Sichuan Cookery Paperback – 4 Dec 2003
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Sichuan food is one of the great unknown cuisines of the world, famous in Chinese history and legend for its extraordinary variety and richness. Chinese people say that "China is the place for food, but Sichuan is the place for flavour", and local gourmets claim the region boasts 5000 different dishes. This book includes sections on the history of Sichuan cooking, Sichuan culinary culture, the art of cutting, the importance of balance in taste, presentation and nutrition, cooking ingredients and methods.
About the Author
Fuchsia Dunlop studied Sichuan cookery at the Sichuan Culinary Institute in Chengdu, where she lived from 1994-96. She is an East Asia specialist at the BBC World Service, and writes about Chinese food for Time Out magazine and guides.
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And for the most part once you've got chili bean sauce, dried chiles, light and dark soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil and sichuan pepper, you can do a lot of the recipes. And then it's heaven : you really get hooked to that spicy kick, and it's dead easy to do. For the more ambitious readers, you also get complicated recipes such as peking duck or hot pot. You discover new things too : I had no idea that cold dishes were such an important part of sichuan cooking. You basically cook something, and it's supposed to be eaten cold (including duck, rabbit, chicken etc...), not as leftovers.
Speaking of leftovers, it's the main problem of this type of cooking : it's a one shot. Heating it up the next day is definitely not as good. There is no big meal that you can eat for 3 days, unlike European cooking. This also means vegetable dishes are separate : stews or stir-fries aren't supposed to be eaten alone. But the vegetables dishes are great too. The spicy long beans, the matchstick potatoes, etc... Expect a very oily type of cooking though : it's not for everyone, especially the fish dishes that are bathing in oil.
So, to sum up: recipes that produce food you would get in China as authentic Sichuan food, clearly and well written with precise guidance that delivers outstanding results each time. Buy it and cook EVERY recipe - you won't regret it.