​Potato, the delicacy on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau

Potato, which is generally called Yangyu in Yunnan dialect, is very popular on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, and Yunnan people often use the saying “Eating Yangyu could make you charming”to express their favour to potato. 


A big yangyu(potato) (Xinhua/Xu Hualing)

Potatoes growing in the high-level laterite  

Crops in the past was difficult to grow in the alpine regions of Yunnan which is located in the low- latitude plateau area with many mountains, except potato. Therefore, potato has become the staple food and a major cash crop in these areas. 

For Yunnan people, potatoes play an important role in their diet whether it is a good harvest year or a lean year. 


Farmers in Zhaotong are growing potatoes. (provided by Yongshan County Publicity Department)

The old people from rural areas of Zhaotong often say that potatoes in the past were essential food for farmers working in the field. A few boiled potatoes with homemade hot sauce were filling and able to provide people with the energy to work. 

A Chinese fireplace which can be used to bake potatoes is highly common in cold highland villages of Zhaotong, Qujing and Kunming in Yunnan province. Locals there often bake and then enjoy potatoes when sitting around the fireplace and chatting with neighbors, which is a special night entertainment. 

Potatoes can also be made into many other delicacies, such as dry fried potato strips, shredded potato with green pepper, potato baba, old granny's potato, copper pot rice with potato, pickled cabbage and potato soup and so on. 

How to eat potatoes in big cities

With the development of agriculture technology and transportation system, potatoes growing in mountainous areas have been transported into cities and become popular snacks in streets. In Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, food stalls and shops selling potatoes are highly abundant. 


A wonderful machine for baking potatoes(Xinhua/Xu Hualing)

Mr. And Mrs. Zhang, from Xuanwei city, Yunnan province, are two of the stallholders who can make palatable potatoes with hot oil and ingredients on a trolley. However, their snacks seem more delicious because of a stove dedicated to baking potatoes. 


Baked potatoes (Xinhua/Xu Hualing)

“Add firewood to the oven to heat potatoes and then the fragrance of firewood will slowly go into the oven,” Mrs. Zhang introduced, “you also need to turn over potatoes halfway and scrape them ,” she said. When baked, the potato looks like a big soybean and it would be put on the top of the oven, waiting to be chosen by customers. 


The best way to enjoy a baked potato(Xinhua/Xu Hualing)

A baked potato with a crispy shell that are tender inside has a unique aroma and could be eaten directly, but the best way to eat it is to cut it in half and add chili powder, fermented bean curd, fried pepper sauce or houttuynia cordata. 


Fried potatoes with seasoning(Xinhua/Xu Hualing)

Another way to eat yangyu is to fry the strips of potatoes in hot oil and remove them when turning golden brown. After that Yunnan people prefer to add chili power, chopped green onion and cilantro to eat. 


Dehydrated potato chips(Xinhua/Xu Hualing)

A traditional way for Yunnan people to store potatoes in the past is to slice and boil them medium with salt, and then leave them dry in the sun. The Dehydrated potato chips can be stored for quite a long time and just need to be fried in hot oil for several seconds before eating. They taste crisp and could be called Yunnan potato chips. 


Yunnan potato chips(Xinhua/Xu Hualing)

Get a better life by growing potatoes

Scientific research institutes and universities are actively exploring potato planting and processing technology in recent years. Now potato planting has become an efficient way for farmers in poor mountainous areas to get rid of poverty. In some counties of Yunnan it has even become the economic pillar with the most regional characteristics and market potential and make people there rich. 


High-standard demonstration base of potato planting in Zhaotong (provided by Yongshan County Publicity Department)

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(Editors: Alison,Rachel)

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