It is simple to neglect China is additional of a continent than a country: its huge territory encompasses deserts and rainforests, substantial mountains and fertile plains, salt lakes and rolling grasslands. The Sichuan region, which includes the cities of Chongqing and Chengdu, has its individual dialect, exclusive teahouse culture and an excellent culinary custom.

The most renowned attribute of Sichuanese delicacies is its fieriness, derived from the liberal use of crimson chillies. Dried in the sun, blood-crimson and lustrous, or pickled shiny scarlet in salt and wine, chillies are at the coronary heart of the region’s cooking. They are used inventively in several neighborhood dishes. Sizzled in oil, they give the ‘scorched chilli flavour’ that’s the foundation of gong bao rooster and innumerable vegetable stir-fries blended with Sichuan pepper, they are used in intensely effective ‘numbing-and-hot’ dishes. And though spice may well be the cuisine’s most unique flavor, the most salient characteristic of Sichuanese cookery is in simple fact its audacious mixtures of distinct flavours: sweet-and-bitter ‘lychee flavour’, fragile ‘fragrant-boozy flavour’ and fresh new, mild ‘ginger juice flavour’, for instance.

Sichuan pepper is a single of the most historic Chinese spices. It has a heady aroma that carries hints of wooden and citrus peel, and creates a numbing influence on the mouth. The taste and fragrance are incomparable, and most men and women succumb immediately to its aromatic charms. 1 folks rationalization for its prevalent use in Sichuanese cookery is that its numbing effects permit the intake of much more chillies than would in any other case be humanly doable. An edited extract from The Food items of Sichuan, posted by Bloomsbury (RRP: £30).

By Zigong