Exploring hot stuff at Meizhou Dongpo

By Dong Fangyu ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-01-10 07:30:02

Exploring hot stuff at Meizhou Dongpo

Different from other types of spiciness (or la in Chinese), Sichuan's style is often accompanied by a sense of ma, the numbing effect on your mouth produced by Sichuan peppercorn.

To explore the use of Sichuan's mala (numbing spicy) in different dishes, we dig into the menu of one of Beijing's best Sichuan restaurants, Meizhou Dongpo - which has more than 100 outlets in China.

"Mala is the tone of Sichuan-style spiciness; while sour-and-spicy is mostly found in Yunnan-style spiciness," says Zhu Zhiwei, top chef at the restaurant group.

Meizhou Dongpo employs three different spicy sauces to add tingle to dishes: chili bean sauce, dry chili powder and pickled pepper. The peppercorn at Meizhou Dongpo comes from Hanyuan, Sichuan, which boasts that it grows the best of its kind.

Chef Zhu says the use of chilies at Meizhou Dongpo is dish-specific and well-balanced.

"For the dish of DongPo Sea Cucumber, chili is just an extra element that should give way to the original flavor of the ingredients. Though chili-bean sauce is cooked in, it should not override the tender meat of sea cucumber," he says.

For spicy duck blood curd, however, since duck blood has no distinct flavor in itself, and can get a metallic smell if simmered for some time, a much spicier sauce is needed to offset its fishy smell, and to let the fiery spice be absorbed into the smooth texture of the blood curd.

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