Hunan cuisine, sometimes called Xiang cuisine (??? or ??), consists of the cuisines of the Xian river region, Dongting lake and western Hunan Province, in China. It is well known for its hot spicy flavor, fresh aroma and deep color. Common cooking techniques include stewing, frying, pot-roasting, braising, and smoking.
Xiang cuisine is known for being dry hot or purely hot, as opposed to the better known Szechuan cuisine to which it is often compared to. Known for its distinctive málà (hot and numbing) seasoning and other complex flavour combinations, Szechuan cuisine frequently employ Szechuan peppercorns along with chilies which are often dried, and utilizes more dried or preserved ingredients and condiments. Hunan Cuisine, on the other hand, is often spicier by pure chili content, contains a larger variety of fresh ingredients, tends to be oilier, and is said to be purer and simpler in taste. Another characteristic distinguishing Hunan cuisine from Szechuan cuisine is that, in general, Hunan cuisine uses smoked and cured goods in its dishes much more frequently.