Sometimes called Xiang Cuisine (湘菜 pinyin xiang1 cai4), Hunan Cuisine consists of the cuisines of the Xiangjiang region, Dongting Lake and western Hunan Province. While similar to Szechuan cuisine, Hunan Cuisine is often spicier and contains a larger variety of ingredients. Hunan is known for its liberal use of Chili Peppers, Shallots and Garlic. Many Hunan dishes are characterized by a strongly flavored brown sauce. Some rely on sweetness from ingredients such as honey; Sweet and Sour sauces are also characteristic of the style.
Hunan Cuisine is difficult to precisely characterize, as it has absorbed stylistic elements from all over China. For this reason, the region is sometimes regarded as China's culinary center. Common cooking techniques include stewing, frying, pot-roasting, braising, and smoking. Due to the high agricultural output of the region, ingredients for Hunan dishes are many and varied.
Some representative Hunan dishes include:
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Peppery and Hot Chicken (Hot and Spicy Chicken)
Lotus Seeds in Sugar Candy