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Food & Drink / What to eat

Top 10 must-try Sichuan dishes

By Discover China

May 5

Find out which dishes can’t be missed while trying authentic Sichuan cuisine.

Find out which dishes can’t be missed while trying authentic Sichuan cuisine.

Chinese food encompasses several cuisines that vary region to region.  Sichuan’s food, known to combine color, aroma, and taste especially well, is very popular among Chinese people and others from around the world. Let’s find out which dishes can’t be missed while trying authentic Sichuan cuisine.

1. Sichuan Hot Pot 麻辣火锅

Derived from local folk culture, Sichuan Hot Pot is the mostly widely accepted Sichuanese dish. Known for its spicy taste and fragrant smell, one can choose what vegetables or meat to  add based on preference, allowing a great variety of choices. Additionally, hotpot is quick and convenient.

Tasting Guide: Sichuan Hot Pot can be found all over China, but it is highly suggested to have it in Chongqing or Chengdu.

2. Poached Fish in Chili Oil  水煮鱼

Among its three main ingredients–fish, chili pepper, and bean sprout, chilies are the most important part of the dish, whose color impacts people greatly.  Dipped in chili and red oil, the fish has a smooth taste and tender texture.

Tasting Guide: Many authentic restaurants let guests pick their own type of fish to cook. Choose the grass carp —  it tastes very fresh and has high nutrition value.

3. Twice Cooked Pork Slices 回锅肉

The traditional pork dish originates in the rural area of Sichuan. It is known for its shiny red color, rich but not greasy taste, and the strong aroma it gives. Twice Cooked Pork Slices is known as the top Sichuan dish among locals.

Tasting Guide: It tastes best with rice.

4. Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐

Originating  from the reign of Tongzhi of the Qing Dynasty, Mapo Tofu’s main ingredients include tofu, minced meat, chilies, and Chinese red pepper. Its appearance is bright red, with some white and greenish color. The tofu is soft and tasty. The whole dish provides a strong Sichuan-style tongue-numbing spiciness.

5. Fish-flavored Shredded Pork 鱼香肉丝

This dish gets its name from the fish-flavored seasoning, which is not actually made from real fish, but from chilies, shallot, ginger, onion, sugar, salt and other seasonings. Despite a relatively short history it is  widely popular..

Tasting guide: This dish is a combination of salty, sweet, sour and spicy.

6. Sliced Meat in Chili Oil  水煮肉片

Originating from Zigong, Sichuan, sliced meat in chili oil is one famous dishes of Sichuan. The meat is aromatic and spicy, soft and tender, and tastes best with rice. The cooking method is similar to poached fish in chili oil, with pork instead.

Tasting Guide: This dish can be prepared using beef and pork, while cooking with pork may taste better.

7. Spicy Chicken, Sichuan Style 辣子鸡

As a famous Han-ethnic dish in Sichuan, spicy chicken is prepared by stir-frying fresh chicken breast with chilies. It shares some similarities with fried chicken, but has a stronger, spicy taste.

Tasting Guide: Spicy Chicken is originates from Gele Mountain, so try it there if you can.

8. Boiled Fish with Pickled Cabbage and Chili 酸菜鱼

A classic Sichuanese dish from Chongqing. Compared to the others introduced above, this one is not so spicy but has a fresher, sour more taste.

Tasting Guide: Fish with pickled vegetables has high nutrition value.

9. Kung Pao Chicken 宫保鸡丁

As the most famous Chinese dish  abroad, Kung Pao Chicken’s main ingredient is chicken, with peanuts, cucumber, chilies and other elements completing the dish.

Tasting guide: This dish can be found in a lot of restaurants around China and the world, but it is best to try the real thing in Sichuan.

10. Bubbling Blood 毛血旺

This dish originated in Chongqing in the 1940s. According to the local dialect, “Mao” means being wild and careless, reflecting the character of the dish’s main ingredients, which are dried cubes of chicken and duck blood tripe. A thick layer of red oil adds taste and keeps the dish warm while triggering people’s appetite.

Tasting guide: Eat the meat first then the vegetables to reduce the spicy shock.

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