I Stheeme Thoo Have Gone A Bith Numb

Sunday 7/8/2005

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Diary and Notes

People who know about these things (friends of mine who have been there) claim that true Szechuan food is possibly the spiciest on the planet. I have heard horror stories about dishes coming to the table which at first appeared to be nothing but a giant plate of spicy red peppers in an even spicier broth and it was only when you'd eaten half way down that you realised there were a few little morsels of fish underneath as well. Szechuan food is famously spicy, and I think I know exactly how the people there manage to eat such hot food - and it's all down to the secret ingredient szechuan pepper.

If you want to see what I mean, put a szechuan peppercorn in your mouth and chew it. At first it tastes quite nice, slightly sharp, a little peppery but not hot or overpowering. About a minute later the sharp sensation grows to acrid and then you notice a strange and altogether unpleasant sensation, your mouth will go completely numb.

And it's not a good numb either, no 'comfortably numb' more 'I seem to have damaged my tastebuds' sort of numb.

Cooking with these little beasties is different from eating them on their own of course and they are a fantastic ingredient, but I think this is how the people in Szechuan province manage to eat such spicy hot food, add a teaspoon of these crushed up into a dish and half way through the anaesthetic effects begin and you can easily chomp through raw chillis without any fear.

I reckon if you had a good mouthful of these you could easily sneak your way through to the finals of the world chilli eating contest even if you were normally not a hot food addict.

So if you are going to be cooking some Szechaun food, make sure you include some Szechuan peppercorns (not too many) and lots of chillis as well. It's a great combination and although I wouldn't recommend it as a daily event it's well worth a go.


If you haven't guessed it I had some Szechaun food today. If I cook Chinese food I normally like to make a few dishes to give a bit of variety - but today I was on my own so only made two things - still it was a very nice dinner. Twice cooked pork is one of the classics of Chinese cuisine. The first simmering dissolves out the fat from the meat so even quite fatty cuts like shoulder tend to be more meaty and flavoursome. Well worth the extra cooking step - and don't forget those Szechuan peppercorns.

Cake Blog

Creme Brulee: I didn't make this. I can't remember the make but it was excellent - even had a little sachet of sugar for browning to make a crusty top.


  • Twice Cooked pork
  • Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage


    Twice Cooked Pork
    200g Pork Shoulder
    1 cm Ginger
    1 Tbsp Sherry
    1 Tbsp Peanut Oil
    1/2 Clove Garlic
    3 Green Chillis
    1/2 Red Pepper
    1/2 Green Pepper
    1/2 Courgette
    3 Leaves Chinese Cabbage
    1 Spring Onion
    1 tsp Szechuan Peppercorns
    1 Tbsp Salted Black Beans (or Paste)
    1 Tbsp Hoi Sin Sauce
    2 tsp Soy Sauce
    1 Tbsp Chicken Stock
    1/2 tsp Cornflour
    Fred Rice with Chinese Sausage
    150 Rice
    1 Tsbp Peanut Oil
    1/2 Clove Garlic
    Little Minced Ginger
    1 Chinese Sausage
    25g Peas
    1 Egg
    2 Spring Onions
    White Pepper
    Soy Sauce
    Drizzle Sesame Oil


  • Slice the ginger - saving two thin slices (one for the rice below and opne for stir frying the pork), the rest put in a pan with the pork (not chopped up in one large piece) and the sherry. Cover with water and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the pork and allow to cool in the fridge. When thoroughly cool cut into chunks about 1cm cubed. Grind the black beans and szechuan peppercorns then add the hoi sin. heat some peanut oil in a wok and add a little minced ginger, some minced garlic and some chopped chillis. Ance sizzling add the pork. When the pork begins to brown add the chopped vegetables. Stir fry using a little chicken stock to prevent burning. Once cooked stir in the sauce. When finished stir in a little cornflour solution to give the dish a sheen.
  • Cook the rice, rinse and allow to cool. Fry a little garlic and ginger in a wok and then add a beaten egg. Mix in the rice, peas, finely sliced sausage. Season with soy sauce and white pepper and drizzle a little sesame oil before serving.


    *All quantities are very approximate and for a single person