Szechuan is the cuisine of Sichuan, which is a culturally diverse region of China.This sub cuisine is known for its rich customary flavor which is influenced by the climate of the place. The food here mainly consists of hot and spicy dishes and is known all over the world for its bold flavors. Garlic and chili peppers are the two major ingredients used in all Szechuan preparations. The cuisine is also known as Szechwan or Sichuan. Kung pao chicken with Szechuan noodles or rice is popular in almost all the cuisines of the world.
Historical And Cultural Influences On Szechuan Cuisine
The Szechuan cuisine reflects the food culture of Sichuan. The climate of this place is known to be hot and humid and this is one of the reasons that why the food prepared in this region is different from the food in rest of China. Also, as the history reveals, this region came under the area where the e fresh food supply was deficient and thus the spices here were used to maximum. Also, food is more prone to spoilage in the Sichuan area and thus many food preserving techniques are used here. Some of them being salting, drying, smoking and pickling. The culinary trend and history also indicates that the usage of chili peppers in this region was not only to mask the food but also because the consumption of such spices results in sweating and leads to cooling of the body.
Ingredients Commonly Used In Szechuan Cuisine
The taste sensations of Szechuan foods are derived through a number of ingredients and spices. Some of them are-
- Sichuan Peppers- These are not peppers but a type of fruit grown in Sichuan region. The hot flavor of this pepper produces a freezing effect on consuming. Sichuan pepper is also known as mountain pepper and flower pepper. It is also used in Chinese five spice powder.
- Sugar- Sugars are also commonly used ingredients of Szechuan recipes. Beet sugar, cane sugar and sugar from fruits is used in many food preparations.
- Vinegar- It is an important component which imparts sour flavor in the Szechuan recipes.
- Bitter melon- It is used to give a bitter taste in many dishes and often helps in perfecting other flavors.
- Spices- Orange peel, garlic, ginger, bean paste, salt and sesame oil are some of the spices often used in enhancing the taste of Szechuan foods.
Cooking Methods Adopted by Szechuan Cuisine
Szechwan cuisine often consists of foods conserved through marinating, salting, and drying. The common cooking methods adopted by Szechuan chefs are stir frying, steaming, roasting, simmering and braising. These methods help in infusing amazing taste and wonderful aromas in Szechuan foods.
Traditional Szechuan Cuisine Recipes
- Twice Cooked Pork-In this dish, the meat is first boiled and then stir fried. The peppercorns spice up the flavors of the dish and make it truly Szechuan.
- Mapo Doufo- It means pock- marked old woman in Chinese. The dish comprise of tofu mixed with ground pork and spicy sauce. An authentic preparation makes use of flower peppercorns.
- Fuqi feipian- The dish isalso known as "Sliced lung by the married couple". It is a common Sichuandishwhich is prepared by using finely sliced beef and beef offal. It is usually served cold or at room temperature.
Szechuan Recipes Popular in Foreign cClture
- Szechuan Shrimp- It is a dish that assorts the flavor of green onions with red hot peppers, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. The dish offers a crunchy texture and is usually relished with white rice,
- Kung Pao Chicken- Kung Pao chicken is a traditional Sichuan dish and is also known as Kung Po chicken, Kong Pao chicken, Kung Pow chicken and Gang Bao chicken. This authentic dish is a delicious combination of peanuts, chicken, spices and vegetables. The most important ingredient of Kung Pao chicken recipe is the Sichuan peppercorn
- Dan Dan Noodles- An authentic Szechuan Chinese preparation of noodles which comprise of preserved veggies combined with chili oil, Sichuan pepper and pork.
- Bon Bon Chicken- Also known as bang bangji, it is a popular dish in US. The roasted chicken is sliced and dipped in a chili sauce that gives a numbing effect. The dish is topped with chilies, scallions, peanuts, sesame seeds and peppercorn powder.
Popular Chefs Of Szechuan Cuisine
Chen Kenmin and his son Chen Kenichi are the two popular chefs of Szechuan cuisine. Chen Kenmin is known as the father of Chinese Szechwan cooking and he was the one who introduced "Prawns in Chili Sauce" and "Mapo doufu" in this cuisine. Chen Kenichi was the Iron chef Chinese on television series “Iron chef”.