Welcome to the land of Spice o' plenty.
If you've been used to Eastern Chinese nosh like steam buns and roast pork your buds and sweat glands are gonna get a nice lil' wake up call. Sichuanese food is spicy, numbing, salty and oily! Don't even think about strolling in to a Sìchuān eatery unprepared. Every sit-down is an intense experience requiring the utmost focus and diligence!
One of the most famed dishes: Chóngqìng huǒ guō. Though Sìchuān later made this boiled bowl of fervor famous throughout China, Chóngqìng natives claim the dish. The little coriander looking balls floating around are actually 花椒 huājiāo [Sìchuān peppercorn], the most crucial ingredient in real Sìchuān cuisine.They provide a light citrus flavor but more noticeably numb the hell outta your mouth and lips [or nose- don't ask]. I heard that in the countryside the dentists still use huājiāo before yanking that wisdom tooth. This was our third [and hottest] huǒ guō. I had to tap out in the 6th. Hands were trembling for some reason. Burn.
牛肉麵 Niú ròu miàn. Just your basic beef noodle soup any self-respecting soup shop boils up. Once you cross into the Chóngqìng and Sìchuān provinces, by default these noodles get spoonfuls of chili and huājiāo. Look out.
宮保雞丁 gōngbǎo jīdīng [Kung Pao Chicken]. Yeah, even your Aunt Henrietta in Pawnee Rock, Kansas knows this dish. We all love it. The oriental take-out staple that they actually eat in China. Cubed chicken with peanuts and peppers or cucumber- this dish is one of the least fiery choices of the province. Watch out for the 70/30 ratio of peanuts to chicken.
Smoked ribs. Chili Powder. Nice.
'Tiger Skin Peppers' scorched over an open flame.
鱼香茄子 Yú xiāng qiézi. This is how Sìchuān does eggplant. 'Fish Flavored' eggplant although containing no fish products or seafood scent. The name comes from the cooking style also used with fish dishes. Word. Deep fry slices of eggplant until they bleed and then saute with garlic, scallions, ginger and doubanjiang paste. Oil levels not seen since the pubescent era.
夫妻肺片 fūqī fèipiàn ["Married couple's Sliced Offal"]. Sliced beef lungs in a spicy sauce served cold. Originally a economical option for blue-collar workers, in the 1930's 郭朝華, and his wife 張田政 made this dish all the rage in Chéngdū, provincial capital of Sìchuān.
The full lunchtime spread. Clockwise from the bottom we've got: a bucket of rice, smoked duck [樟茶鸭 zhāngchá yā], spicy stir-fried rabbit, stewed frog legs, fūqī fèipiàn, stir-fried [莧菜 xiàncài] spinach, sweet 'n sour pork ribs and a coagulated duck blood soup in the center. DUCK.RABBIT.FROG.LUNG.GREENS.RIB.BLOOD. Grub on that. Our best (2) meals were provided by these ladies. The previous night they took us out for a supurb 2.5 kilo plump catfish cooked in a spicy broth [shuǐzhǔ style] and topped with sliced potatoes and veggies. Plus they Gānbēi brews like Germans- even with faulty acetaldehyde dehydrogenase enzymes!
Pig brains! Creamy texture like softened bean curd with a salty swine flavor. I'm not gonna lie and say we ate the whole bowl. A bit unsavory.
Rabbit Heads. Taste about the same as you'd imagine. Couldn't crack the skull to get into the brains but the eyes and tongues were delectable. C'mon folks it's Sìchuān! Plus the rabbit was so cute looking on the menu we had to sample.
Be sure to get global with other dishes such as 麻婆豆腐 mápó dòufǔ [spicy beancurd] 回鍋肉 huíguōròu [boiled then stir-fried pork belly slices] and 辣子鸡 làzǐjī [fried chicken with chilies]. Like I said, bring your A game.