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Yi Nationality Cuisine

Yi cuisine is characterized by its sour and spicy flavors. Rice, corns and buckwheat constitute the main diet. Mutton, pork and beef are consumed substantially. Besides, roasted tea and rice wine hold an important part during socializing occasions.


yi peopleyi nationality mutton

Table manners of Yi People

When invited to a Yi people’s home, you should be aware of these hidden rules: to show respect, you will be arranged to a seat reserved for distinguished guests, while all the rest will sit down according to social status and age. Yi people usually sit in a circle, waiting for rice, soup and plates of pork to be served. When dining, Yi people hold the spoons by their right hands, and seize the pork with left ones. Table taboos including spraying dishes onto the floor or stretching hands across the table for soup and dishes. Soup is consumed at first. The younger generation is not expected to leave the table when the senior or guests have not finished.

The food served reflects the economic status of the master and intimacy of their relationship. For instance, when receiving guests sharing the same family name, Yi people will prepare chickens. If you know Yi cuisine culture well enough, you will know the chicken legs are for children, chicken breast meat for housewives, liver and stomach for senior-aged while heads and necks, the least desirable parts, will be consumed by the master. When distinguished guests show up, Yi people will slaughter pigs and sheep. In rare cases, they will kill a cow to prepare a banquet. When the guests are leaving, the master will bestow them with pork, mutton or beef as gifts.
dine with yi people

Wine Culture of Yi people

Wine plays an important role in various occasions, such as wedding, funeral, guest-entertaining or ancestral worship. Though sometimes, you can see a Yi drunker sleeping along the street, Yi people do value and advocate drinking appropriate amount of wine very much. Just as the saying goes, a man who chooses to drink a cup of wine worthy of gold, two cups of wine silver, three cups not better than a dog.

It is interesting to observe how the Yi people dink wine. The master will fill each bowl half full, and then handle it to the guests in the left one by one. Each guest is expected to receive it with right hands. The oldest guest will imbibe firstly. Then each one will drink according to order. Several rounds will empty their bowls. Then, the master will fill their bowls again. This is called drinking “Circular Wine” (in Chinese, 转转酒). During Yi New Year or grand festivals, Yi people will put several tanks of wine in their porches, which are perched with bamboo stalks. Whenever a fellow villager or friends come by, they will be invited to drink through these stalks, this is called Gangan Wine.

Meat Culture of Yi people

Different with all the rest ethnicities in China, Yi people have developed very different meat culture, which is largely based on superstition and care for children. For instance, if one family is killing a sheep and an outsider happens to see the blood, the outsider should be invited to a mutton meal otherwise he or she will be cursed with hyperthyroidism. If a hunter gets a prey, all the witnesses can share its meat. Another interesting phenomenon is that the guest who happens to eaten too much meat in Yi people’s family will be a laughing stock, especially when he or she is a Yi people. Reading this, you may wonder how much meat should be eaten, well, if you are eating Tuotuo Pork, three is the maximize number. Judging these Tuotuo pork are fist-sized, I am sure you won’t go hungry. If you are served with chicken and duck, you are expected to eat a piece or even a little soup. Do not feel offended, because in Yi people’s culture, meat is for children and wine is for old people.

Top Dishes of Yi People

Tuotuo Pork(坨坨肉): it is the most famous dish of the Yi people. From raw material to cooking method, this dish is 100% organic and preserves the original flavor, thus is especially delicious.
Tuotuo Pork

Roasted Pork(烤小猪): a medium-sized pig weighing no more than 20kg is used to prepare this delicacy. It is a must-eat during your stay in a Yi village.

Roasted Pork


Whole Lamp Soup(全羊汤锅): a whole lamp will be sliced into even pieces before being braised for several hours. Seasoned with flower pepper, chili pepper powder and mint, this dish will impress you for its haunting fresh flavor.

Cheese and Ham Pancake(锅贴乳饼): it a specialty prevails among Yi people in Chuxiong and Bai people in Dali, both in Yunnan province. Yi people are good at preparing it, in particular. Featuring golden color and crunchy texture, it goes well with wine. Cheese made from goat milk comes as the main material. Other ingredients including chicken(200g ), ham (100g) and cucumber(10g) .

Whole Lamp Soup

Cheese and Ham Pancake

yi people chili pepper chicken yi-nationality-blood-sausage

Chili Pepper Chicken

 Yi-style Blood Sausage

 yi-nationality-food yi-nationality-potato-chicken

 Yi Cuisine

 Potato Chicken

Chili Pepper Chicken(彝族的辣仔鸡): chickens weighing around 2kg are roasted before being chopped into pieces and seasoned. The liberal use of ginger, garlic, chili pepper lends it with rich taste. It is especially appetizing and addictive, if your tongue and stomach are strong enough.

Yi-style Blood Sausage(彝族血肠): during Yi New Year, each household will slaughter pigs, and the intestines are used to prepare sausage. Intestines are cleaned and stuffed with salt, chili pepper, flower pepper, ginger, rice wine and pig blood before being tied up at both ends. They will be boiled and sliced into chucks before being served. It is really tasty.
yi nationality buckwheat pancake

Yi Nationality Buckwheat Pancake

yi nationality bacon

yi nationality bacon


Yi Nationality Mutton



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