Sichuan is a southwestern Chinese province that has a rich culinary style. Traditional dishes are packed with fresh vegetables and spices and are completely different to the dishes you find in Chinese restaurants that have been modified to mimic the tastes Australians are familiar with. Garlic, ginger and chillies are used abundantly, and the region has its own spice, called Sichuan pepper, which has strong citrusy notes. Pickled vegetables are often added to meals, and meat is almost always present. Pork is the most commonly used meat in Sichuan cuisine, but organ meats, chicken and beef are also enjoyed. Here's an overview of four authentic Sichuan dishes meat lovers will enjoy:
This hearty hotpot combines a spicy broth with earthy mushrooms and thick slices of meat. The broth contains bean paste, fresh chillies, ginger and Sichuan pepper. You get to choose the type of meat you want in your hotpot, and you can select more than one type of meat if you like. Pork and kidneys are popular, and if you enjoy organ meat, heart is a chewy, satisfying addition to this dish.
This is a fried chicken dish that packs a punch. The chicken is flavoured with a marinade of rice wine vinegar and ginger before being dipped in cornflour and cooked with lots of whole chillies. This is the perfect dish to enjoy on cold winter nights and is ideal as an appetiser. If you want to enjoy it as a main meal, simply order a side of steamed rice and stir-fried seasonal vegetables.
Spicy Aubergine And Pork
Baked until smoky, aubergine slices are combined with stir-fried pork and allowed to simmer in a sauce composed of soy, chilli paste, rice vinegar and rich chicken broth. The silky aubergine and tender pork complement each other beautifully. This is a filling, satisfying dish that's delicious with a side of green beans sautéed with Sichuan pepper.
For this dish, ground pork is served in a sauce containing fermented soy beans, garlic, water chestnuts, mushrooms and red chillies. This is a hearty, flavour-packed dish that's both spicy and earthy. Enjoy mapo pork with rice and steamed greens.
As you can see, authentic Sichuan cuisine is a tasty treat for meat lovers, and these are just a few examples of the meaty dishes on offer. So, next time you feel like eating out at a Chinese restaurant, ditch the westernised chicken curry and opt for a dish you've never tried. Your server can tell you about the authentic Sichuan dishes on offer.