Do you know the plant’s secret hidding in Sichuan Cuisine?

 

As one of the most popular cuisine in China, Sichuan Cuisine is famous for being hot and spicy. Not everyone can stand spicy but once you accept it, you will love it.

So, what ingredients do we need to make Sichuan Cuisine? Do you ever know well about those ingredients? Today we are going to unveil the secrets of those ingredients we use in Sichuan food.

Let’s take Yuxiang shredded pork for example. In order to create the fish-like flavor, we need Chili pepper, Sichuan pepper, pepper, scallion, garlic, ginger, Pixian broad bean chili paste, rapeseed oil, sugar, salt, vinegar, soy sauce, cooking wine and so on. We are going to learn about the king of Sichuan cuisine ingredients today, peppers.

No doubt, the first and most important ingredient is Chili pepper.

Chili Pepper(Capsicum annuum) is a plant of the genus Capsicum, Solanaceae. It is native to South America, from Mexico to Columbia, and was introduced to China in Ming Dynasty . So, if you see Chili Pepper appearing in any TV play or movies about any dynasty before Ming, you can paste the chili sauce on the scenarist’s face…(joking)

Chili Pepper has been cultivated in various shape. Peppers are also various in pungency. In order to measure the degree of pungency, people invent Scoville Units.

 

We all have seen this kind of Chili pepper which is called vegetable chili without any spiciness.

This is called the pod pepper, its Scoville Units can be between 30000 to 50000.

This is one of the hottest Chili pepper in the world: the Naga Viperwhich reaches 1400,000 Scoville Units. It is purely chemical weapon.

Compared with its hot character, however, Chili Pepper has a cute white flower.

In my opinion, Sichuan cuisine’s feature is numbing taste rather than hot. Indeed, compared to Hunan, Jiangxi and other provinces, Sichuan food is more numbing. Many people can accept hot, but can not accept numbing taste.The numbing taste comes from the plant: Sichuan pepper(Zanthoxylum bungeanum).

This plant is a deciduous small tree with thorns on the branches. It loves sunny arid areas such as Hanyuan, Maoxian in Sichuan. We usually use its red peel which is full of essential oil. The numbing taste is just hidden in the oil.

Compared to the alien chili pepper,Sichuan pepper is authentic local spices. It has been used for thousands of years in China and was first documented in the Book of Songs. Our ancestors loved Sichuan pepper.  They thought Sichuan pepper could exorcise evil spirits. Their dense fruits on the branches symbolized fertility. Therefore some royal families added it into the paint for the wall of emperor’s palace, This type of house was called “Jiaofang”. You will know it if you watch Chinese costume drama.

The third kind of pepper is the common pepper you might use everyday which scientific name is Piper nigrum.

Pepper is native to Southeast Asia, and it also grows in Southern China.

As you may know, pepper is divided into black and white pepper. In fact, there is no fundamental difference between the two types. When the fruit is about to become mature, just harvest and dry it ,then you will get black pepper. While the fruit is fully ripe, if you remove the red rind, wash and dry it , then you will get white pepper.

Compared to white pepper, the black pepper smells stronger and its grinding powder are relatively rough. Black pepper is good for cooking steak or barbeque and the white pepper usually is used to make soup.

The unripe fruits of the pepper plant are green, and ripe ones are red.

 

 

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