Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Sichuan Campaign

Sichuan cuisine is the most unique of the eight main regional cuisines.

Famed for its bold flavors and use of strong spices, this cuisine was strongly influenced by Indian cuisine.

As foreigners, including Buddhist missionaries and Spanish traders, began travelling through this landlocked, mountain-ringed province along China’s famous “Silk Route.” they introduced the locals to the characteristic spicy flavors of Indian cuisine. The people of the area eventually developed their own unique cuisine based on these influences, a cuisine that is so very different and distinct from any other Chinese cooking styles.

Even though this cuisine is famous for being spicy, not all Sichuan dishes are spicy., many Sichuan dishes taste like fish or fried tangerine.

 

 

Let’s take a look at some of the conventional Sichuan ingtredients…

—As far as meat, Sichuan cuisine gives you your typical meats—such as chicken, freshwater fish, and pork…but you will also find more unconventional ingredients—such as shark fins and bear paws. You will also find that air-dried meats are commonly used.

—As far as sauce, Sichuan cuisine tends to use more sesame paste, fish sauce, ginger juice, sweet-sour sauce, garlic puree, red chili oil….(and soy sauce, of course)….

—As far as spices, Sichuan cuisine uses Sichuan pepper…lots and lots of Sichuan pepper…as well as chili peppers and garlic.

—As far as other ingredients, Sichuan cuisine leans more toward pungently flavored vegetables such as garlic and onions. Nuts and seeds are also commonly used in Sichuan cuisine.

 

A few of the most popular Sichuan entrees that you might find on the menu, kook for…

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Kimchi—What Else—Sichuan Pepper

Another item to look for when surfing Asian websites or walking through your nearest Asian market is Sichuan pepper.

Let’s start off by talking about what Sichuan pepper is not…

Sichuan pepper is NOT…

  • a chile pepper at all
  • actually from a pepper plant
  • closely related to either black pepper or the chili pepper
  • hot or pungent like black, white, or chili peppers
  • really a pepper at all
  • related to chili pepper
  • spicy hot like a chile pepper

So now that I’ve confused everybody by saying what Sichuan pepper is not, let’s find out what Sichuan pepper IS…

Sichuan pepper is perhaps the most important ingredient in Sichuan cuisine and is also commonly used in all sorts of Chinese cooking.

The spice actually comes from the prickly ash shrub, a member of the citrus family.

The seeds of the shrub have pinkish-red outer husks which can be dried and then either be used whole or ground into powder.

Sichuan pepper has an aroma that has been likened to lavender

As far as taste, Sichuan pepper has slightly lemony overtones and create a powerful mouth-numbing sensation similar to carbonated drinks.