Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Szechuan Cuisine

Some relatives of mine live in Chicago, and while we were there visiting my grandma, she took all of us out for a full Szechuan dinner at a friend's restaurant. My only remaining grandma is the source of my being 1/4 Szechuan, and probably the reason why I like MaPo Dofu so much. The special thing about "spicy" in Szechuan cuisine is that it's not only flaming hot, it also temporarily numbs your mouth. The peppercorns used are hua jiao, different from conventional peppercorns. The combination of runny nose, numb mouth, and burnt tongue only makes you exclaim, "hao shruang!"

The name of the restaurant is "Asian Bistro," which has nothing to do with it's Chinese name. The Chinese, found on the right hand side of the picture, is "ya shuan."
The first thing they brought out were these flaming fried shrimp, on the house, because they liked my uncle and his family. The ratio of hot Szechuan chili peppers is equal to shrimp. You can only imagine how spicy and extremely tasty these crispy bombs were.
In Chinese, this is su ji, or vegetarian chicken. It is not spicy, and consists of dofu pi (skin that forms on top of the liquid when you're making tofu) wrapped around chopped mushrooms. Very savory.
I'm not sure what this is, but it just looks like some generic stir-fry of some sort that you would find on the "american" version of the menu. The rest of the stuff we ordered were from the "chinese" version of the menu.
Fu Chi Fei Pian!!! This is my first encounter with "married couple (fu chi) slices (pian) of lung (fei). It was actually quite tasty, though I think it should have been spicier. In reality, sliced lung is sliced cow stomach and other tendon-y parts of the cow. I tasted the slices that looked like legitimate cow meat, but I'm sure tripe is good too.
Cheng du liang mien. Cheng du is the capital of Szechuan. Liang mien just means the noodles are served cold. It tastes a bit like peanuts but is not that spicy.
Steamed fish. I was surprised that this fish was fillet-ed, as Chinese people tend to eat the whole fish. The sauce is mostly soy sauce and sesame oil and garlic. The green things on top are a type of chive, I think, with ginger julienne.
Categorized as a dessert, ba bao fan (8 treasures: usually contains 8 different types of fruits and nuts) is not normally eaten after a meal. I only ever remember eating ba bao fan during special occasions like Chinese New Year, never with everyday meals. The rice is supposed to be more colored than what you see below. This specimen is not a very accomplished mound of ba bao fan.

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