Szechuan cuisine is a style of cookery originating in the Sichuan province of western China which has an international reputation for being spicy and flavorful. Although the region Sichuan is now usually romanized as Sichuan , the cuisine that originated there is still usually spelled Szechuan in the West, and pronounced IPA in English.
Some well-known Szechuan dishes include Kung Pao chicken and Twice Cooked Pork. Although many dishes live up to their spicy reputation, often ignored are the large percentage of recipes that use little or no hot spices at all, including dishes such as Tea Smoked Duck.
The chile pepper, a common ingredient in Szechuan cuisine (often used unseeded), was introduced to China from ìthe Americas after European colonization of the Americas had begun. Chile peppers were most likely introduced to Sichuan by migrating Hunanese peasents in the 17-18th century. However, Szechuan cuisine's reputation for being spicy is much older: sichuan pepper, or "numbing pepper" is an indigenous plant (fruit) that produces a fragrant, numbing, almost citrus-y spice, and is still a key ingredient in Szechuan food to this day, and also ginger and spicy herbs were used early on. The reason for this emphasis on spice may derive from the region's warm, humid climate. This climate also necessitates sophisticated food-preservation techniques which include pickling, salting, drying and smoking.
Dòubànjiàng, broad bean chili paste, is a staple seasoning in Sichuan cuisine.
Common preparation techniques in Szechuan cuisine include stir frying, steaming and braising, but a complete list would include more than 20 distinct techniques. Beef is somewhat more common in Szechuan 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 rich gravy.
Some common Szechuan dishes include:
- Kung Pao chicken (Pinyin: gongbao jiding)
- Tea Smoked Duck (Pinyin: zhangchá ya)
- Twice Cooked Pork (Pinyin: huíguoròu)
- Mapo dofu (Pinyin: mápó dòufu)
- Sichuan hotpot (Pinyin: Sìchuan huoguo)
- Fuqi Feipian (Pinyin: fuqi fèipiàn)
- Chengdu Chicken (Pinyin: Chéngdu làziji)
- Water Boiled, or Shuizhu Dishes (Pinyin: shuizhu)