Whilst I mainly ate xiao chi we did have the occasional main course over our 5 days in Chengdu. I wasn't going to bother blogging these but Sichuan food seems popular so I will.
Fish Fragrant Aubergine - this dish is one I've made at home, as have afew folk I know through food forums. A deep frying turns the aubergine into melt in the mouth buttery goodness, the ubiquitous chili (through the umami laden fermented chili bean paste) turns it into one of the greatest aubergine dishes known to man. I'd rather be writing about cooking it than eating it in a restaurant, helping out with a recipe, but as I'm stuck here I highly recommend Sunflower's recipe, go the whole hog and deep fry though.
Kong Pao Chicken - the coated chicken with masses of sauce of some English versions of this dish bear little resemblance to the real thing, which in typical Sichuan fashion had oil as an integral part of the dish, with a little sauce clinging to the juicy morsels of chicken. The restaurant we ate this in took the liberty of toning it down for tourist tastes without asking us, much to my displeasure - it could have done with far more dried chillies. Whilst I'm pointing folk to recipes I've had great success with this one.
Pig's Trotter with Seaweed - no idea if it's Sichuan food but I ate it in Sichuan. Tender pig's trotter sat in a plain but meaty stock with such mouthfeel that you know it would have set to a firm jelly with the slightest drop in temperature. Crunchy seaweed (the thick kind, no laver here) added some veg and welcome vitamins.
Cold Beef with Chili - in a quest to find the UK takeaway favourite shredded beef with chili's true form I came across this dish when a restaurant opposite Chengdu's very interesting Jinsha Museum said they had something similar. Whilst not overly similar (it did contain beef and chili) it was Sichuan through and through, cold beef slices and crunchy vegetables (celery and spring onion) were coated in masses of ground dried chili and Sichuan pepper. Reach for this tissues as this was hot, hot, hot.
Unknown Aubergine Dish - this strange one was grabbed from a table of dishes outside a restaurant, a popular method of displaying what's on offer in Chengdu eateries. Cold, soft aubergine sat with sliced green chili, onion and garlic. Hao chi (good eat i.e. tasty).
Shredded Beef with Chili (or gan bian niu rou) - this dish was finally tracked down and was surprisingly similar to the UK, even if there were some noticeable differences. The batter was thinner, so less batter more beef. There was a strong hint of Sichuan pepper, both in the beef's coating and as whole peppercorns in the sauce. Said sauce was the main difference too, gone was the sweetness and stickiness relpaced with - you guessed it - oil, which had been turned red with the addition of some chili bean paste. I made extensive notes on this dish so am hoping to recreate it whenever I choose to return home.
Suan La Tang (sour hot soup) - I wanted to track down hot and sour soup like I eat in the UK but couldn't find anything similar, although I know it exists over here. I did end up with this fine dish though. Egg and tomato soup (and scrambled egg with tomato) is eaten everywhere over here and this had been transformed to a sour and hot version with the addition of pickled green chilies, the chilies providing the hot and their vinegar providing the sour. Very tasty and, I imagine, very easy to replicate even without a recipe.
That's it for Sichuan folks. Seeing them all laid out in these few posts, and knowing I've not blogged everything I ate, I think I've done pretty well for just 5 days in province. Bye bye Sichuan, you will be missed.