I am sure some of you have ordered a ‘Szechwan Chicken’ before in a Chinese restaurant back home, but there is much more behind this glorious cuisine. Firstly, it is more known in China as ‘Sichuan’ as opposed to the Western term, ‘Szechwan’ or ‘Szechuan.’ Chinese food in general is delicious, however, Sichuan has a unique taste to it. It is known for its bold flavors, spiciness, due to its vast use of garlic and chili peppers. Peanuts, sesame paste and ginger are also essential ingredients to Sichuan cooking. When you are on your China Tours you should ask your China Hotels for directions to your nearest Sichuan restaurant.

Sichuan Province is commonly known as the ‘heavenly country’ due to its huge amount of food and natural resources, thus the region is famous for its food. It is the first thing that comes to my head when I think of Sichuan Province. There are seven basic flavors: sour, pungent, hot, sweet, bitter, aromatic and salty. Furthermore, there are 5 types of Sichuan foods: sumptuous banquet, ordinary banquet, popularized food and snacks.

I am sure some of you are familiar with Kung Pao Chicken. The Chinese word for it is ‘gongbao jiding’ just in case you wish to order it in a restaurant where the menu is not in English. The dish was in fact named after Ding Baozhan, a late Qing Dynasty official. His titlse was ‘Gong Bao’ and thus the name ‘Kung Pao’ derived from it. Kung Pao chicken consisnts mainly of diced chicken. The wok is seasoned and then chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns are fried to add fragrance to the oil. The dish itself is also mixed with peanuts before being topped off with Shaoxing wine to enhance the flavor of the marinade.

Mapo doufu is another special Sichuan dish. It is a combination of tofu set in a spicy, bean-based sauce. Doufu is often cooked with minced meat, usually pork or beef. Sometimes you can vary the ingredients and add water chestnuts, onions and other vegetables to the dish.

My favorite Chinese dishes are pork-based, therefore the Sichuan dish I would strongly recommend is a dish called “Twice Cooked Pork” or “Hui Guo Rou.” Its name is as it is because the dish is essentially cooked twice before serving. First, by boiling the belly pork steak chunks with slices of ginger and salt. The next step is to cut the pork into small slices and place them back in the wok to be fried. Cabbage and peppers or leaks usually accompany the dish.

Finally, Chinese cuisine would not be complete without noodles, thus I suggest you try the Sichuan style noodles, referred to as, ‘Dan Dan Noodles,’ which literally translates to ‘Peddler’s noodles.’ The dish consists of a spice sauce containing vegetables, chili oil, Sichuan pepper, and minced pork, scallions served over noodles. It is named after a type of carrying pole (dan dan), which was used by walking vendors who sold the dish on the street.

As I stated earlier, I love Chinese food, and one thing I love more than Chinese food is spicy food. So Sichuan has it all. If you have a taste for hot dishes, I thoroughly recommend you make Sichuan one of your first dining experiences in China. Book your Air China flights now to experience this unique culinary culture.

 

Jack Li

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