Chinese cuisine is really dynamic, full of flavours, colours and contrasting cooking methods. A seemingly popular cuisine is the Sichuan cuisine. It was derived in the Sichuan Province of south-western China which is known for bold flavours, particularly the pungency and spiciness. Book your China flights with Air China and taste this incredible cuisine yourselves, you won’t find it made the same anywhere else.

This particular cuisine came about during the Jin Dynasty. They preferred to eat pungent food; however, pungent food at that time referred to food made with chives, ginger, onions or mustard.  Originally, the flavourings were very mild; unlike what the reputation of the dishes are today, such as pockmarked lady’s bean curd and other hot dishes. It was only about 200 years ago, that spices were introduced, before then, they were quite mild. Even today, some Sichuan dishes, like velvet shark’s fin, braised bear’s paw, crisp duck roasted with camphor and tea, sea cucumber with pungent flavour and boiled Chinese cabbage have kept their traditional flavours.

According to Chinese culinary writers the Sichuan cuisine is made up of seven basic flavours: Sour, pungent, hot, sweet, bitter, aromatic, and salty. Sichuan cuisine often contains food preserved through pickling, salting, and drying and is generally spicy due to heavy amounts of chilly oil.

Not only this but the Sichuan peppercorn is commonly used as well, it has a strong fragrant, citrus-like flavour and produces a “tingly-numbing” sensation in the mouth. The hot pepper was introduced into China from South America around the end of the 17th century. Once it came to Sichuan, it became really popular and the preferred flavouring. Due to Sichuan’s high humidity and many rainy or overcast days, the hot pepper helps to reduce internal dampness, therefore hot pepper was used frequently in dishes, and hot dishes became the norm in Sichuan cuisine. As rice was and still is the staple food in the region, Sichuan food was eaten a lot more as it complemented the rice well. It is said that Beijing food was commonly eaten by rich people whereas typical Sichuan food could be eaten by every family. Other common ingredients used are garlic, chilly, ginger, star anise and other spicy herbs, plants and spices. Broad bean chilly paste is also a staple seasoning in Sichuan cuisine.

There are different ways of preparing Sichuan cuisine which includes stir frying, steaming and braising and 20 others. Sichuan does not have seafood but it produces numerous domestic animals, poultry, and freshwater fish and crayfish. It is plentiful in beef and so a lot of dishes include beef, which is not found as much elsewhere in China. All parts of animals are used such as intestine, arteries, the head, tongue, skin, and liver in addition to other commonly utilized portions of the meat. Sichuan cuisine is also well known for cooking fish.

Fly with China Airline and experience this wonderful cuisine for yourselves. You can taste a little bit of China in every mouthful.

Jack Li
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