Fiery Spicy Szechuan Cuisine

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.

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Waste Nothing!

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.

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Decadent Pork Belly

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.

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Nice hit of crispy greens

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.

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Ma La Craziness!

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.

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Chilli Power!

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.

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Best Potato I have ever Tasted!!!!

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.

 

Japanese & Italian Inspired Udon

Looking through the fridge there was an assortment of leftovers bits of this and bits of that.  Some udon, pumpkin, roasted eggplant and bacon.  Dinner time in 30 mins let’s create a semi healthy stir fry.

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30 Mins yummy dinner!

Started with the bacon, I tried to remove as much fat as possible and then added in the pumpkin which i cut into small pieces to mesh into a thick gooey sauce to coat the noodles.  A quick spin of Kampot pepper, salt and olive oil and the piping hot udon which i boiled for 5 mins was added in.  It still had some water in the noodles so i it helped make the sauce more light, quick chopsticks and wrist action to coat the noodles.  Last sprinkling of pepper, chilli flakes, and a quick snip of spring onions from my pot and ready to go.

I think quick meals are possible, incorporating vegetables into our diet is also quite important, I can’t claim to be miss healthy but I think baby steps!

The udon was firm and chewy, the pumpkin added a nice sweetness to the dish while the bacon helped with the savory and salty.  The eggplant was just another texture, spongy mushroom like.  The spring onion was the bit of green, i didn’t use any garlic or onions as i wanted each of the flavours in the pot to shine, garlic and onion usually dominates in simple dishes and i wanted only flavours of the 5 ingredients to really have their own part.  Everyone liked the colors and balance of flavours.  Leftovers done, let’s see next week!

 Happy Eating!

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Turned out better than expected!

Yummy Authentic Northern Thai Food

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Spicy Roasted Chilli & Eggplant dip with boiled vegetables
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Roasted Fresh Shitake Mushrooms with lime
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Stir Fried fresh local greens with garlic, chillis and oyster sauce
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Thai omelette with minced pork
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Stir fried chinese influenced vermicelli noodles with veggies, tofu and bamboo shoots
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Minced Pork with fried garlic infused and flavored with cumin, fried garlic, chillis and many thai herbs.
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Local veggies and herbs
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Hot sticky rice

Northern Thai cuisine has alot of chinese influences, note the way we eat is the sharing method with all the dishes in the middle with or without a separate spoon.  Everyone helps themselves to whats available and eats from their plate.  Steamed rice is served separately on each person’s plate but people who prefer sticky rice may have their own little container of piping hot sticky rice for themselves.  Northern Food is somewhat bland in flavor due to the chinese influences so very much not that spicy.  A typical thai meal consists of a veggie / herbs basket, chilli dips, veggies, rice and maybe a soup.  It was too hot so we omitted a soup today.

Happy Eating!