Sichuan Style

On May 25, 2012, in Ethnic Group Flavors, Restaurants & Food, Sichuan, by Jack Li

If you haven’t tasted the exotic flavors of Sichuan cuisine, then I insist this is a must for any China travel. The irony is that the mouthwatering dishes can be delightful to taste but the spicy can also be torturous on the tongue. The unique blend of ginger, peanuts and sesame paste give a sweet zing to the cooking whilst the chilli, garlic and, of course, the special ingredient, the Sichuan peppercorn, enhances the cooking to give a distinct appeal. Anybody who loves to experiment with different foods, then taking a trip one of the many China flights to the country would definitely be a treat for the taste buds.

One particular aspect of the cooking which I noticed when eating Sichuan cuisine is the amount of oil. On a couple of occasions, my friends and I have ordered a huge bowl with a typically Ming-dynasty design. Simply peering in the bowl will allow the imagination to run wild with bold colors and textures presented before you. Specifically, two examples which come to mind include one large whole fish waiting to be dissected in the depths of the bowl. The other, is that of some pieces of white meat which looked like chicken fillets; however, on inspection these turned out to be bullfrog! Even though there were quite a few bones to chew around, I actually rather liked the taste of frog which, although many people who go to France said it ‘tastes like chicken’; I found it to be a mixture of yes chicken, but also fish.

If unusual ingredients don’t take your fancy, then there are plenty of other dishes to select. Beef, for example, is a very common ingredient used in Sichuan cooking. Furthermore, within the Sichuan, there are different styles ranging from a vegetarian Buddhist style to Chongqing, Chengdu, and Zigong styles. While some of the most well-known Chinese dishes the world-over have Sichuan origins. Kung pao chicken (Gongbao), for instance, is an extremely popular dish of nuts, diced chicken and mixed together topped off with a rich, sticky flavor. Paradoxically, in spite of being famous for its fiery flavors, much of Sichuan cuisine is not necessarily spicy such as teas smoked duck. Nevertheless, if you want to embrace the spicy stuff, then consider complementing your meal with rice, beer or milk to combat the heat.

Sometimes you may see the ‘Szechuan’ or ‘Szechwan’ on a menu; but rested assured that despite the spelling variation, the food should still be under the Sichuan cuisine. The Sichuan style of cooking is so valued that in 2011, the city of Chengdu was declared by UNESCO as ‘a city of Gastronomy’. Thus, the popularity of Sichuan cuisine means that finding a restaurant in any major Chinese city should not be a problem; there may even be one near your China hotels.




Jack Li

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