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What Is Yuxiang?

Yuxiang, a tantalizing blend of garlic, ginger, and chili, is the heart of Sichuan cuisine. This aromatic paste creates a symphony of flavors, infusing dishes with a sweet, sour, and spicy profile that's utterly addictive. It's the secret behind many beloved Chinese dishes. Ready to discover how Yuxiang can transform your cooking? Join us on a flavorful journey.
Kathy Dowling
Kathy Dowling

Yuxiang is a combination of ingredients that are used to season food. When translated, yuxiang means "fish fragrance." Originating in China and traditionally used in Chinese cuisine, yuxiang refers not only to the mixture that seasons the food, but also to the sauce that is produced after the food has been cooked. Traditionally, the mixture contains soy sauce, salt, and chili peppers, as well as scallions and doubanjiang. It is simple to make by simply stir frying the ingredients and it adds an extra element to a variety of dishes.

While there are variations in recipes, the mixture is made with a combination of soy sauce, salt, and chili peppers. It also includes scallions, which are long onions, and doubanjiang. Doubanjiang is made from beans, salt, wheat flour and chiles, and, when translated, means "beans mixed into sauce." Yuxiang is not difficult to make and simply involves chopping all ingredients finely and stir frying them. Stir fry is a style of cooking which involves cooking food in a wok while adding different sauces.

Chili peppers are a main ingredient in yuxiang.
Chili peppers are a main ingredient in yuxiang.

The mixture is typically used on dishes that have eggplant or pork as the main ingredient; however, it is also used in beef and chicken dishes. Yuxiang qiezi is the name given to an eggplant dish and yuxiang rousi is a pork dish. Both dishes are prepared by stir frying either the eggplant or pork first, then setting it aside while preparing the seasoned mixture. All ingredients are then combined and stir fried together until the fragrance and flavor infuse the main ingredient.

Yuxiang is thought to have originated in the Sichuan province of China.
Yuxiang is thought to have originated in the Sichuan province of China.

Typical to Chinese cuisine are ingredients such as noodles and rice. Noodles vary in texture and size, while rice is generally steamed before it is served. There are also many different types of sauces that are commonly used in Chinese cuisine, such as oyster sauce and soy sauce and seasonings, such as cloves, ginger, and chili peppers, some of which are used when making yuxiang.

Chicken stir-fry made with pungent yuxiang sauce and vegetables.
Chicken stir-fry made with pungent yuxiang sauce and vegetables.

Throughout China, different types of Chinese cuisine have arisen due to differences in cooking techniques and the availability of resources in certain areas. Some of the most popular styles of Chinese food include Jiangsu cuisine and Sichuan cuisine. Yuxiang is thought to have originated from Sichuan cooking.

Sichuan cuisine is known for its hot, bold flavors, and includes foods that are both sweet and sour and quite salty in taste. Chili peppers are also commonly used since it was introduced from South America in the 17th century. Since originating in the Sichuan province, Sichuan cooking is used to make many meals throughout different regions of China, and is also eaten in different parts of the world including Europe, the United States, and Australia.

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    • Chili peppers are a main ingredient in yuxiang.
      By: epantha
      Chili peppers are a main ingredient in yuxiang.
    • Yuxiang is thought to have originated in the Sichuan province of China.
      By: gringos
      Yuxiang is thought to have originated in the Sichuan province of China.
    • Chicken stir-fry made with pungent yuxiang sauce and vegetables.
      By: Periwinkle Studio
      Chicken stir-fry made with pungent yuxiang sauce and vegetables.
    • Ginger is often used when making yuxiang.
      By: GIS
      Ginger is often used when making yuxiang.
    • Any Asian stir-fry can be served with brown rice, which packs more nutrition than traditional white rice.
      By: Stepan Popov
      Any Asian stir-fry can be served with brown rice, which packs more nutrition than traditional white rice.