Saturday, March 12, 2016

Sichuan Food

S loves Sichuan food, and we love S. But we aren't brave enough to do mala hotpot (麻辣锅) with her. We can do spices, and chilli-spicy, including ghost peppers. (Not on a dare lah; we're not stupid.) And of course any sort of chilli padi. I haven't met a spicy som tam I won't eat. But we'll die from the 'numbing peppercorns' (大红袍花椒花椒), which is the singular spice that lends Sichuan cuisine that dizzying twang on the tastebuds. So it was easier to hold S's birthday meal at Silk Road (丝绸之路) at Amara Hotel.

S's husband probably LOL big-time when he knew where we were headed for dinner. He teased her and said "Wah...what a big sacrifice your friends are making for you!" Hahahaha. Well, I guess not many of us are that hot about Sichuan food. :PPP Pun fully intended.

The good news is- obviously we survived. While Silk Road is a decent restaurant, it doesn't slap on the numbing peppercorns the way restaurants in China do.  Silk Road isn't as 'authentic' as the other smaller Sichuan eateries we have dotted around town. Whewww. Silk Road serves a kinder version of the spices. In addition, we cleverly ordered noodles and non-spicy Peking duck as a back-up tummy-filler.

Said 'water-boiled' fish (水煮鱼).
The portions were pretty generous, except for the noodles which came as individual servings. Those sizes were sufficient for us. There was even a bowl of rice shared among three to soak up chilli oil. Hahaha.

S the expert said that the spicy fried chicken (辣子鸡丁) wasn't crispy enough. It wasn't bad, but not as spicy-flavorful as hoped. Her fascination with Sichuan cuisine is more to do with how the spices lend another dimension to the usual Chinese dishes. She loves chilli the way I do. But somehow, she could get over the metallic clang of numbing pepper; I can't.

S was most impressed by the restaurant's version of 'water-boiled' fish (水煮鱼) which uses cod instead of a freshwater species. This is my most feared Sichuan dish. Instead of being impressed as well, I was too busy feeling all sorts of other things on the tongue. Tongue curled when the dish arrived and the server had to scoop up extra floating bits of peppercorns and dried chillies. Wah lau, I'll never understand it. Why soak perfectly fresh fish in a bowl of oil?!! In this version, the cod fillets were beautiful in spite of being soaked. Not mushy and tasted beautiful. Loved the first hit of chillies, then it was all eeky. Man, the numbing peppercorn was metal on the tongue. Couldn't get past two pieces of fish.

Happy (early) Birthday, S! You're one of the smartest and strongest women I know. And you're still the only person I'll brave Sichuan peppercorns for, and have tears of joy streaming down my face! xo

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