Thursday, January 1, 2009

Chinese cuisine----Sichuan cuisine

Sichuan cuisine, another a hot style cuisine in China, is also called Chuan Cai. Originating in Sichuan Province of southwestern China, it is famed for bold flavors, particularly the spiciness resulting from liberal use of chilis and "numb" or "tingling" flavor of the Sichuan peppercorn. Just as we said in the former article, Sichuan cuisine, comparing to Hunan cuisine, lays great stress on its distinctive málà (hot and numbing) seasoning.

Sichuan food is famous for its many flavors, and almost every dish has its own unique taste. Actually, hot pepper, was introduced into China from South America only 200 to 300 years ago. Once it came to Sichuan, it became a favored food flavoring. Sichuan has high humidity and many rainy or overcast days. Hot pepper helps reduce internal dampness, so hot pepper was used frequently in dishes, and hot dishes became the norm in Sichuan cuisine. The Sichuan peppercorn is commonly used, which is an indigenous plant producing peppercorns with a fragrant, numbing, almost citrusy flavor. Also common are chili, ginger and other spicy herbs, plants and spices. Broad bean chili paste and yuxiang are also staple seasonings in Sichuan cuisine.

Common preparation techniques in Sichuan cuisine include stir frying, steaming, pickling, salting, drying, smoking and braising, but a complete list would include more than 20 distinct techniques. Beef is somewhat more common in Sichuan cuisine than it is in other Chinese cuisines, perhaps due to the widespread use of oxen in the region. Stir-fried beef is often cooked until chewy, while steamed beef is sometimes coated with rice flour to produce a very rich gravy.

There are many local variations of Sichuan cuisine within Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality. The four best known regional sub-styles are Chongqing style, Chengdu style, Zigong style, and Buddhist vegetarian style.Delicious dishes include:

Stir-fried Tofu with Minced Beef in Spicy Bean Sauce - A real feast of tender bean curd, minced beef, pepper and bean sauce. It is said that it was made by a pock-marked but ingenious woman, thus the name Ma Po Tofu (pock-marked woman's bean curd).

Lamp-shadow Beef - with larruping techniques, the beef is cut in very thin sheet. When a piece is carried, it looks like translucent paper, slippery and reddish. When put under the lamp or light, a red shadow will appear.

Gong Bao Ji Ding - This is a tender chicken dish, tender as the meat is quickly fried. Flavored with peanuts, this is tasty and very popular.

Lung Pieces by Couple - a quite popular in Chengdu. It got the name because the dish was ever sold be a couple and today it remains the original savor, tender meat, tingling and spicy.

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