Sichuan food (Sichuan Cuisine)is quite popular over the world. What comes into your mind when you think of Sichuan food? Is it hot, spicy and sometimes sweet due to the fish sauce? However Sichuan food was not born to be like this.
Back into three kingdoms, Sichuan area was the kingdom of shu (蜀国) and located in the southwest part of China. Sichuan people at that time liked to eat sweet food. Until Jin Dynasty, people add ginger, onions, chives and mustard into food and the food at that time is called pungent food. So at the very beginning, there is no hot in Chinese Sichuan cuisine. We still can find some dishes carries the traditional flavor such as boiled pork with mashed garlic(蒜泥白肉).
Around200 or 300 years ago, hot peppers were brought into China. And people in this area begin to use hot peppers in their daily cooking. It is recorded that hot peppers were popular among folk.
Along with the development of Sichuan cuisine, the unique character of spicy and numb also becomes popular in many Sichuan dishes.
The weather might be another reason of the popularity of hot peppers. In fact, hot peppers and Sichuan peppercorns (Sichuan pepper in short) are considered as the hearts of Sichuan cuisine. There are lots of mountains in Sichuan province. And the unique terrain creates high water content in air. People in this area needs to eat hot peppers and peppercorns for dehumidify. During the period when hot peppers are not introduced, ginger and other spices played the similar role.
Now, there are hundreds of flavors in Sichuan cuisine. And each dish has its own unique taste and flavor. Most of the Chinese cooking methods are used in Sichuan cuisine. And another thing that make Sichuan cuisine special is the seasoning used. From baoning vinegar, Dou-chi (fermented soy beans) to famous Pixian Doubanjiang and Chongqing chili sauce, all the different types of seasonings used in Sichuan cuisine endow the long lasting vitality of Sichuan cuisine.