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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 07, 2023
Headline for 05 Famous Szechuan Food Types that you Must Try – Sample Spicy Fare in Szechuan
Joanna James Joanna James
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05 Famous Szechuan Food Types that you Must Try – Sample Spicy Fare in Szechuan

Szechuan cuisine is probably one of China's most popular regional cuisines. Made with bold flavours and fiery sauces, it can be found all over the world. Here are 5 Szechuan dishes you must try.


Kung Pao Chicken

Whether you've had it before or not, you've probably already heard of Kung Pao Chicken in a dozen movies. Outside of China, this is the most famous Szechuan dish and with good reason. There are many varieties of this sweet and spicy dish, but in general, they all contain stir-fried chicken cubes, fresh peppers, Szechuan peppercorns and fried peanuts. An authentic Kung Pao Chicken recipe doesn't contain fresh peppers, and instead combines the natural succulent flavours of the chicken with the spicy peppercorns, while the crunchy peanuts add texture.


Twice cooked pork

A Szechuan style stir-fry, the dish is named after the cooking method – twice cooked. The pork belly is boiled until it is almost done, then sliced and fried with peppers and garlic sprouts. Two distinct kinds of seasoning are added to give the dish its unique flavour - Szechuan doubanjiang (chilli bean sauce) and fermented black bean sauce. You may find a similar dish called "Yan Jian Rou", which is a simplified stir-fry that uses nearly the exact ingredients, but with a different cooking method.


Sichuan boiled dishes

If you ever get the opportunity to dine at a Szechuan restaurant, then you must try a boiled dish. Boiling is a unique way of cooking in Szechuan cuisine. Aromatic ingredients like ginger and garlic along with seasonings like peppercorns, fresh peppers and other common seasonings are used to create a soup base, and then either fish, meat or tofu is boiled in it until tender. The final step of all boiled dishes is to pour hot oil on the meat after the dish is prepared. This gives the meat a stronger taste and vibrant colour. Usually, the meat is served with other side dishes like mushrooms, bean sprouts or cucumbers.


Mapo tofu

The most famous Chinese tofu dish, you can find this heavenly recipe in almost every Asian restaurant like The Service 1921 for example, a riverside restaurant in Chiang Mai. The generous use of Doubanjiang paste creates a spicy coating on the stir-fried tofu which in turn creates a nice contrast between the spicy exterior and silky-smooth centre of the tofu. Mapo Tofu is usually served with stir-fried minced pork or beef.


Cold noodle salad

This refreshing dish is a summertime favourite in Szechuan. Most restaurants will provide cold noodle salads (known as Liang Mian) as main options during hot weather. The cold noodles are best served with drinks or a savoury porridge. You can also find most street vendors selling cold noodles everywhere in Szechuan, especially during the hotter months. Besides liang mian, there are also several other kinds of Sichuan noodles like jelly noodles, pickled vegetable noodles and Dan Dan noodles. Try a cold noodle salad with pickled vegetables and fried beans.