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Naxi Cuisine

 Naxi cuisine mirrors a myriad of influences, such as Tibetan, Sichuan, Bai and Hui. The result is a wide range of selections and a blend of spicy, sour and sweet flavor. Rice, wheat flour, corn constitute Naxi people’s staple. They start a day with simple breakfast involving bun or steamed bread called Shuimen Baba(水焖粑粑). Lunch and dinner are richer, with soup and several other main dishes served. During spring and winter, hotpot dishes are prepared to dispel cold, while in summer, rice wine is imbibed to refresh. They also share the same taste of the Tibetans and Hui people, and find Butter Tea, Beef Soup and Air-dried Beef irresistible. Naxi cuisine falls into banquet, festival and everyday style.

Famous Naxi Dishes:

Steamed Matsutake(酿松茸): Characterized by its spicy-aromatic odor, Matsutake, a most sought-after delicacy around the world, abound in Lijing County during June to November. Since ancient time, this upscale dish featuring haunting, refreshing and aromatic flavor, has been a highlight of various festival and wedding banquets. Matsutake from Lijiang is famous for its big size, slippery and chewy texture as well as extremely high nutritional and medical properties. It is a blessing for those who suffer from diabetes. In Ljiang, you can also have a bite of it at the cost of around 100RMB. This expensive dish only afforded by the wealthy are eaten in almost every Naxi family at this period.
naxi steamed matsutake

Steamed Matsutake

Zhubiao rou(猪膘肉):Pork is the main source of protein for Naxi people, who have come up with brilliant ways to preserve them. Three River Ham and Zhubiao Rou (Pipa Pork) are two most famous brands. Zhubiao Rou can last from several years to over 10 years. To prepare it, a whole pig will be deboned first, then stuffed with salt, spices and various other condiments, after that, it will be shaped into a pipa(an ancient Chinese traditional music instrument) and then air-dried. If you make it to Lugu Lake, you will unravel the mystery of Zhubiao Rou in any family.
Three River Ham, now an upscale dish, fits the bill for “carnivores” . If you want to wash down all that meat, then try Butter Tea and Snow Tea. (Closely related to lichen, Snow Tea was a tribute offered by the Mu Clan to Han emperors during the 14th century. It has two variants: White Snow Tea and Red Snow Tea. The former can only be found at snow mountains above 4000m. When it snows, White Snow Tea will sprout and thrive. White Snow Tea is good for liver and eye sight. Red Snow Tea, or Golden Thread Tea, lives on the trucks of pine trees and cold firs above 4000m. Soaked in hot water, Red Snow Tea will unfurl and adopt a ruby color. Except for quench your thirst, it can low blood pressure, lose weight and improve sleep quality.
If you want to get a little drunk and high, then go to a bar to imbibe some Lijiang cellar wine(丽江窨酒) or Sulima Wine(苏里玛酒), both feature mellow and strong taste.
naxi pipa porknaxi pipa pork2

Zhubiao Rou (Pipa pork猪膘肉)

Zhubiao Rou (Pipa pork猪膘肉)

 ham lijiang snow tea

 Three River Ham(三江火腿)

 Snow Tea(雪茶)

 buckwheat pancake lijiang sulima wine

 Buckwheat Pancake(苦荞粑粑)

 Sulima Wine(苏里玛酒)

 chui gan morel

 Chui Gan( air-dried liver, 吹肝)


 fried dragonfly san die shui

 Fried Dragonfly(油炸蜻蜓)

 San Die Shui(三叠水)

Banquet Dish: San Die Shui (三叠水, literally means Three Cascades of Waterfall)

San Die Shui, the highest etiquette dish of Naxi people, was reserved for the most distinguished personage like a Naxi Chieftain in the past. Encompassing desserts, snacks,local specialty dishes and  precious delicacies, San Die Shui is served in three layers to denote Guest-Greeting, Happy Gathering and Warm Welcome respectively. It begins with desserts, continues with cold dishes and culminates with hot dishes.
The first layer focuses on desserts including pickled fruits, rice cake, seasonal fruits and Snow Tea.
The second layer consists of ham, tofu, Chicken Bean Jelly, bacon, roasted milk(Ru Shan乳扇) and Chui Gan( Blowing Liver,吹肝. It is a popular dish among Naxi, Bai and Yi people. Fresh liver is inflated by a wheat straw before being steamed, sliced and seasoned with condiments. With numerous holes, Chui Gan features chewy texture and rich flavor. )
The third layer, which mainly comprises steamed dishes such as Steamed Baba, Fired Pork, Roasted Fish and Lichun Hotpot which has eight layers as well as Butter Tea(salty or sweet one), will mark the end of the banquet.

Where to enjoy Naxi Cuisine: the Old Town of Lijiang

When stroll along the Old Town of Lijiang, a paradise for food-obsessed people, I am sure you won’t go hungry or get disappointed. You can start a day with a bow of Guo Qiao Mi Xian (Cross the Bridge Rice Noodles,过桥米线) and a cup of Butter Tea. After half a day’s exploration, you can stop in a quaint restaurant to enjoy hotpot, which is very trendy here. Among all the hotpots: Mushroom Hotpot, Dongba Roasted Meat(东巴烤肉), Rib Hotpot(腊排骨火锅),Tora Chicken Hotpot(洋芋鸡火锅) and Black Goat Hotpot(黑山羊火锅), I strongly suggest you order mushroom hotpot and salmon first , both of which abound in Lijiang, hence ensure fair price and top quality.
lijiang food salmon
lijang food salmon
lijang food salmon

 lijiang salmon

lijiang fried salmon

Salmon is cooked in many ways in lijiang

If you do not like hotpot or happens to be a vegetarian, a popular saying can be most enlightening: “Mushroom is a must-eat in Lijiang just like mutton in Xinjiang and Butter Tea in Tibet”. Sitting in a kingdom of mushroom, Lijiang is the best place to enjoy this wild delicacy. Among all the mushrooms, three deserve of a bite especially: termitomyces, matsutake and morel. Matsutake can be cooked in different ways, and the most famous one is Steamed Matsutake(Niang Song Rong酿松茸) invented by Naxi people. Termitomyces will go to market after Torch Festival, that is around the sixth lunar month (solar month: around July or August). No matter stir-fried, strewed or boiled, it is tender, sweet and fresh. Morel, the Queen of Mushroom, only inhabits the forest elevated from 2000 to 3000m above sea level. Late spring and early autumn will see locals delve into in the remote forests of Lijiang and Diqing to pick  them. It is usually stuffed with meat and be streamed or boiled with chicken and duck, and the taste, is supper supper delicious.
lijiang mushroom hotpot

  Mushroom Hotpot is a must-eat in Lijiang

When night falls, Lijiang will be a seething hub enveloped by the alluring aroma of a profusion of snacks. Among them, Lijiang Baba, Mi Guan Chang(Sausage Filled with Glutinious Rice, 米灌肠 ) and Chicken Bean Jelly(Jidou Liangfen鸡豆凉粉) are featured local treats.

Made of flour, baking soda, peanuts, sesame, brown sugar and lard, Lijiang Baba fits the bill perfectly and will appeal to both vegetarians and carnivores alike. If you have sweet teeth, order the sweet ones. It also makes great gift, but notice the expiration period is five days.

Plum Wine: this is one popular beverage and wine with unique flavor. It is made of green plum, barley wine and sugar.

Mi Guan Chang: It is the traditional food of Naxi people. It could the strangest, most unique and yummy sausage you ever taste. So enjoy. 
mi guan chang lijiang

Mi Guan Chang(Sausage Filled with Glutinious Rice, 米灌肠 )

Chicken Bean Jelly :This snack has two versions: cold and hot, which is served during summer and winter respectively. Features sour, spicy and pungent flavor, the cold Chicken Bean Jelly can make a good appetizer and refresh you instantly, just as ice cream. During winter, it can warm up your stomach slowly from inside, and you will feel like finishing a spa.
jidou liang fen

Chicken Bean Jelly



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