My journey into Sichuanese cooking was brought to you via Fuchsia Dunlop's book, Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking.
In the USA, Sichuan cooking has a reputation of being mind-blowing fiery. However, based upon the recipes I've made so far I would say the recipes are comfortably spicy, but I'm a chile-head. I was half expecting more layers of flavor - salty, sweet, sour and spicy, garlicy... etc, but the recipes I tried seemed to rely on savory and spicy.
Overall, I enjoyed the dishes I tried immensely.
My final dish I plan to make is Dan Dan Noodles. Two recipes are provided in the book, the second recipe appealed to me for the use of sesame paste. I have a lot of Tahini in the fridge from a previous Daring Kitchen challenge.
That's Dan Dan noodles, not to be confused with Bam Bam Rubble, Tom Tom Club (Genius of Love) and not to be confused with Gene Gene the Dancing Machine.
However, cooking, sharing and eating is just as fun where you just want to get up and dance!
Xie Laoban's Dan Dan Noodles
1 lb Fresh Chinese Noodles or 12 oz Dried Chinese Noodles
1 T peanut oil
3 Sichuanese Dried Chiles, snipped in half, seeds discarded
1/2 t whole Sichuan peppercorn
2 T Sichuanese ya cai or Tianjin preserved vegetable
4 oz ground beef
2 t light soy sauce
Salt to taste
For the sauce:
1.2 - 1 t Ground roasted Sichuan pepper
1/4 t salt
4 t sesame paste
1 T light soy sauce
1 T dark soy sauce
2 T dark chili oil with chile flakes
The new ingredients added to my pantry - salted, garlicky preserved vegetable greens and chili oil. I couldn't believe how difficult finding chili oil would be. There is a recipe included in the book, but since I picked this recipe at the spur of the moment I didn't feel like making my own.
This is the preserved vegetables. The main aroma was garlic. A good thing!
Making the sauce - combining the Tanini (sesame paste) and ground peppercorns.
Combining the rest of the ingredients... the resulting sauce was pretty thick, like a chocolate ganache.
Rest of the ingredients are pretty simple.
Whole peppercorn, seeded dried chilies, ground chicken mixed with the rest of the ingredients.
Fry the chilies and peppercorns in 1T of oil until fragrant.
Add the preserved vegetables to fry about a minute
Add the ground meat and cook.
Set aside for later.
When the noodles are cooked - I used fettuccine pasta.
Mix in the sauce and top with the meat filling.
The noodles were nutty, savory with a little punch from the Sichuan peppercorns. I probably undersauced the noodles, but overall I liked the results.