Yunnan smelly dishes that may overwhelm you

The news was updated on September 5, 2019. 

Smelliness is actually a different fragrance.

“It smells terrible but tastes great.” This saying has encouraged crowds of diners to try their first stinky dish.

Among the Chinese smelly dishes, the Changsha stinky tofu, the Beijing bean juice and the Guangxi snail jelly have countless fans.

In Yunnan, houttuynia, sour bamboo shoots, stinky tofu, smelly vegetables, and stinky ginseng are emitting unique flavors, waiting for the diners.


Houttuynia in Yunnan

Houttuynia cordata (also known as fish mint) is rated by netizens as one of the ten most unpalatable dishes.

How smelly is Houttuynia? For those who don’t like it, the dish reminds them of a dead, smelly fish.

Houttuynia in Yunnan

But Yunnan people really love this smell, putting the vegetable into cold dishes, soup, and fried meat.

The Yunnan cooks tried many ways to bring out the “fragrance” of Houttuynia, so that more people will fall in love with it.

Sour bamboo shoots

Sour bamboo shoots in Yunnan

As a pickled dish, the smelly bamboo shoots are highly popular in the Yunnan localities of Xishuangbanna and Dehong. Locals say they simply can’t live without the dish.

Sour bamboo shoots dish in Yunnan

Interestingly, the same dish can be slightly different to individual diners. They may say it is fragrant, smelly, sour, monkey-like, or others.

Stinky tofu

Stinky tofu in Yunnan

Unlike its Changsha peer that is black and smelly, Yunnan stinky tofu is white and less stinky.

Stinky tofu in Yunnan

In Yunnan, the stinky tofu bits are mostly grilled before serving, and the grilled Jianshui tofu is the most famous. 

Stinky tofu in Yunnan

Grilled stinky tofu is particular to Yunnan. In south Yunnan’s Jianshui County, grilled tofu stalls are highly visible around the ancient town. A well-grilled yellow tofu can immensely satisfy the diner.

Smelly vegetable

Smelly vegetable in Yunnan

The stinky vegetable, with its academic name being Acacia pennata, is long, thorny but tender leaves that are edible. We do not know why Yunnan people love the thorny wild vegetable.

Smelly vegetable dish in Yunnan

The stinky vegetable can be cooked into soup, fried with egg or cooked with fish, resulting in unique local dishes.

Stinky ginseng

Stinky ginseng in Yunnan

The stinky ginseng is a plant particular to Yunnan, with its roots giving off a strong smell. Many would shrink from its odor, let alone a bite on it.

But Yunnan folks love the stinky roots because of its nourishing nature.

Stinky ginseng dish in Yunnan

Washed and stewed with chicken or pork ribs, the stinky ginseng will give off much less odor. So just try it and you may get used to smelly dishes.

In the eyes of stinky-dish lovers, smelliness is the essence of fragrance.

In Yunnan, stinky but tasty dishes await you. If you are brave enough, you will definitely make a difference in appreciating the food culture here.

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