Exploring the Joys of Sichuan Cooking at Home

With the coronavirus lockdowns still occurring in parts of the country, people have gotten creative with ways to pass the time at home. Even those who never spent much time cooking or baking before having found it to be a pleasant diversion. 

Preparing Sichuan food is especially popular. As one of the most loved cuisines in China, Sichuan food is hot, spicy, and comforting. This is just one of many fun facts about it.

The Sichuanese and Their Love for Spicy Food

It’s been over 2,000 years since peppercorn first appeared on food in the Chinese region of Sichuan. Locals and visitors to the region have loved it ever since. Today, peppercorn continues to be an essential part of any Sichuan dish. In Chinese characters, the term peppercorn literally means numbing spice. 

Although it has been around for two millennia now, the popularity of peppercorn really took off in Sichuan in the 1600s. It was at that time that it got even hotter and claimed its place as a national treasure.

Sichuan Food is Among the Most Distinct of Chinese Dishes

In the United States, lobster is popular on the East Coast while sourdough bread is all the rage on the West Coast. The popularity of foods by region works much the same way in China. Cantonese dishes, for example, are known for their sweetness while dishes hailing from Hunan typically taste hot and sour. 

People recognize Sichuan food for its peppercorns, vegetables, beef, and rice. The combination of the other ingredients and the spiciness of the peppercorns truly makes Sichuan food unforgettable.

Follow These Professional Recipes to Make Sichuan Chili Oil at Home

Z & Y Restaurant, an authentic Chinese restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown, published a recipe for Sichuan chili oil by Chef Han in April 2019. It takes 10 minutes to prepare, one hour to cook, and requires these ingredients:

  • 1 pound of Sichuan dry chili pepper
  • 1 pound of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 pieces of Amomum Tsaoka
  • 5 pieces of star anise
  • 5 pieces of bay leaves
  • 25 grams of sesame
  • 50 thick-sliced grams of ginger
sichuan chili oil preparation

After gathering all ingredients together, heat two teaspoons of oil at 250 degrees Fahrenheit and follow the rest of the instructions from the post on the Z & Y Restaurant website.

Another favorite from the Z & Y Restaurant blog is Authentic Mapo Tofu Recipe. The prep time for this dish is just five minutes with a total cook time of 20 minutes. Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 pound soft tofu
  • 1 teaspoon of black beans
  • 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon powder
  • 1 tablespoon of corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon of Sichuan chili sauce
  • 2 spring onions
  • 3 ginger slice pieces
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 30 pieces of peppercorn
  • Chili pepper powder
  • Ground pork
  • Half of a garlic clove
  • Half tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • Pinch of salt
  • Quarter cup of Chinese Shaoxing wine

Anyone interested in preparing this dish at home can find the cooking instruction at the above link for authentic mapo tofu. Happy cooking!

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