Szechuan cuisine is a type of Chinese cuisine originating from the Sichuan province, in the Southwest of China. This cuisine has bold, pungent flavours mainly given from garlic and chilli.
Sichuan sauce is known for being mouth numbingly hot, made with the unique ingredient Sichuan pepper. Although, spicy dishes are normally served with milder ones to cool the palate.
While ‘Hot Pot’ is likely the most well-known Szechuan dish (and undoubtedly delicious), there are many more meals to explore.
This translates to ‘Husband and Wife Offal Pieces’. It consists of thin slices of beef meat, tongue and stomach. It is served cold with a flavoursome dressing of chilli oil, sesame oil, black vinegar and Sichuan peppercorns.
It was originally known for its cheap cost and became popular amongst students and labourers. In the 1930’s, a married couple took recognition for the dish. They were given a golden plaque that read ‘Fuqi Feipian’; since then the name stuck.
One of the best-loved dishes, and something you cannot go without is Mapo Tofu. It has grown in popularity all around the world making it one of the most famous Sichuan dishes.
The main ingredient is soft tofu, in a sauce of fermented broad bean paste and a small amount of ground pork. Much like most cuisines from this region, it has Sichuan numbing pepper.
This dish leads back to a woman called Wen Qiaoqiao, a restaurant owner who thought up this dish as an affordable meal to feed to working men who often visited her business.
Sichuan Oil-Boiled Fish
This dish is made from a moreish combination of fish, boiled oil, Sichuan peppers and chilli. If you order this dish in a restaurant, you would normally be asked what kind of fish you want it to be made with. It is cooked with vegetables and potato starch noodles, then finished with hot oil being poured over the top.
Ants Climbing a Tree
Despite its name, this meal does not include any bugs or insects. It was given this name by its appearance, as it gives a similar look to ants climbing a tree. However, it actually consists of ground pork clinging to rice noodles. This meal is perfect if you’re looking for something less spicy.
Legend says this dish was created by a young girl, from a poor family who was looking after her sick mother. She wanted to cook her mother something nice, therefore she went and purchased a small amount of ground pork and fried it with noodles. Her mother commented that the pork resembled ants, and so the name was born.
Younger Sister’s Diced Rabbit
Rabbit is so popular in Sichuan cuisine that it makes up around 70% of China’s entire rabbit meat consumption. This dish was invented in the 80’s by a Chef from Chengdu known as ‘Younger Sister’. It’s made with diced rabbit meat, fried in a paste of fermented black soybeans. Leeks, peanuts and plenty of chilli are added to taste.
This is a cold dish of shredded chicken and cucumber in a spicy chilli oil. It is commonly found around carts in Chengdu. The chicken is beaten with a rolling pin to make it tender and even. It dates back to a time when chicken was very expensive and sold by the slice, which made customers very picky about the product.
Chinese food is consumed worldwide, and many countries enjoy this cuisine. Szechuan brings original flavours and culture, and offers a variation from other Chinese regions. If you’re a lover of spicy food, this is definitely something to try.