International Incident Party: Sichuan cuisine

This month’s International Incident Party is not the joyous occasion it generally is.  Our lovely hostess, Penny, lost her dad recently and is in Singapore helping out her mum so she won’t be participating this month. The rest of us, however, decided to go ahead and dedicate our dishes, with a “Sichuan” theme to the memory of Penny’s dad.

When you Google “Sichuan cuisine” you get approximately 754 000 results.  It’s known for its strong flavours and liberal use of garlic and spicy chilies and one of the most representative dishes is Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁/宮保雞丁 (gōngbǎo jīdīng).  Now, since I am in Paris right now with no access to my fabulous cookbooks, I had to rely on the internet for my recipe which can sometimes be a little overwhelming.  So I turned to a favourite site of mine, Rasa Malaysia – Easy Asian Cuisine where I found just the recipe I needed for Kung Pao Chicken.

Bee’s recipes really do make Asian cooking do-able and I was able to find most of the ingredients at the legendary Tang Frères in Paris’ 13th arrondissement, close to where I used to live briefly when I first arrived over 16 years ago…  I chose the wettest day ever to visit…  No photos of colourful Paris Chinatown because I had my head down…

It was, in fact, raining so much that I had to duck into a restaurant to dry off.  Quite by chance, I ended up at the restaurant where I dined out for the first time when I moved to Paris. It’s a good sign that it’s still here and was full of people at 11.30am!

Hawai Restaurant (87 Avenue D’Ivry Paris, Paris 75013, Métro: Porte d’Ivry)) I had a steaming bowl of Pho and dried off, ready to tackle Tang Frères for some challenging ingredients.

(No photos in Tang Frères – I have already learned my lesson once.)

First up, something I have not been able to find anywhere – scallions/ spring onions…

Oh I mean, I have found slightly older onions…

but never the scallions until I got to Tang Frères

Next up, Bee’s recipe called for Shaoxing wine which I found out is a rice wine for cooking.  Since I didn’t want to buy a ginormous bottle of rice wine, I found a pretty good substitute…

Not only does it have an awesome label but it tells you it is “for gourmet cooking only, not for beverage.”  Also, in case you don’t know what it’s for, it tells you this: USAGE: (1) To deodorize stench of fish and meat, make cooked food more delicious and (2) to wash frozen meat.

Well, I don’t know about that but I do know that it is a rice wine that would absolutely “do” for this recipe!  What was difficult was not having a printed out recipe. I am so old school!  I had to have my phone in the kitchen. Luckily it’s small…

(chicken marinading)

… because look at the gigantic mess:

But it all worked out in the end.  I invited my new Paris friend Lindsey of Lost in Cheeseland over to help me test it and she gave it two thumbs up.  We can also suggest that it goes well with un petit rosé (I mean, really, what doesn’t?).  I stayed true to Bee’s recipe, except I added some shredded basil and some thinly sliced blanched snow peas right at the end for some colour and texture. A winner. I will definitely be making this again!

Don’t forget to check out what everyone else brought to the party by clicking the links below:  I think Penny’s dad would have loved this party!

Keep up with me this summer in London, Paris, Alsace and Burgundy through my Summer 2011 Flickr set.

46 thoughts on “International Incident Party: Sichuan cuisine”

  1. Mardi, your Kung Pao Chicken brought back memories! So happy that you made the effort (and even invited a friend) to produce a delicious Sichuan for the party. I nearly made this, but decided to cook ants instead!

  2. Was thrilled to be the one to get to test the recipe! It was bursting with flavor, really really delicious. Bravo, Mardi!! And lovely shot of the dish! Mine didn’t come out quite so nicely :-/

  3. Oh just lovely!!!

    The images are mouthwatering!

    I will be trying this dish too, I actually noticed this on Bee site as well 🙂
    Good on you for searching Paris for all the ingredients, even in the rain I would love to be back there now.

    I need a printed recipe too, maybe we are both a similar vintage?

    Good on y

  4. I’m sorry I missed this dish!

    Good suggestion from Lindsey…just tell me you didn’t use a glorious Tavel! 😉

  5. Gosh – this looks a real treat. Love Chinatown – while since I’ve been but had not idea about photos at Frères Tang. Glad the horrid wet weather was good for trying out the restaurant 🙂

  6. Two thumbs up for your Kung Pao Chicken (more if I had more thumbs). Excellent! I like the basil and snow peas topping. That would have added a fresh twist on the dish.

  7. Beautiful dish, Mardi! I haven’t attempted kung pao chicken in my kitchen yet, but I think I’ll have to give this a whirl.

    Oh… and one more thing. You call that a mess? I wish my kitchen messes looked that clean!

  8. Hello, lovely – better late than never, right? I love that you picked such a classic Sichuan dish, and one of my favorites. I can tell from the color that you nailed it. You really can’t go wrong with Rasa Malaysia! I love your rainy shots of Paris.

  9. The dish looks amazing! I’m always stunned at what you can make in your smaller kitchen. While I don’t know Penny – I know how difficult it is to lose a parent – my thoughts are with her…

  10. Beautiful photos and a delicious looking recipe! Tang Frères is a mecca for all Asian products, but if you don’t feel like going to the 13e, there’s another good Asian market right next to Maubert-Mutalité. Have you ever tried Sichuan peppercorn? It creates a tingling, numbing sensation that contrasts with the burn of chilies — guaranteed to raise your endorphins 🙂

  11. I’m so sorry to read of the loss of Penny’s Dad. My sincere condolences to her and her family. This dish and post is a lovely tribute to him.

  12. Pingback: Round up - International Sichuan Incident Party | Addictive and consuming - A Melbourne food blog

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