Sichuan Cuisine

Updated: May 21 2008(GMT+08:00)

Szechuan cuisine, Szechwan cuisine, or Sichuan cuisine is a style of Chinese cuisine originating in Sichuan Province of southwestern China which has an international reputation for being hot and numbing, because of the common ingredient Sichuan peppercorn or fagara. Although the region Sichuan is now romanized as Sichuan, the cuisine is still sometimes spelled 'Szechuan' or 'Szechwan' in the West. Translated, Sichuan means "Four Rivers". The four styles are separated by location: Chengdu, Chongqing, the Greater River (Yangtze), and the Lesser River (Jialing).


Szechuan cuisine often contains food preserved through salting, pickling, drying and smoking, and is generally spicy. Nearly universal is The Sichuan peppercorn; an indigenous plant whose peppercorns produce a fragrant, numbing, almost citrusy spice. Also common are chili, ginger and spicy herbs. Broad bean chili paste is also a staple seasoning in Sichuan cuisine.

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 widespread use 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.



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