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Shui Zhu

Shuizhu or Shuizhuroupian refers to Chinese dish of the Sichuan style of cooking in which meat or seafood is cooked in chili peppers, and a large amount of vegetable oil. The term literally means “water-cooked” and it may refer to any variety of main ingredients that are simmered in chili-infused oil.

Ingredients and Preparation

Shuizhu may use beef, pork or chicken for the dish but there are popular fish and seafood versions too. A thick sauce is made from Douban (spicy paste of crushed chili peppers and fermented bean) wet crushed chili peppers, water and salt. The sauce may be thickened with pea starch, corn flour or rice flour. The meat is then simmered in the sauce till tender. The cooked meat is then layered on to a bed of bean sprouts. Chopped Sichuan chili peppers and onions are layered on top of the meat and hot chili oil is poured over the meat. The dish is served immediately with steamed rice or local bread

Popular Varieties

  1. Shui Zhu Yu is the fish variant. Any local white fish can be used but locals prefer cod or basa. The fish is dipped into a egg white, corn starch, white pepper, and salt mixture and then deep fried. The fish is then cooked with bean sauce and then layered on top of bean sprouts, celery and cabbage. The fish and vegetables are then covered with hot oil that has been flavored with Sichuan peppers, garlic and chili paste.
  2. Shuizhu niurou is water-boiled beef. The beef is marinated in white wine and then simmered in a paste made of chili, Sichuan pepper, scallions and ginger.. The meat and sauce is poured over celery, scallions and onions, and hot flavored oil is poured on top.
  3. Vegetarian versions are prepared with tofu as the main protein of the dish. Tofu is soaked and deep fried in egg white before putting it in the sauce.


Traditionally, this dish is not prepared with carp, shrimp, pigeon, soft shell crabs, quail and turtle meat. According to Chinese cooking techniques, this dish requires lean meat that can be cooked quickly by stir-frying at high temperatures. This produces a much more digestible meal.