Classified as part of Hunan Cuisine, Changsha cuisine is one of China's eight major culinary disciplines. Hunan cuisine is characterized as hot and sour, and its dishes are often as chili-laden as those of Sichuan. Garlic, shallots, and the infinitely famous Liuyang Lobster sauce also play large parts in Hunan cuisine’s seasoning process. These peppers and other piquant spices open the pores, helping residents keep cool in the blazing, humid climate. In addition to being spicy, food is typically greasy with an enlivening aroma.
The cooking skills for the Hunan cuisine reached a high standard as early as the Western Han Dynasty, giving it a history of more than 2,100 years. Hunan is located in southeastern China along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, north of the Five Ridges. It contains rivers, lakes, mountains, rolling hills, plains, and pools, which provide abundant delicacies, such as game, fish, shrimp, crab, and turtle. Making full use of these rich resources, local people created a wide variety of delicacies.
Hunan cuisine consists of more than 4,000 dishes, among which more than 300 are very famous. Hunan food is characterized by its hot and sour flavor, fresh aroma, greasiness, deep color, and the prominence of the main flavor in each dish. It consists of regional cuisines from the Xiangjiang River Valley, the Tongting Lake region, and the western mountainous area.
Changsha people boast to be the best gourmand of China and here people spend a lot of time eating. Street dining and restaurants in the city make every visitor's mouth hot. No matter the featured snacks - 'Stinky Tofu' and 'Sisters'Rice Balls' in Huogongdian (Fire Palace) or the famous spicy shrimps at Nanmenkou, the many types of delicious local food will not disappoint any guests.
Featured Hunan Specials
Crisp Sesame Duck (Maren Xiangsu Ya)
A duck is fried in peanut oil until its skin turns golden. Spicy seasonings and sesame oil are then added to the fried duck. The finished duck is cut into pieces and made into assorted cold dishes. It is crisp, tender and has a savory taste.
Spicy Chicken Cubes (Mala Zi Ji)
This is probably the most typical local dish. It was said that the one who hasn't eaten this dish equals is one who has never eaten Hunan Cuisine.
Non-Yolk Eggs with Mushroom (Huagu Wu Danhuang)
It is a traditional dish of Changsha. This dish enjoyed a high reputation in the 1930s. Customers will gasp in admiration when eating eggs without yolk. No one will be surprised by a plate of eggs with a mushroom soup. However, when you try it, you will find the tender eggs have no yolk inside and the delicious soup will melt in your mouth.
The chef makes a tiny hole in the bottom of the eggshells and removes the eggs. Then the egg white with a prepared chicken soup and salt are put back into the shells again and cooked. The most delicate of these will have a smooth cover and tender taste.
Flavored Snack Food in Changsha
Fried Stinky Tofu (Smelly Tofu)
Don't be scared away by the word 'stinky' in its name, although it does not smell very good and has an awkward appearance, it tastes quite pleasant. The outside is crisp with a little salty savor and the interior is tender. It was said that Chairman Mao Zedong tried this snack when he visited the city in 1958.
Sisters' Rice Balls
These are a kind of rice balls with fillings of meat or sugar. The meatballs have mushroom pieces, meat, and spring onions inside and are made into the shape of pomegranate while the sweet balls have the fillings of sugar, dates, meat and sweet-scented osmanthus and often resemble a peach. On the day of happy events, the two are presented in contrasting colors to create a happy atmosphere.
Deyuan Steamed Bun
Deyuan Steamed Bun has thin skin and big stuffing. The sweet stuffing is made of candy, rose candy or sweet-scented osmanthus candy. The meat stuffing is made of pork, dried mushroom and jelly oil. Deyuan was built during Guangxu Period of Qing Dynasty. It got its name from "where there is morality; where there is happiness, there is endurance" from the ancient book "The Spring and Autumn with commentary".
Liu Defang Tangyuan (Dumpling in Soup)
Liu Defang Tangyuan is a famous snack of Changsha City. It is sold in Liu Defang Tangyuan Restaurant only, which was established in Daoguang Period (1812-1850) of Qing Dynasty. Liu Defang, whose nickname was Liu San, was born in a poor family and sold tangyuan to make a living. Due to the good material and nice taste, his tangyuan was very famous. In 1852, Liu Defang went to buy flour and found that there was a sycee in the flour. So he went to buy six bags of flours and got another six sycees. After earning some money, he bought a restaurant to run tangyuan. For the nice taste of its tangyuan, the restaurant has been very popular until now.