Chilies — whether dried, pickled, fermented or stir-fried — are a staple of every meal in Guizhou. And that includes breakfast.
Broths, dipping sauces, noodles and stir fries are liberally seasoned with chili peppers that are grown on the province’s terraced fields — from the milder green bells to the tiny, red firecrackers that pack a mouth-stinging punch.
The dominant taste is “suan la” (sour spicy) rather than the “ma la” (numbing spicy) found in neighboring Sichuan, another Chinese region famed for its fiery cuisine.
Poor and remote, Guizhou’s food, known as qian cai, is relatively unknown even within China.
Home to dozens of ethnic minorities, the region’s signature dishes draw on folk cooking — there’s little refined banquet cuisine.
But what I found was extremely fresh ingredients grown and made locally — foraged fungus, unusual root vegetables and fruits and fish plucked from the fast-flowing rivers that snake their way through the limestone karst landscape.