Sichuan Cuisine is one of four major schools of Chinese Cuisine, along with Guangdong Cuisine, Jiangsu Cuisine and Shandong Cuisine. Compared with the cuisine of other places, Sichuan Cuisine has very distinctive characteristics and is well known for its special and delicious taste. A popular saying goes: “Sichuan serves the best and most delicious food in China”. It will be a great enjoyment to taste Sichuan dishes and snacks when you take a trip in the province.
With a vast expanse of fertile land, crisscrossed rivers and a wide variety of local products, Sichuan has been known as the Land of Abundance since ancient times, which provides the exceptional advantages of material basis for the formation and development of Sichuan Cuisine. As Sichuan was difficulty accessed in the past, it had little influence of chaos caused by war. Over the long history, the Sichuan people have created and developed the unique culinary culture. The introduction of peppers from foreign countries to China in the 16th century added the most important stroke to Sichuan Cuisine. Sichuan Cuisine also features the use of extensive materials, changeable tastes and strong adaptability.
Sichuan Cuisine includes over 20 types of compound tastes, such as salty and delicious, home-style (salty, fresh and slightly spicy), hot spicy, fish flavored, ginger juicy, sour and hot, sweet and sour, sweet and aromatic, pepper and hot, mustard, and strange flavored, thus forming the unique style of Sichuan Cuisine. It needs to point out that different types of seasonings are needed to prepare dishes of different tastes, and some unique seasonings are necessary for preparing some special dishes. For instance, if you want to prepare spicy and home-style dishes, the broad bean paste produced in Pixian County in Sichuan is a must; and if you want to prepare fish-flavored dishes, the preserved peppers of Sichuan flavor must be used.
Sichuan Cuisine has four main dish categories: High-class banquet dishes, ordinary banquet dishes, popular and convenient dishes and home-style flavor dishes. Though each of them has its own style and characteristics, they penetrate and cooperate with each other, forming a complete system which is suitable to the people from various places in China and other countries. The high-class banquet dishes are mainly prepared with delicacies from land and sea and seasonable vegetables, requiring complicated cooking procedures and high skills. The dishes served at the high-class banquets are overall excellent in color, smell, taste and shape. The ordinary banquet dishes are simple, economical and practical and mainly prepared with local products, including meat dishes, vegetable dishes and soup. The popular and convenient dishes are quickly prepared, economical and practical, such as Diced Chicken with Peanuts, Fish-flavored Shredded Pork, Pork Slices Boiled in Water and Mapo Spicy Bean Curd. The home-style dishes are prepared with popular local products and easy skills, such as Double-cooked Pork Slices, Fried Pork Slices with Salted Pepper, Diced Pork with Peanuts, Fried Beef Slices, Boiled Pork with Mashed Garlic, Mashed Pork and Peas, Crossing-river Bean Curd Jelly, which have been well received by the people.
Sichuan chafing dish and snacks are also well known in the country. The Sichuan chafing dish is spicy, hot, delicious, tender and crisp, developing a school of its own and enjoying a high reputation both at home and abroad. The restaurants in Chengdu serve a wide variety of chafing dishes, such as red, white, mandarin duck, nutritious, fish-head, mushroom, sparerib, pig’s large intestine, sour vegetable and fish hot pots, in addition to hot pot chickens, ducks, rabbits.
Most of the snacks in Sichuan are prepared with rice, flour and coarse cereals, being delicate, tasty, economical and practical. A lot of famous snacks originated from the peddlers who hawked their wares in the streets in the past. Thanks to the development over the past several dozen years, now a number of time-honored restaurants for special snacks have been set up in Sichuan, such as Longchaoshou (wonton), Dandan noodles, Han steamed buns with stuffing, pearl-like glutinous rice balls, Beef and Ox Tripe in Chili Sauce, etc.