Have you ever tasted Sichuan cuisine in your country? What’s the picture when you think of Sichuan cuisine? Is it hot and spicy making your mouth water?
Sichuan Cuisine, or Szechuan Cuisine, is one of the famous Eight Great Cuisines of China. There are hundreds of flavors in Sichuan cuisine and each dish has own unique taste and flavor. UNESCO declared Chengdu, the Capital of Sichuan, to be a city of gastronomy and it is true that Chengdu makes a name for itself by its time-honored cuisines and snacks with special seasoning and cooking methods.
In Sichuan cuisine, the most unique and important spice is Sichuan peppercorn with intense fragrant, citrus-like flavor, creating tingly numbing sensation in the mouth. Other frequent used spices in Sichuan cuisine are chili peppers, garlic, ginger and star anise, etc. What’s more, broad bean chili sauce is the most important seasonings to make many dishes.
According to many foreign friends’ feedbacks and local Chengdu people's recommendations, here are listed Top 10 Sichuan Cuisines and Chengdu Snacks for your reference. Hold your breath when you appreciate these delicacies.
Sichuan Hot Pot: Sichuan Hot Pot is famous for its spicy and various types of condiments and spices used in the soup base and dipping sauces for hot pot. It is usually served with a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of the dining table. The hot pot is kept heated from below and diners self-cook a variety of ingredients including all kinds of meats, tofu, vegetables and fungus, etc. We suggest you try double flavor hot pot for your first time.
Mapo Tofu: Mapo Tofu was created in 1862 during Qing Dynasty. The name of the dish is named after a freckled woman (in Chinese we call “Mapo”) who was famous for making delicious stir-fried tofu in Chengdu. The main ingredients are tofu, ground beef/pork, chili peppers and Sichuan peppers. Mapo Tofu is featured as “Numbing”, “Spicy Hot”, “Hot Temperature”, “Fresh”, “Tender”, “Aromatic” and “Flaky”.
Kung Pao Chicken: Kung Pao Chicken is a real Sichuan style dish. It is stir-fried with chicken cubes, dried chili pepper, deep-fried peanuts and cucumber. The chicken meat is very fresh and smooth. It has a combined sweet, sour and spicy taste. This dish is believed to be named after Ding Baozhen, a late Qing Dynasty official. His title was Gongbao and the name “Kung Pao” is derived from this title.
Twice Cooked Pork: Twice Cooked Pork, also called Double Cooked Pork, is made of slices of pork, chunks of red bell pepper, and sweet bean pasted together with soy sauce. The process of making twice cooked pork is first simmering pork belly steaks in water with spices of ginger, Sichuan pepper, star anise. After, cut the pork into slices and return the pork to a wok and shallow fried in oil, usually along with green pepper (or garlic sprout, garlic shoot or other vegetables).
Yu-Shiang Shredded Pork: Yu-Shiang Shredded Pork (Yu Xiang Rou Si in Chinese) is featured by the taste-fish fragrant. It is made by pork, black fungus and other ingredients like carrot, bamboo shoot and chili peppers. The fish-fragrant sauce does not come from the fish. The fish smell comes from hot pepper, sailt, soy sauce, white sugar, ginger, garlic and green star. The seasoning contains salty, sweet, sour, hot and fresh, making the food more delicious.
Fuqi Fei Pian: Fuqi Fei Pian (Sliced Beef and Ox Tongue in Chili Sauce) was originated as early as the late Qing Dynasty. In the 1930s, a married couple, the husband named Guo Zhaohua and wife called Zhang Tianzheng became famous for making beef slices. Hence, it got the name “Fuqi Fei Pian”. It is made of thinly sliced beef and beef offal including beef heart, tongue and tripe and a generous amount of various spices, like Sichuan peppercorns.
Boiled Pork: Boiled Pork is also well known as water cooked pork or Shuizhu Pork. Shuzhu literally means that dish made with the cooking method of boil in water. Shuizhi Pork means pork slices are cooked in broad-bean chili sauce soup and then hot oil poured on top. It is featured as “Numbing”, “Hot Spicy”, “Fresh” and “Fragrant”. This dish contains a lot ingredients including pork slices, vegetables, bean sprout, cabbage, cucumber, asparagus lettuce.
Boiled Fish: Shuizhu series include boiled pork (mentioned above), boiled fish and boiled beef. In order to keep the meat as tender as possible, the cooking time should be limited to just several minutes. The most important ingredient for the boiled fish soup base is broad bean chili sauce. It is first stir-fried with ginger, garlic and white part of green onion and then clean water is added. During the process, slow fire is used to simmer the taste of broad bean chili sauce and add pieces of fish into the soup base.
Dan Dan Noodles: Dan Dan Noodles is one of the most famous street food. In the past, the vendors carried the noodles and the sauces to sell them on the street hence got the name “Dan Dan Noodles”. The fried pork and Ya-cai gravy is the most unique feature of Dan Dan Noodles. Taking a visit to Chengdu, foodies can try it in Jinli Pedestrian Street, Kuan Zhai Alley, Luodai Ancient Town, Huanglongxi Ancient Town, etc.
Zhong Dumpling: Zhong Dumplings were created during the late years of Qing Dynasty, named after the creator – Zhong Shaobai. The main difference between Zhong dumplings and dumplings in other parts of north China is that the stuffing in Zhong dumplings totally pork without any vegetables. The crescent-shaped dumplings are made of pork wrapped in dough and then boiled and served with a sauce made of red chili oil, sugar, garlic and soy sauce. Zhong dumplings taste sweet, spicy and salty.
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Chengdu / Sichuan Cuisine Museum / Chengdu
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