Whether enjoying some street food or at an important banquet, these dishes always seems to appear on the table at meals in Kunming. There are many varieties, but whichever one it is, these are tastes that bring great joy. Try these traditional Kunming desserts on a hot day to make your summer sweeter!
Yunnan is full of the wetland lakes which are a paradise for lotus roots. However, since fresh lotus roots are difficult to store, people use a grinding and baking process to make lotus root starch, so that they can taste this summer food at any time. Tiaogao Oufen (Glutinous rice cake with lotus root starch) features a skillful combination of this lotus root starch with multiple other flavors.
A Zhenzi (bamboo steamer) is an ancient piece of kitchenware, mainly use to steam rice. In order to cook traditional Tiaogao Oufen, most restaurants still use a Zhenzi to cook the glutinous rice cakes, even though they have rice cookers. When the glutinous rice cake is nearly cooked, quickly making the Oufen (Louts root starch) is the trick to ensure that both temperatures and taste are just right. Finally, the glutinous rice cake is put into the Oufen, before adding some raisins, sesame, and other sweet treats as decoration, together with brown sugar sauce or rose sugar sauce to enhance the sweetness of the taste.
It may be the strangest named Kunming local dessert, but "Modern Baba" (摩登粑粑) is truly delicious and known by every local.
In 1941, Lieutenant General Chen Nad of the US Army Air Force formed the Flying Tigers in Kunming, and many Americans came to Wujiaba (巫家坝), Kunming. Due to the distribution of US military supplies, many soldiers would bring their unused cigarettes, butter, and other supplies that Kunming people usually needed to the market to exchange for other goods.
At a pancake shop run by two beautiful sisters, they combined the butter from the soldiers with flour to make pancakes. The butter gave a rich milky smell and softer taste to these pancakes, and the special flavor attracted everyone to try them.
Baba is the traditional name for this type of pancake, and since at that time, butter was rare in Kunming, many people thought of it as a modern product. Since the American soldiers often also used the word "modern" with the sisters, someone came up with the name "Modern Baba" for this new invention.
Rose Flower Cake
Rose Flower Cake is not only a specialty dessert of Kunming, but also serves as a calling card for the city's cuisine. Many tourists bring boxes of Rose Flower Cake back from Kunming as gifts for their friends and relatives.
Rose Flower Cakes have high standards when it comes to the quality of their fillings, in order to preserve the fresh fragrance of the flowers as much as possible. After 9am when the temperature begins to rise, the aroma of rose flower can become volatile, which can affect the quality of flower. The picked roses are therefore manually screened, stored in a freezer, and transported by refrigerated trucks to the factory for processing.
To make Rose Flower Cake the first step is the filling. The petals are ground into a paste, to which honey and sugar is added, before being refrigerated, to reduce the bitterness. The best flavor comes from the rose filling, and this single ingredient creates a complex new flavor when added to the pastry. The rose filling neutralizes the oiliness of the pastry, and the pastry absorbs the sweetness in the flower filling, so that everything works perfectly in combination.
Sticky Rice Balls with Soybean Flour
Doumian Tangyuan have always held an unshakable position as a favorite Kunming dessert. People from Kunming think that Tangyuan will lose its soft texture as soon as it is frozen, so freshly hand-made Tangyuan are at the heart of delicious Doumian Tangyuan.
Eight Delicacies Rice Pudding
Babaofan is not only common at street stalls, but is also an important banquet dish for the people of Kunming. Babaofan originates from Beijing cuisine, but it was introduced to Kunming as early as the Ming Dynasty.
Traditional eight delicacies ingredients include glutinous rice, red bean paste, red dates, lotus seeds, raisins, walnut kernels, sunflower seeds and goji berries. Nowadays, Babaofan has a wider range of ingredients and more variation than in the past, making it more suitable for making an appearance on formal dining tables.
As time passes, Babaofan retains an important position in the minds of locals. No matter how many dishes are served at a banquet, people still choose Babaofan as the last dish.