Szechuan cuisine, Sichuan cuisine, or Szechwan cuisine (Chinese: 四川菜; pinyin: Sìchuān cài or Chinese: 川菜; pinyin: chuān cài) is a style of Chinese cuisine originating from Sichuan province in southwestern China. It has bold flavours, particularly the pungency and spiciness resulting from liberal use of garlic and chili peppers, as well as the unique flavour of the Sichuan pepper. Peanuts, sesame paste, and ginger are also prominent ingredients in Szechuan cooking. Although the official pinyin romanisation now is Sichuan, the cuisine is still often spelled Szechuan or Szechwan in North America. There are many local variations of Szechuan cuisine within Sichuan province and the Chongqing municipality, which was part of Sichuan until 1997. The four regional sub-styles include Chongqing, Chengdu, Zigong, and Buddhist vegetarian style. UNESCO declared Chengdu to be a city of gastronomy in 2011, due to the sophistication of its cooking.
Sichuan is colloquially known as the "heavenly country" due to its abundance of food and natural resources. One ancient Chinese account declared that the "people of Sichuan uphold good flavour, and they are fond of hot and spicy taste." Most Szechuan dishes are spicy, although a typical meal includes non-spicy dishes to cool the palate. According to at least one Chinese culinary writer, Szechuan cuisine is composed of seven basic flavours: sour, pungent, hot, sweet, bitter, aromatic, and salty. Szechuan food is divided into five different types: sumptuous banquet, ordinary banquet, popularised food, household-style food, and food snacks. Szechuan cuisine has changed little over the years, and milder versions of Sichuan dishes remain a staple of American Chinese cuisine.
A chilli hot pot
characteristic of Szechuan cuisine
Szechuan cuisine often contains food preserved through pickling, salting, and drying and is generally spicy due to heavy application of chili oil. The Sichuan pepper (Chinese: 花椒; pinyin: huājiāo; literally "flower pepper") is commonly used. Sichuan pepper has an intensely fragrant, citrus-like flavour and produces a "tingly-numbing" (Chinese: 麻; pinyin: má) sensation in the mouth. Also common are garlic, chili peppers, ginger, star anise and other spicy herbs, plants and spices. Broad bean chili paste (simplified Chinese: 豆瓣酱; traditional Chinese: 豆瓣醬; pinyin: dòubànjiàng) is also a staple seasoning in Szechuan cuisine. The region's cuisine has also been the source of several prominent sauces widely used in Chinese cuisine in general today, including yuxiang (魚香), mala (麻辣), and guaiwei (怪味).
Common preparation techniques in Szechuan cuisine include stir frying, steaming and braising, but a complete list would include more than 20 distinct techniques. Beef is somewhat more common in Szechuan cuisine than it is in other Chinese cuisines, perhaps due to the prevalence of oxen in the region. Stir-fried beef is often cooked until chewy, while steamed beef is sometimes coated with rice flour to produce a very rich gravy. Szechuan cuisine also utilises various bovine and porcine organs as ingredients such as intestine, arteries, the head, tongue, skin, and liver in addition to other commonly utilised portions of the meat.
Notable dishes 
A Chengdu-style, Sichuan hot pot
Some Szechuan dishes include Kung Pao chicken and twice cooked pork. Although many dishes live up to their spicy reputation, there are a large percentage of recipes that use little or no hot spices at all, including dishes such as tea smoked duck.
See also 
Further reading 
- Fuchsia Dunlop. Land of Plenty : A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003. ISBN 0393051773.
- Jung-Feng Chiang, Ellen Schrecker and John E. Schrecker. Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook : Szechwan Home Cooking. New York: Harper & Row, 1987. ISBN 006015828X.
External links