Friday, December 4, 2009
As Sichuan food is not available in KK, we always have our Sichuan fix in Singapore. However, after Chengdu I found that the Sichuan food we eat in Singapore does not represent the real thing. Authentic Sichuan dishes are spicy and flavorful, with lots of red chili oil, ginger, garlic and Sichuan peppercorns which are numbing yet very fragrant and addictive. The only thing we didn't like is, like all food in China with the exception of cantonese food, the food is usually too oily. Last night we had a Sichuan feast in my place. We are blessed to know students from all parts of China who are studying in our local university. Three pretty Chinese students, from Chengdu, Jiangxi and Gansu, are going back for summer holidays and Leila, who's from Chengdu, kindly offered to cook us an authentic Sichuan meal. Twice-cooked pork Chunk of pork belly, boiled, sliced and then fried (thus the name of the dish) with bell peppers, onion, ginger and garlic mince, all blended by those essential ingredients: Sichuan peppercorns, red chili oil and Sichuan hot bean paste, preferably that with broad beans. In Chengdu this dish will be much redder and oilier. Garlic sliced pork. Boiled belly pork (which must not be too soft or too hard), sliced and drizzled with a dressing and then chilled. This dish just bursts with all the flavors of peppercorns, garlic and red chili oil. Garlic chives with pork. A simple stir-fry of crunchy sweet garlic chives and pork, blended by a sweet beanpaste sauce. We were so busy eating we forgot to take a picture of Leila's last dish, the famous scrumptious mapo tofu. The mapo tofu in KK is completely different, totally unauthentic! The several times I've cooked this dish I've been disappointed, until I went to Chengdu and bought prepared Sichuan hotbean paste, and learnt from Leila how to cut the tofu into small cubes and let it simmer long so the flavor invades the tofu. Goongbao chicken (photo taken in Chengdu, Sichuan). Another famous yummy Sichuan dish that's extremely flavorful, sweet and spicy. Goes well with hot rice. Of all the above, the garlic pork is the easiest to make so here's the recipe. Sichuan Garlic Sliced Pork 1/2 kg pork belly, not too lean or fatty 6 garlic cloves, smashed and finely minced 1 tablespoon ginger, pounded and very finely minced 2 tablespoon light soy sauce 1 tsp fine sugar a pinch of msg red chili oil (preferably home-made) Sichuan peppercorn oil and fried peppercorns 1. Scald the pork belly (uncut, in a chunk) with boiling water. 2. Put pork into a pot, add enough water to cover, add a piece of thumb-sized ginger and boil till cooked. 3. After 40 minutes or so, test with a fork. If too soft, it'll be hard to slice thinly. 4. Let the pork cool so it'll be easier to slice. You can chill it too. 5. Meanwhile, mix the first 6 ingredients well, till the sugar is dissolved. Season to taste. (Or, as Leila does it, sprinkle the pork layers with the ingredients one by one). 6. Slice the pork thinly against the grain and arrange it on a plate in a single layer. Drizzle the dressing over, then drizzle the peppercorn oil and fried peppercorns, then repeat with another layer. Finally sprinkle some fresh coriander leaves over and chill till ready to eat. Note (edited): Make your own red chili oil by heating up some veg oil till it smokes, then switch off the fire, pour the oil into a heat-proof container (thick glass jar) in which the chili flakes are already put. If the oil is too hot, the chili flakes will burn and become bitter. If oil is too cold, the flavor and color won't develop. When the oil runs low, add hot oil to it again but be careful about the jar. Make Sichuan peppercorn oil by heating up the oil until it almost smokes, let it cool a little (too hot n the delicate peppercorns will burn), then add the peppercorns into the oil and pour it into a heat-proof container.