host family will call upon all of the cousins, paternal family members and members of the village to unwrap the bundle. They will all drink liquor and have dinner together. The dinner will be made up of the delicacies that the guests have brought and the glutinous rice will be shared with all of the members of the village.

miao dinnerOn the second day through to the third or fourth day, the families who shared the food that the guests brought should in turn invite the guests to their house to eat. The guests will normally visit between four to five families per day, but will always have dinner at the host’s house. This custom is called “disturbing the village” and has been practised since ancient times. It is an important ritual for improving bonds between distant members of the family.

When the guests leave, the host family and anyone who shared the food they had brought should send gifts to them. After the guests have left, the host family will leave their door open until the guests are long gone, in order to show the guests that they are always welcome to come again. As the guests leave the village, the host will see them off. Traditionally the host must lead them along the main road instead of a smaller path, which symbolically means they are wishing their guests a safe journey home. When a guest of significant importance leaves, all of the paternal family members and villagers will see them off. The women will adorn their shoulders with colourful cloths to express good will and the guest should wear these cloths until they get home out of politeness. The women will then propose toasts to the guest and sing what are called “flying songs”, or seeing off songs, loudly and clearly. The guest will then respond with their own song before departing.

 

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Xijiang Village

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Xijiang prides itself on being the largest Miao village in China, and perhaps the largest Miao village in the world. It is actually made up of a cluster of Miao villages, so it is more like a township than a village proper. About 1,000 families and 6,000 people call Xijiang home, and of these 99.5% of them are from the Miao ethnic minority. Xijiang is in Leishan County and is located about 35 kilometres from Kaili City in Guizhou. It is nestled on the northern side of Leigong Hill, surrounded by mountains covered in rich greenery and split in half by the fiercely beautiful Baishui or White Water River. The Diaojiaolou, a kind of stilted wooden dwelling built by the Miao people, stretch up the hillsides on either side of the river. They look almost unreal, with thick wooden poles supporting the backs of the houses so that they appear to be hanging off of the hillside.

The banks of the river are connected by vast numbers of stunning Wind-Rain bridges, which look like tiny palaces hovering over the rushing water. Although many of the houses in the village have been newly built, there are still plenty of traditional houses and structures throughout the village that were all hand-built by local carpenters long before the village became a tourist attraction. If you walk along the paths used by farmers to reach the rice paddies, you’ll be treated with a wonderful view of the rice terraces and the more traditional Diaojiaolou.

miao life 02The main, tourist oriented part of the village is made up of two streets: an old or ancient street and a modern-built street. We recommend a visit to the old street, as it boasts many wonderful snack stalls, restaurants, and stores selling locally produced craftworks such as batik textiles, silverwork and fine embroidery. The Miao people are famed for their skill at these particular arts so a small, handmade trinket from Xijiang village would make the perfect souvenir. If you want a real taste of what Miao life is like, we recommend you try the Long Table Banquet, where you and your friends can share a table and sample a few of the small local dishes. It’s the perfect opportunity to try an array of different local delicacies and, at 28 RMB per person (about £2.80), it is very reasonably priced. Other delicious local foods include glutinous rice cake, la rou (a type of locally cured, smoky bacon) and fish in sour soup.

xijiang03Xijiang is also home to the Miao Nationality Museum, which is made up of eleven exhibition halls and houses wonderful displays of cultural artefacts, traditional dress, architectural marvels and works of art that are sure to give any visitor a better understanding of Miao culture. To enter the museum, you’ll need to produce your entrance ticket to the village. A performance takes place twice every day in the village, once at 11:30 and once at 17:00, in the village square. It is a singing and dancing show where senior members of the village sing ancient songs in Miao dialect that tell wonderful tales of Miao folklore and history. Some of the songs are joyful and uplifting while others are quite soulful and haunting. The performances can take place at slightly different times each day, so be sure to confirm the exact schedule of performances while you are there.

If you want to take in the panoramic view of the entire village, there’s a sightseeing platform where visitors can relax and take photographs. If you like, you can even rent Miao traditional dress and have your photograph taken in it or simply appreciate the beautiful Miao girls, decked out in silvery splendour, relaxing on the platform or entertaining tourists. At night, the view from the platform is particularly attractive, as the twinkling gas lamps of the houses below and the balmy night air are both soothing and mystifying. The hum of the elders chatting in the streets, the chirping of the insects and the faint sounds and smells of delicious meals wafting in the dark air will make you feel truly at home in this isolated place.

xijiang02Since Xijiang is nestled deep within Leigongshan National Park, it is also a perfect place to go hiking. Stunning countryside, mountains and rice paddies stretch for miles around Xijiang village, so a hike can last you anywhere from a few minutes to several hours if you so choose. It’s a wonderful way to discover new landscapes, get close to the beautiful rice paddies, and watch farmers plough the land with their oxen. We recommend visiting Xijiang anytime between May and July, as the spring and summer seasons here boast the best weather for hiking and the village looks particularly beautiful when the local flora is in bloom. However, if you travel to Xijiang during January then you’ll be able to see how the locals celebrate Miao New Year. The Miao New Year Festival is celebrated from December 1st till December 15th according to the Chinese lunar calendar so, if you want to see it, we advise that you check the exact dates of the festival before you go.

To reach Xijiang, there are two direct buses from Guiyang East Bus Station that leave at 9:00 and 15:00 respectively. Alternatively you can take the bus from Guiyang East Bus Station to Kaili, which takes about two hours, and then take the bus from Kaili General Bus Station to Xijiang. The buses between Kaili and Xijiang are far more regular and it means that, if you don’t want to stay overnight in Xijiang, you can return to Kaili to find a hotel. However, there are plenty of wonderful guesthouses in Xijiang that are all reasonably priced and, at some special guesthouses, you will even be greeted by some local Miao women, who will place a cotton necklace with a boiled egg inside it around your neck and offer you a bull’s horn filled with liquor to drink. This is Miao welcoming tradition and, if you get the chance, it’s a wonderful way to feel like a real part of the village. Langdeshang is another, smaller Miao village that is only 2 hours’ drive from Xijiang. Regular public buses and minibuses travel from Xijiang to Langdeshang every day so, if you fancy visiting a Miao village that isn’t quite so tourist oriented, we recommend you take the trip.

 

 

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Miao Agriculture and Craftworks

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The cultivation of rice and maize are the chief means of subsistence for the Miao people. Rice, maize, millet and sweet potatoes are their staple foods, although in more northern areas they eat maize, buckwheat, potatoes and oats. Miao food typically employs sour and peppery flavours to enhance their dishes. Although the Miao diet is relatively simple, Miao dishes such as Fish in Sour Soup and snacks such as La Rou (a kind of cured, smoked bacon) are popular throughout Guizhou for their rich, flavoursome taste.

miao02The craftwork of the Miao people is particularly magnificent. Miao men are accomplished at silverwork and all of the silver adornments worn by the Miao women will have been made by Miao silversmiths. The artistry of the Miao traditional dress is in part thanks to these silversmiths and in part thanks to the Miao women’s aptitude for embroidery. Their skill at embroidery is renowned throughout China and the Miao women embroider all of their own clothes. The main colours used in Miao embroidery are red and green, although colours will vary between different subgroups of Miao people. The patterns and figures embroidered on clothing are based partly on the natural world but also partly on the artists’ imagination. This is why dragons and phoenixes also feature in many designs and why certain animals, such as fish and birds, and plants will look different compared to how they appear in real life. Miao embroidery is famed for its delicacy, imaginative designs and use of vibrant colour.

苗族银饰The Miao women are also famed for their skill at the art of batik and their technique dates back over 1,000 years. First, the women use a knife that has been dipped in hot wax to draw a pattern onto the cloth. The cloth is then boiled in dye, which melts the wax. Once the wax has melted off, the cloth is removed from the boiling dye. The rest of the cloth will be coloured by the dye but the pattern under the wax will have remained the original colour of the cloth. These batik cloths are incredibly colourful and, although the method seems crude, the patterns on the cloth can be wonderfully elaborate.

The craftworks of the Miao people are beyond compare and look even more beautiful when worn during festivals or daily life. If you’re travelling through Guizhou during festival time, we strongly recommend you visit any of the Miao villages and marvel at the stunning traditional dress of the Miao people.

 

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Miao Traditional Dress

miao Traditional Dress

The daily clothing worn by Miao people will differ from place to place and many of the Miao subgroups are designated by the colour of their clothes, such as the Hmub Miao of southeast Guizhou who are often referred to as the Black Miao because of their characteristically indigo coloured clothing. In northwest Guizhou and northeast Yunnan, the Miao men will typically wear linen jackets that are colourfully embroidered and woollen blankets draped over their shoulders that are decorated in geometric patterns. In other areas, the men will wear short jackets that are buttoned down the front or to the left, long trousers with wide belts and long black scarves. In west Hunan and northeast Guizhou, the women wear jackets buttoned on the right and trousers that have delicately embroidered collars, sleeves and trouser legs. In other areas, the women wear high-collared short jackets and pleated skirts of varying length. These pleated skirts can have hundreds or even thousands of vertical pleats.

miao01The pleated skirts worn by many young Miao women are culturally significant and wonderful legends abound as to how they came to be. The legend called “the Origin of the Pleated Skirts” states that, in order to differentiate themselves from other ethnic minorities, a mother and daughter set about sewing a unique skirt for the Miao people. They thought long and hard about what the skirt should look like but to no avail. Later, as they were walking through the countryside, they came across a kind of local fungus. The shape of this fungus inspired them and they set about sewing a skirt that would imitate the pleats of the fungus. Once it was complete, they wore the skirt to the flower site to thread flowers onto it. Other Miao women saw the skirt and all immediately praised it. Eventually, these pleated skirts spread throughout the Miao villages and even women from different branches of the Miao people began to wear pleated skirts of different lengths.

These pleated skirts can be divided into three lengths: long, mid-length and short. Long skirts reach near the ankle, mid-length skirts are below the knee and short skirts are above the knee. The length of the skirt can be used to distinguish different subgroups of Miao. For example, in Leishan there are a group of Miao women referred to as “short skirt Miao” because their skirts are only about 20 centimetres long. The legend behind this short skirt goes that a long time ago, in ancient times, there was a very brave and handsome Miao hunter. One day he caught a beautiful golden pheasant and sent it to his beloved, a girl called Abang. To express her gratitude, Abang wove cloth by hand and then stitched and embroidered it to imitate the feathers of the golden pheasant. When the hunter returned, she wore the beautifully decorated short skirt and looked as magnificent as the golden pheasant. Thereafter, this style of richly coloured and delicately embroidered short skirt became popular in Leishan.

Miao01On top of their beautifully embroidered clothes, Miao women are also famed for the glittering silver adornments that they wear during festival time. The Miao people regard silver as a symbol of wealth and so have a particular fondness for it. They also believe silver symbolises light and good health, so wearing silver will ward off evil spirits, stave off natural disasters and bring good fortune. When it comes to the ornamental silver worn by the Miao women, the heavier the better, so some festival outfits can weigh upwards of 20 to 30 jin (about 10 to 15 kg).

A typical festival outfit worn by a Miao woman will include a hat or crown, horns, a comb, earrings or ear pendants, a neckband, a necklace, a collar, bracelets, and rings, all made of silver. Most of these will have been handmade by Miao silversmiths. The decorations are typically in four styles: symmetrical style, balanced style, connected style and radiating style. They usually feature patterns involving dragons, phoenixes, flowers and birds.

The most striking of these adornments is the silver hat or crown. Common motifs for the silver hats are a magpie stepping on plum, a golden pheasant calling out, a peacock spreading its tail, and a male and female phoenix perched together. These motifs can vary in appearance from region to region. For example, the phoenix hat of the Huangping region features hundreds of silver flowers, four birds and one phoenix. The silver pieces at the back of this hat are meant to imitate the phoenix’s tail feathers.

In some Miao villages, such as the ones near Kaili, Leishan, Danzhai and Taijiang, the silver horns are the most important adornment. They vary in thickness and are meant to look like the horns of a bull. The horns are each typically 50 to 70 centimetres long. They normally have patterns hammered into them, such as phoenixes or dragons holding pearls, and are sometimes decorated with feathers or tassels. The collar is another indispensable silver adornment for Miao women and is sometimes called a “moon plate” because it is shaped like a crescent moon. Miao women will also wear either 3 to 5 bracelets or 7 to 8 bracelets on each wrist. These bracelets come in several different styles and can even be made to look like dragons.

The Chinese often refer to Miao women as “fairies” because of the ethereal appearance that their festival clothes give them. They are considered so beautiful and majestic in their traditional dress that they appear almost otherworldly. If you plan on visiting any of the Miao villages, we strongly recommend that you aim to arrive during festival time and catch these fairies flitting about the villages, singing and dancing in their glittering splendour.

 

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The Performance of Miao Ethnic Minority

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Performances in Miao villages will always be set to music and, when it comes to the Miao people, the lusheng[1] is the instrument of choice, although other instruments like the suona[2] and the copper drum are also popular. During many festivals, the lusheng dance will be the focal attraction. It is a traditional dance performed by the Miao people in southeast Guizhou. This style of dance can be divided into two types: lined dance and stepping dance. In the lined dance, the performers will hold their lusheng, stand in a line and dance while turning around, with the performer playing the largest lusheng as their axis. In the stepping dance, two performers will play lusheng of the same size and act as the leaders of the dance. The other performers will circle around them and follow their movements.

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The stepping dance in Rongshui County, Guangxi, is considered particularly magnificent as dozens of lusheng are played and hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of people will join in the dance. It is a true spectacle of joy and a wonderful opportunity to hear the folk music played on the lusheng. In western Guizhou, Yunnan and Sichuan the Miao people have become particularly famous for their special, acrobatic lusheng dance. Normally it involves one, two, four or eight performers. For example, in Yuanyang, Yunnan, a performer will climb up a decorated wooden pole that is several metres high whilst still playing the lusheng. While continuing to play, they will pick an object off of the top of the pole and climb down. Finally, when they are one or two metres from the ground, they will somersault off of the pole while still playing their lusheng. Other acrobatic tricks include playing the lusheng upside down, playing it whilst performing rolls, and playing it whilst jumping over objects.

 

[1] Lusheng: A wind instrument made of multiple bamboo pipes, each fitted with a free reed, that are all in turn fitted into a large, hardwood pipe. Normally there are five or six bamboo pipes that are each of a different pitch. Air is blown into the hardwood pipe to create sound. They vary in size from small, handheld ones to ones that are several metres in length.

[2] Suona: A Chinese wind instrument. It is made up of a horn with a double reed that makes a distinctively loud and high-pitched sound. It comes in several sizes and the size of the horn affects the sound it makes. It is used throughout China in ritual music and folk music.

 

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Miao Marriage Customs

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On top of social bonding, Miao customs become particularly complex and significant during courtship. Nowadays Miao men and women are free to mingle and premarital sex is tolerated within the community. Men and women can select their own husbands and wives, although certain customs are still adhered to. During the Miao New Year, groups of girls and boys from different villages will pass a ball to one another as part of the festivities. This act is designed to introduce them to one another from an early age and help deepen their affections for one another.

By the time they are older, they will take part in a courtship ritual that is made up of two main stages. The first stage, known as the “walking around” stage or sometimes the “visiting villages”, “meeting girls” or “stepping the moon” stage, is when men from surrounding villages will travel to one village to meet the women. This usually takes place during major festivals and will be held on a designated site near the village. The second stage takes place directly after the first and it is when the men sing antiphonal love songs to the women.

Sister’s Meal FestivalAlthough they are not as well-known for their singing as the Dong ethnic minority, the Miao people are very fond of singing and dancing. Their songs do not rhyme, are easy to understand and can vary in length from a few lines to more than 15,000. Through this antiphonal singing, women and men can get to know each other’s backgrounds better. Once a man likes and a woman and it is established that she returns his affections, they will secrete themselves from the designated site and sing or talk privately. After they have gotten to know each other over a period of time, they will exchange love tokens called “diubabin” and decide to get married. When a man and woman fall in love, people in the village will all prepare and eat glutinous rice cakes. These glutinous rice cakes are also given out during the Sister’s Meal Festival, a Miao festival similar to that of Valentine’s Day, and are regularly exchanged between boys and girls as a token of affection.

 

MIao crying weddingDuring weddings, special glutinous rice cakes with patterns of a dragon and a phoenix will be eaten and established couples will drink from what is called the “nuptial cup”. This is where partners pour the liquor into each other’s mouth or link arms and then drink from their own cup. Toasts like these are usually proposed by women. Normally the first toast is made to the host, followed by toasts to the guests. In some cases, the first toast is made to the eldest person attending the feast. Traditionally two cups of horn spirit must be drunk as part of a toast. The Miao believe this is a fitting number, as people walk with two feet so they can drink two cups of horn spirit.

 

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Guizhou Cuisine

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In Guizhou, the local saying goes: “without eating a sour dish for three days, people will stagger with weak legs”. Guizhou cuisine is simply so delectable that the locals believe they can’t go a day without having one of their signature spicy, sour dishes. Guizhou cuisine is similar to that of its neighbouring provinces, Sichuan and Hunan, in that it employs predominantly spicy, peppery and sour flavours. However, the sourness of Guizhou cuisine is different to that of Hunan’s and it is not as potently spicy as Sichuan cuisine. Signature dishes in Guizhou are designed to match the saucy tang of the local liquors, such as Maotai liquor, as the two will often be consumed together.

This style of cuisine is renowned for its use of pickled, salty vegetables called yancai. Many different vegetables can be used to make yancai. These vegetables are dried when they are fresh, without any exposure to the sunlight. After they are dried, they are placed in containers, salted, sealed and then left to ferment for four to five days before they are ready to be consumed. These pickled foods are not only delectable, but are said to have medicinal properties. Guizhou cuisine is also characterised by its liberal use of dried red chillies and salty powered chilli dips. Although Guizhou cuisine differs from region to region, and sometimes from city to city, we’ve include an array of signature dishes from Guizhou that are sure to get your mouth watering.

Guizhou Hotpot (贵州火锅)

贵州火锅

Like other styles of hotpot, Guizhou Hotpot offers an array of different styles depending on location, including Kaili Fish Hot Pot with Sour Soup and Guiyang Green Pepper Young Chicken Hot Pot. These hotpots are typically peppery, sour and full of dried red chillies to give that distinctive spiciness. The base soup of Guizhou Hotpot is famous throughout China for its unique flavour and tantalising smell. The soup is boiled at the table and then you add raw ingredients, such as strips of beef or tofu, depending on your preference. All of the food is cooked at the table and the soup itself can be topped up throughout the meal. We recommend that, before you start cooking, you get a bowl of spices to dip the food in once it is cooked.

Sour Soup Fish (酸汤鱼)

酸汤鱼Thanks to Guizhou’s ethnic diversity, it is one of the few provinces in China where cuisine from ethnic minorities can be enjoyed. Sour Soup Fish is a perfect example, as it is a staple dish in Miao culture that originates from Kaili. The soup broth is made of pickled cabbage and pickled chillies to give it a hot sour tang, along with ginger, wild tomatoes, shallots, pepper and a few other vegetables. The liberal use of an unusual Chinese spice known as huajiao, which is made from the berries of the Chinese prickly ash tree, gives the broth a unique flavour that would be unfamiliar to a non-Chinese palate. After the broth is bubbling and the aroma of the soup fills the air, the sweet, clear white flesh of the river fish is added. The river fish used in this dish is always locally sourced and tastes incredibly fresh. You must be careful when eating the fish, as there are many tiny bones in the meat.

糟辣椒脆皮鱼Crackling Fish with Zao Pepper (糟辣椒脆皮鱼)

Zao pepper is a spice made up of fermented chilli paste that is unique not only to China but specifically to Guizhou province. The dish is made by breading a fresh carp in a mixture made from flour, eggs and salt. The fish is then fried so that it is mouth-wateringly crispy on the outside but fluffy and moist on the inside. After the fish is fried, ginger, zao pepper and water are added to the pan to make the sauce.

Gongbao Chicken or Kungpao Chicken (宫保鸡丁)

宫保鸡丁Although Gongbao Chicken is traditionally seen as a Sichuan dish, the creator of the dish, Ding Baozhen (1820-1886), was born in Guizhou. Ding Baozhen was an influential official during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and he created this dish to entertain his guests. Once the recipe got out, Gongbao Chicken became so popular that it is now widely available throughout China. The main ingredient, diced chicken, is fried with peppers, sauces, salt, vinegar, ginger, and garlic, although regional variations sometimes include nuts or other vegetables. The dish is distinctly spicy and tastes delightfully fresh.

Huaxi Beef Rice Noodles (花溪牛肉粉)

花溪牛肉粉This noodle dish originated from and was named after the district of Huaxi in Guiyang city. Although this dish may look simple, it is notoriously complicated to make. The noodle broth has an aromatically spicy taste. The dish itself is made from diced beef, handmade rice noodles, coriander, huajiao, chillies, pickled cabbage and ginger. The pickled cabbage is what gives this dish its sour tang. We recommend adding sesame oil or chilli oil to the broth to taste.

 

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