My knowledge of Szechuan Cuisine or Sichuan Food is actually limited to Ma La Hot Pot, the bubbling stock with hot oil, szechuan peppercorns, garlic, five spice ingredients and extreme amount of dried chillies. It is actually my favorite type of hot pot. Going to a szechuan restaurant was interested or so i thought. Would it actually be the same approach? All food just topped with the spicy oil / spices? I was in for a treat.
Organ meat is a very chinese thing, we eat everything. Most likely it’s a waste not mentality. If i’m not istaken this is the stomach from a cow. It’s got a chewy crispyish texture more than any taste actually but the spicy garlicy oil made it a nice appetizer to whet your appetite before the fire starts. I appreciated the green cirpsy and watery thin celery stalk to help add some coolness to my poor tongue.
This was not spicy at all, i think it was great over piping hot rice. I’m not entirely sure how they made that sauce but it was more sesame in taste, i’m sure there’s ginger in there somewhere. I understand it looks oily but it doesn’t feel too oily, it doesn’t coat your tongue like when you chew on a blob of butter or margarine. It seems to melt away leaving this comforting taste. Really good. Too salty to eat alone although i preferred it with some rice.
In Thailand food we usually stir fry cabage with fish sauce, over thre it’s oyster sauce i presume with a few dried chillies thrown in for good measure. Done correctly cabbage shouldn’t soggy but with a nice crisp texture and juicy freshness. This helped balace out all the rich meats so far.
My absolute favorite is the Ma La spices, this arrived smoking hot and you can actually feel the dried chillies sizzling in the hot oil. It’s probably palm oil, with dried chillies, garlic, szechuan peppercorns and other crazy goodness. There is a thick vermicelli noodle which is sticky and chewy in texture and sliced beef. It was a bomb of chillies, numbness and savory saltiness in every bite. The beef was tender and the soup underneath was quite delicious. However you do have to sort your way through the pool of oil. People may cringe at the amount of oil, but i’m actually ok, it’s not like we eat this every single day.
Now this is everyone’s favorite, the MAPO TOFU. You see in japanese restaurants but you dont really find it in every chinese restaurant. Chinese food is quite vast with different regions serving totally different food. This was like bolder MA LA crazy version, it was so spicy, a hint of sweet with a bit of minced prok thrown in for good measure. It was so delicious over piping hot rice. You can’t really eat it on it’s own, it starts to burn after the third bite.
This potato dish arrived and i though it was just short strands of spaghetti stir fried. To my amazement it was round strands of potato, stir fried. Its so hard to explain, it was mushy, but it was al dente but not under cooked. It was salty, savory, not too oily. It was very interesting. It was the highlight of the night, it seemed so normal but the taste and texture was just so interesting and delicious. I must find out how they cooked this dish.
Szechuan cuisine is really more than just the hot pot but i do believe it’s an acquired taste, it’s very different from my day to day chinese food but it’s a great lift to a cold gloomy day washed with some cold beer. Definitely for people who love spice, and dont mind a bit of oiliness. Only warning is for your stomach and it’s a scary addiction.