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Sichuan Cuisine — the Most Popular Cuisine in China

Sichuan Cuisine

Sichuan Hotpot Sichuan Hotpot is typical Chuan cuisine.

Chuan Cuisine, originating from Sichuan Province in southwestern China, is the most widely served cuisine in China. The dishes of Chuan Cuisine are famous for their hot-spicy taste and the flavor of Sichuan pepper that are rare in other regional cuisines.

Flavors of Chuan Cuisine — hot and spicy

A variety of seasonings are used in Chuan Cuisine, and each dish can be cooked differently. Therefore Chuan Cuisine enjoys a reputation for variety. As the saying goes it's 'one dish with one flavor and one hundred dishes with one hundred flavors'.

The most common flavors of Chuan Cuisine are hot and spicy, “the five fragrances” (Fennel, pepper, aniseed, cinnamon, and clove), other mixed spices, chili and Sichuan pepper (made with prickly ash), and sweet and sour.

Seasonings of Chuan Cuisine

Dry Red ChilisDry red chili peppers is one of the most common Sichuan Cuisine seasonings.

Some of the most common seasonings that contribute to the hot and spicy flavor include Sichuan pepper, black pepper, chili, broad bean chili paste, shallots, ginger, and garlic.

The ingredients used range widely, including poultry, pork, beef, fish, vegetables, and tofu.

Cooking Methods

The methods of cooking Chuan Cuisine vary according to the texture required, including stir frying, steaming and braising, baking, and the most widely used method — fast-frying. Chuan Cuisine has good combinations of flavors and often has thick gravy.

The Most Famous Sichuan Dishes

mapo tofuMapo tofu

Chuan Cuisine mainly features pungent, hot, and fragrant home-grown dishes. The most typical Chuan dishes are mapo tofu, kungpao chicken, fuqi fei pian, and hotpot.

'Pockmarked Granny' Bean Curd (Mapo Tofu)

Mapo (/maa-por/) tofu is bean curd served in a chili-and-bean-based sauce, which is usually a thin, oily, and bright red suspension, and often topped with minced meat, usually pork or beef. Seasonings include water chestnuts, onions, other vegetables, or wood ear fungus. The taste of mapo tofu is fittingly described as numbing, spicy-hot, fresh, tender and soft, aromatic and flaky. Mapo tofu is easy to find outside of China. Learn how to cook Mapo Bean Curd.

Spicy Diced Chicken (Kung Pao Chicken)

Kung Pao ChickenKung pao chicken

Kung Pao chicken is from the Wade-Giles Romanization, but the Chinese name is 'Palace Defender chicken cubes' (宫保鸡丁 Gōng Bǎo jīdīng /gong-baow jee-ding/).

It is cooked by frying diced chicken, dry red pepper and golden peanuts. Spicy diced chicken is more popular among Westerners than mapo tofu, and is usually less spicy, or not at all spicy, when served abroad, or far from Sichuan. Learn how to cook Kung Pao Chicken.

Fuqi Fei Pian ('Husband and Wife Lung Slices')

Fuqi Fei Pian is made of thinly sliced beef, or bovine lung or tongue seasoned with chili oil. There is a romantic story of the origin of this famous Sichuan dish. Guo Zhaohua (the inventor) and his wife sold their vinegar-ized beef slices by trundling a small cart along the street. Their beef slices were very delicious, and no one could resist the charming smell in that street. People liked the food made by this couple very much, so they gave it the name Husband and Wife Lung Slices in honor of the couple.

Sichuan Hot Pot

Sichuan Hot Pot, like most of the cuisine in that humid and populous province, is very spicy. The broth is flavored with chili peppers and other pungent herbs and spices. The main ingredients include hot pepper, Chinese crystal sugar and wine. Slices of kidney, chicken breast, beef tripe, goose intestines, spring onion, soy bean sprouts, mushrooms, duck, and sea cucumber are the usual meats used in the dish. Learn more about Hot Pot.

Best Places to Eat Authentic Chuan Cuisine in Sichuan and Chongqing

Chen MapoChen Mapo Restaurant in Chengdu

Chuan Cuisine is famous in China and abroad, and served at every corner of the world. However, the most authentic Sichuan food is still to be found at its hometowns: Chengdu and Chongqing.

Chen Mapo

Chinese name: 陈麻婆川菜馆

Address: 8-10 Qinghua Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu青羊区青华路8-10号

Huang Cheng Lao Ma

Chinese name: 皇城老妈

Address: 20 Qintai Rd, Qingyang District, Chengdu, 成都青羊区琴台路20号

Waipoqiao Hotpot Restaurant

Chinese name: 外婆桥酒菜作坊

Address: 7F, Daduhui Square, 68 Zourong Lu, Yuzhong District, Chongqing, 重庆市渝中区邹容路68号大都会广场7楼

Sichuan Dishes Menu





Sichuan Hotpot

Sìchuān huǒguō

srr-chwan hwor-gwor


Husband and Wife Lung Slices (slices of beef and offal seasoned with chili oil)

fūqī fèi piàn

foo-chee fay pyen


Water Boiled Beef

shuǐ zhǔ niúròu

shway joo nyoh-roh


Fish Flavored Beef Shreds

yú xiāng niúròu sī

yoo sshyang nyoh-roh srr


Fried Bean Curd and Beef with Cayenne Pepper (very spicy)

málà tàng

maa-laa tung


Boiled Mutton

fèiténg yángròu

fay-tnng yang-roh


Twice Cooked Pork

huí guō ròu

hway gwor roh


Steamed Pork with Spicy Cabbage

dōngcài kòuròu

dong-tseye koh-roh


Kung Pao Chicken (diced chicken fried With peanuts/cashews)

gōngbǎo jī dīng

gong-baoww jee ding


Chongqing Spicy Deep-Fried Chicken

Chóngqìng làzǐ jī

chong-ching laa-zrr jee


Sesame Oil Chicken

máyóu jī

maa-yoh jee


Duck Hotpot (the hotpot is divided into two parts: one spicy, one plain)

yuānyāng huǒguō

ywen-yang hwor-gwor


Boiled Fish with Pickled Chinese Cabbage

suāncài yú

swann-tseye yoo


Dongpo Cuttlefish

dōngpō mòyú

dong-por mor-yoo


Stir-Fried Bean Curd in Chili Sauce

mápó dòufu

maa-por doh-foo


Travel with China Highlights and Taste Authentic Chuan Cuisine

China Highlights customers diningOur customers are enjoying their dinner with our colleague Kim at a restaurant in Guilin.

If you want to try authentic Chuan Cuisine, our tours can take you to authentic local restaurants. Our Chengdu tours combine must-see attractions in Chengdu with meals in carefully selected restaurants.

Recommended Chinese food tour:

Or you can contact us and we can also tailor-make a Chinese food tour for you. Just tell us your interests and requirements.

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