The majority of residences in Xishuangbanna are Dai Minority. Dai cuisine, renowned among Yunnan Cuisine, takes sticky rice, chicken, and aquatic products as major ingredients and seasons them with wild flavor, especially sour and sweet. Chili peppers, cilantro and lime juice are where much of the flavor in Dai food comes from, but lemongrass, fermented soybeans and a cornucopia of herbs you won't find elsewhere are also used to create unforgettable taste sensations. The representative dishes are Fragrant Pineapple Rice, Fish Boiled with Sour Bamboo Shoots and a special salsa Nanmi.
Chunk the fresh pineapple; serve peanuts, garlic, sesame seeds and sticky rice piping hot in a hollowed-out pineapple. Then one could be done. Dai-style pineapple rice is just as good as its Thai cousin and features something you won't find elsewhere: purple rice. The purple rice adds much to the dish's texture and plays an earthier flavor than regular sticky rice.
Fish Boiled with Sour Bamboo Shoots
Sour bamboo shoots, indispensable in the Dai kitchen, can be used as a seasoning ingredient or a dish. The Dai people take young bamboo shoots in spring, cut them into fine slices and pickle them. Fish boiled with sour bamboo shoots is a favorite dish of the Dai. To prepare it, one needs to fry the sour bamboo shoots for a short while, add some water, and when the water boils, put the cleaned fish into the sour soup. When the fish is done, add some green pepper. The dish will be ready in a moment. It is tasty and appetizing. Chicken, spare ribs and beef can be cooked in the same way.
Spicy Dipping Sauce
In Xishuangbanna there is a unique fruit called the tree tomato which looks like an elongated orange tomato and grows on trees. The Dai roast it with garlic; mash it up with loads of fresh chili pepper, lime juice, cilantro and salt. The end result is a spectacular Dai-style salsa that is perfect for dipping fresh local vegetables and herbs. Do not be rush with this stuff, as the burn is slow and takes a while to catch up to your taste buds.