The three most commonly consumed types of poultry in Sichuan are: pork, beef, and chicken.
At a Sichuanese cuisine school, future chefs practice knife art taught by their teacher, trying to master a new skill without accidentally removing their fingers.
Only after years of practice can you dice a clove of garlic like this.
But for perfectionists or people who are number and detail-oriented, learning to master the flavours of Chinese dishes can drive you nuts.
Take the famous dish—yuxiang shredded pork, for example.
“yuxiang” is a complex flavour achieved by mixing salty, sweet, sour, and spicy condiments.
But its recipe often lists: a pinch of salt, a dash of sugar, a little bit of vinegar.
Like, how much is “a little bit”, exactly?
And when you say “a handful of red chilli”,
Do you mean these “hands”? Tiny little cute paws that can maybe handle two or three sticks of chilli.
Or these hands?
When the master chef says “a spoonful of chopped spring onion,”
Some think he is talking about this kind of dainty spoon,
But the master chef actually meant a big-ass ladle like this:
Maybe measuring cups, weighing scales, and thermometers would be a nice addition to the kitchen.
Of these hardworking trainee chefs, how many of them will be able to master this complex dish?
Successful examples of yuxiang shredded pork will arouse the interest of not just the teacher.
In the hands of the master chef, plain water-boiled food turns into 100-yuan-a-plate items at five-star hotels, all with the help of these sauces.
On top of the 24 basic flavours, there are also the compound flavours.
Chilli peppers: “seven-star” pepper, “bullet head” pepper, “xiaomi” pepper, “erjingtiao” pepper, and “sky-pointing” pepper . . .
Cat: I want to try the pepper. It looks interesting.
Tortoise: trust me, you don’t.
Rabbit: don’t listen to him. I feel fine. Try the red peppers.
Many Sichuanese men are masters of the kitchen.
He makes everything for dinner:
Spicy diced chicken.
Double cooked pork.
But alas, there’re always exceptions.
“lu” means food cooked in a master stock with a whole range of condiments and soy sauce, usually for hours.
Xinjin, Chengdu, Sichuan
A restaurant that specialises in fish.
Even lotus leaves can be used in fish dishes.
This restaurant alone has over thirty types of fish dishes on the menu, many of which are the chefs’ own creations.
They have a museum dedicated to salt.
As well as a salt well that’s more than 1,000 metres deep.
A simple lunch at a village house can include so many flavours:
Spicy boiled beef in chilli oil.
Salty steamed pork with preserved suancai.
Chickens here lead a free-range, idyllic, well-fed life.
Until the day they’re sent into the kitchen.
Authentic “bangbang” chicken.
“bangbang” refers to the wooden stick used to tenderise the chicken.
But it’s applied to the chicken directly. Instead, the bangbang hits the spine of the knife.
No MSG, vinegar, spring onion, and the other usual condiments.
Just a big scoop of hot chilli oil.