Hunan Cuisine, also known as ' Xiang' Cuisine, is renowned as one of the Eight Cuisines of China. It is a must for tourists to try some local dishes when visiting Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province. It features a fine and delicate appearance together with a hot and spicy flavor. It is widely known that the major part of the Hunan Province is a lowland area with relatively high humidity. Therefore, the local people have developed the habit of eating capsicum to combat the humidity and induce a feeling of coolness. Hunan Cuisine has a hot and strong savor.
Chairman Mao's Red-braised Pork
This dish is so linked with Mao Zedong that today on menus in China and the U.S. alike it still bears his name. The Chairman is said to have loved the braised pork belly fragrant with star anise, ginger, chilies, and cassia bark so much that he insisted his Hunanese chefs preparing it for him in Beijing. "Men eat it to build their brains," Chairman Mao's nephew, Mao Anping, once told Dunlop.
Spicy Chicken Cubes (La Ziji)
This is probably the most typical local dish. It was said that the one who hasn't eaten this dish is like one who has never tried Hunan Cuisine. Just stir-fry the chicken dices with pepper, capsicum, vinegar, shaohsing wine over high heat. The finished dish should have a bright color and spicy flavor. This dish is easy to describe, but very hard to cook.
Fried Stinky Tofu (Smelly Tofu)
Don't be terrified by its special smell or you will miss a unique Chinese delicacy. Although the dish does not smell very good and has an awkward appearance, it tastes quite pleasant. The outside of the tofu is crispy with a little salty savor and the interior is tender. It was said that Chairman Mao Zedong had tried this snack when he visited the city in 1958.