Different Flavors of Sichuan Food

Sichuan Food does not have spicy flavor only, it also has fish flavor, numbing and spicy flavor, dried tangerine peel flavor, sweet and sour flavor, ginger juice flavor, mashed garlic flavor, five-spice flavor, and fermented glutinous rice flavored, etc. There are over 20 different kinds of flavors in Sichuan Cuisine, basically combinations of sweet, salty, spicy, numbing, bitter and sour in different quantum. Sichuan Food is claimed that “100 dishes will have 100 different flavors”. Except these Sichuan Food is also oily and strong in taste.

Fish Flavored Dishes

Fish-Flavored Aubergine
Fish-Flavored Aubergine

As the name indicates, Fish-flavored Shredded Pork and Fish-flavored Aubergine are the dishes with fish flavors. And these two dishes are among the most popular Sichuan dishes. The sauce is made of pickled red pepper, fermented broad bean sauce, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, cooking wine. To make this sauce you also need ginger and garlic. First stir fry (in hot oil) chopped ginger, pickled red pepper and mashed garlic, then stir fry fermented broad bean sauce until the oil comes out then add in the stir fried ginger, garlic and pepper before you start to put in meat or aubergine. If you just want to make the sauce, add in salt, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and cooking wine before you turn off the fire. This sauce looks red and orange like and has a taste of a little sweet, a little sour and a little spicy.

Numbing and Spicy Flavor

Mapo Tofu
Numbing and Spicy Mapo Tofu

Numbing and spicy flavor is though the most common flavor in Sichuan Dishes. In Sichuan, a majority of the food we cook daily is with this flavor, which makes chili sauce, Sichuan pepper regular ingredients that every family must have in their kitchen. Some even say that Sichuan people put chili in the tea while it's not true. We don’t eat spicy food every day and every meal. The ingredients required to cook dishes with numbing and spicy flavor includes Sichuan pepper (either pepper corns or grinded in powder), dried red pepper, fermented broad bean sauce, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, MSG, cooking wine, scallion, garlic, ginger. Normally stir fry dried red pepper in hot oil until its color darkens and then put in Sichuan pepper (add in later if it’s pepper powder) and then put in ginger, garlic and scallion. And then put in the dishes. Salt and others to be put in later before the dish is done. If numbing is preferred, more pepper corns should be put in. These dishes usually look bright and taste a little spicy. Dishes of this flavor include Mapo Tofu and Spciy and Numbing Fish Chunks.

Spicy Flavor

Spicy Chicken Dices
Spicy Chicken Dices

The spicy flavor is what we cook in our own kitchen. And you can find these dishes everywhere in Sichuan. The ingredients to make this flavor include fermented broad bean sauce, sugar, vinegar, scallion. ginger, garlic, soy sauce, cooking wine. To make dishes of this flavor, first stir-fry garlic, ginger, scallion in hot oil and then add in the fermented broad bean sauce before you put in veges and meat. And then sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and cooking wine. These dishes are spicy and with a little taste of sweet. Dishes with such flavor include Spicy Chicken Dices and Spicy Fish Chunks.

Dried Tangerine Peel Flavor

Dried Tangerine Peel Flavor
Dried Tangerine Peel Flavored Beef

Dried Tangerine Peel is used in Chinese medicine and it is one of the common Chinese medicines that we use. It was put into dishes as we favored this taste and it is believed to do good to your body. Ingredients to make such flavored dishes include Sichuan pepper, fermented broad bean sauce, dried red pepper, soy sauce, sugar, Dried Tangerine Peels, vinegar, MSG, ginger, garlic, scallion and cooking wine. First deep fry the dried red pepper, add in Sichuan pepper until the its smell comes out, then put in the peel and scallion, ginger, garlic and last put in fermented broad bean sauce. Other ingredients to be put in later. These dishes taste spicy and have a scent of dried tangerine peels. Dishes of such flavor include Beef with dried tangerine peel, Chicken with dried tangerine peel. Although these dished are not very common in the restaurants.

Numbing Flavor

Numbing Chicken
Numbing Flavored Chicken

Numbing flavor is the most unique flavor in Sichuan Dishes. Sichuan Pepper corns are mainly what used in the dishes. Ingredients include Sichuan Pepper Corn, scallion (white part), soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, MSG. The pepper corns need to be soaked in alcohol overnight. First chop the scallion with pepper corns together into grinds, stir-fry them in hot oil and add in other ingredients. These dishes taste numbing. Famous dishes of this flavor include Numbing Cow Intestines. Some hot pot use lots of this sauce too.

Five-spice Flavor (or Strange Flavor)

Strange Flavor
Strange Flavored Chicken

It is one of the representatives of Sichuan people’s trying of making new food using different ingredients. It is with all the flavors together. Ingredients include fermented broad bean sauce, sesame paste, sugar, vinegar, Sichuan pepper powder, soy sauce, cooking wine, chili oil, scallion, ginger, pre-made soup and garlic. First to fry fermented broad bean sauce in hot oil and add in sesame paste and soup, then add in other ingredients. These dishes have all kinds of flavors. Among them Strange-flavored Chicken Dices and Strange-flavored Duck Slices are the most popular one. Although the normally in regular restaurants served are the simplified version which they normally don’t use the sesame paste.

Sour and Spicy Flavor

Sour and Spicy Flavor
Sour and Spicy Flavor Rice Noodle

This flavor is one of the most popular one as well. Normally the dishes are stir-fried or braised. For the stir-fried ones use fermented broad bean sauce, sugar, vinegar, scallion, garlic, ginger, cooking wine, soy sauce, pre-made soup, pepper oil. First to fry scallion, ginger, garlic and fermented broad bean sauce and then put in other ingredients. To braise you need regular pepper, vinegar, scallion, sesame oil and other ingredients. The stir-fried ones taste spicy and sour and a little sweet. The braised ones are with stronger spicy, sour flavor and a little salty. Dishes with such flavor include Sour and Spicy Fish Slices, Sweet and Sour Braises and Sweet and Sour Chive Soup.

Sweet and Sour Flavor

Sweet and Sour Flavor
Sweet and Sour Flavored Beef

This dish is not spicy. Ingredients include vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, starchy flour, garlic, scallion, ginger. The sweet and sour sauce needs to be made separately with the dish. To make the sauce use ginger and garlic first fry them in hot oil and put in starchy flour and water, add in vinegar, sugar and soy sauce, and then put them on the pre-made dish. Sweet and Sour Beef/Pork/Pork Ribs are among the most favored dishes of this flavor.

There are more flavors than the listed above. Through the history Chengdu people have been creating new flavors all the time. Too find your most favored flavor you have to come to Chengdu!

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