The secret to Sichuan food’s success is the spice. Although there are many excellent mild dishes, those with a hearty palate (and even stronger stomach) should try some of the region’s hotter fare. Some popular favorites include mapo doufu (pock-marked grandmother’s tofu: firm tofu cooked in chili oil with minced pork); gan bian si ji dou (stir-fried dried green beans with minced pork); gan bian niu rou si (strips of dried beef stir-fried with chilies); and yuxiang qiezi (fish-flavored eggplant, a spicy aubergine that never really tastes like fish). Instead of rice, consider a Sichuan staple, dan dan mian, a chin noodle mixed with chili oil and spring onion.
A special treat is guoba rousi, one that can be enjoyed by spice lovers and haters alike. A mild stew of pork slices, mushrooms, carrots, and peapods is poured over crispy rice cakes, which sizzle as the sauce mixes with the rice. This is a dish to be enjoyed with at least four people lest they be overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of food.
Dining out for Sichuan food is also a social experience, especially if selecting Chongqing hotpot is Chinese favorite food(Chongqing huoguo). At a typical hotpot restaurant, guests, sit at specially designed tables with a large hole in the middle, under which is placed a gas burner. Upon ordering, the server will bring a metal cauldron, split down the middle by a divider. On one side of the pot is a lighter-colored soup made from chicken stock. The opposite side is usually reddish in color, essentially a chili oil sauce guaranteed to sec the tongue on fire.
Hotpot menus feature a large selection of meats, including beef, mutton, fish, vegetables, tofu, and noodles that will eventually find their way into the pot. Thinly sliced for fast cooking, beef and mutton withstand the boiling better than poultry, and also retain more of their original flavor after being dipped in either broth. Leafy green vegetables such as lettuce (shengcai) and cabbage (baicai) also work well, as do thin noodles like rice vermicelli (fensi).
However, diner beware: eating a meal so hot can cause gastro-intestinal discomfort the following day, which can make sightseeing or traveling a very unpleasant experience, so rime your culinary trip Co Sichuan appropriately. The night before hiking the Great Wall or flying back to your home country is probably not the best occasion to sample spicy food.