Written by Viator, May 2012
While many may associate Sichuan cuisine with spicy sauces and a liberal amount of peppercorn, connoisseurs of the cuisine will tell you that Sichuan recipes only incorporate spicy elements into a handful of dishes. Sometimes dishes of Sichuan cuisine will be basic enough to cool off the spice from a previous dish before leaving you scrambling for water on the very next plate. A culinary journey, a meal of Sichuan cuisine can frequently stretch on for hours, even though the food often appears in a flash. Characterized by its intense flavor and brisk stir-frying over a hot fire, Sichuan dishes such as Kung Pao chicken have become staples of the cuisine which are recognizable and enjoyed in nearly every corner of the world.
More than just spices, Sichuan cuisine also offers flavors which take your taste buds in sour, salty and sweet directions. After all, the chili pepper which is used in many Sichuan dishes was only introduced to China within the past 300 years. With a history which pre-dates any contact with outside influences, many of the dishes in Sichuan cuisine are based upon recipes stretching back thousands of years.
A separate yet important element of Sichuan cuisine is the hot pot dishes found at most food establishments across southern China. Using a pot of simmering stock or flavored broth, everything from thinly sliced meats to vegetables and tofu are marinated and cooked in the stew in an effort to absorb the flavor of the stock. As is to be expected with the Sichuan style, oftentimes the resulting flavors can be quite potent and spicy, but the resulting perspiration is all part of the savory adventure found in the flavorful food of Sichuan.