Szechuan cuisine, Szechwan cuisine, or Sichuan cuisine is a style of Chinese cuisine originating in Sichuan Province of southwestern China famed for bold flavors, particularly the pungency and spiciness resulting from liberal use of chili peppers, as well as the unique flavor of the Sichuan peppercorn (花椒). Peanuts, sesame paste and ginger are also prominent ingredients in Szechuan cooking. Although the region is now romanized as Sichuan, the cuisine is still sometimes spelled 'Szechuan' or 'Szechwan' in the West. There are many local variations of Sichuan cuisine within Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality, which was politically part of Sichuan until 1997.
Szechuan cuisine often contains food preserved through pickling, salting, and drying and is generally spicy. The Sichuan peppercorn 花椒 ('flower pepper') is commonly used. Szechuan pepper has an intensely fragrant, citrus-like flavour and produces a "tingly-numbing" (Chinese: 麻) sensation in the mouth. Also common are garlic, chili, ginger, star anise and other spicy herbs, plants and spices. Broad bean chili paste (豆瓣酱) is also a staple seasoning in Sichuan cuisine. The region's cuisine has also been the originator of several prominent sauces widely used in Chinese cuisine as a whole today, including yuxiang (魚香), mala (麻辣), and guaiwei (怪味).
Common preparation techniques in Szechuan cuisine include stir frying, steaming and braising, but a complete list would include more than 20 distinct techniques. Some well-known Szechuan dishes include Husband and Wife, Kung Pao Chicken and Twice Cooked Pork. Although many dishes live up to their spicy reputation, often ignored are the large percentage of recipes that use little or no hot spices at all, including dishes such as Tea Smoked Duck.
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