A Typical Yunnanese Kitchen Pantry

Learn about fermented chile pastes, vinegars, and a wide-variety of other condiments and spices commonly found in Yunnanese cuisine.

| April 2019


Dried Thai chiles 맴윤슘/푼윤슘 Small dried red Thai chiles are perhaps the most frequently used ingredient in Yunnan kitchens, employed to flavor everything from stir-fried meat to soups. In Chinese markets they are usually just labeled as “dried chiles”; look for small red chiles roughly 2 to 3 inches long.

Dried chile flakes 윤슘충 The chile flakes called for in these recipes are the standard red chile flakes that are available in Chinese markets, often labeled “dried red chile powder”; while some brands look powdery, you should also see some whole chile flakes in the mix. You can also use Italian-style chile (red pepper) flakes from the supermarket spice aisle, which have a similar flavor.

Dried ground chile 윤슘뢴 Yunnan cooks use a variety of ground chile powders that are not available in the United States. To make these recipes, I usually use Korean Red Pepper Powder, sometimes labeled Tower Red Pepper Powder. Occasionally some paprika is added to the pepper to more accurately approximate the flavor of Yunnan’s chiles.

Sichuan peppercorns 빻슘 Small, round Sichuan peppercorns have a citrusy flavor and leave a delightful tingling, numbing sensation in your mouth. Most of these recipes call for red Sichuan peppercorns, which can be used whole or ground. To make a recipe that calls for ground peppercorns, you can buy Sichuan peppercorn powder, but you’ll get a superior flavor if you toast and grind whole peppercorns yourself.

Black cardamom 꿇벎 This spice is readily available in Asian markets, but is not well-known in the United States. The pods are brown, fibrous, and about an inch long. Both whole black cardamom pods and ground black cardamom seeds are used in Yunnan cooking.



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