Szechuan Cooking

18 Oct

This could also be titled “experimenting to bring Szechuan into my kitchen (and get it off my credit card).”

My husband and I are spicy food nuts.  I mean we like things HOT (sweat pouring off your face, nose running hot). This also means almost all of our favorite foods are ethnic (Chinese (especially Szechuan), Indian, New Mexican (if you don’t know what this is, I will soon teach you), Mexican, Thai, etc) and that we enjoy haunting the most authentic joints in our neighborhood.

We have several favorite places in the Cambridge area which you can check out here.

Here is a recent Szechuan meal made using CSA veggies and local caught fish:

Spicy Stir Fried Okra (you can also substitute green beans for my favorite dish – Dry fried string beans)

Szechuan Fish Fillets in Chili Sauce

Stir Fried Okra

Be careful of the hot peppers!

Spicy Stir Fried Okra


Canola or vegetable oil (both of these oils can get very hot before burning)

1 lb sliced okra (or green beans)

2-3 hot long hot peppers, de-seeded and sliced (I used whatever variety they had in my CSA – you can use whatever but be careful! Some are very hot – I had some jalapeños last week that burned my eyes while cooking!)

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 inch ginger, peeled and grated

1 tsp (or more) chili garlic paste (I use an Indonesian sauce called Sambal Oleek)

sweet soy sauce to taste (about 1 tbsp)

soy sauce to taste (about 1 tbsp)

rice vinegar to taste (about 1 tbsp)


Heat a wok or large non-stick pan with canola or vegetable oil.  Add okra (or grean beans) and chili peppers.  Cook, stirring frequently, until veggies are golden and start to blister in places.  BEWARE: if you have super hot peppers, you may want to add them later as the fumes can be quite painful!  Set veggies aside and wipe out pan.

Reheat pan with more oil.  Add garlic, ginger, and chili paste.  Cook until fragrant and slightly golden (30 seconds to 1 minute).  Add vegetables back in.  Stir in sweet soy sauce and regular soy sauce.  Deglaze pan with rice vinegar.  Serve steaming hot with rice.

Fish StewSzechuan Fish Fillets in Chili Sauce/Szechuan Spicy Fish Stew


1 egg white

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons rice wine 
(or gin)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 pound white firm flesh fish fillet (hake, barrimundi, tilapia, or flounder would work)

2 tablespoons canola

1 tablespoon Szechuan hot bean sauce

One 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 scallion, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns

1/4 cup Szechuan dried red chili peppers

1 tablespoon rice wine (or gin)

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 cups vegetable stock

1 cup veggies (Napa cabbage, bok choy)


Cut fish into 2″ pieces. Mix egg white, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons rice wine 
(or gin) and 1 tablespoon cornstarch together and toss well with fish fillet. Set aside to marinade for 20 minutes.
Heat oil in a large pot. Add hot bean sauce and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ginger, garlic, scallions, Szechuan peppercorns, and dried chili peppers. Cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn the peppercorns or chili peppers. Add rice wine and soy sauce and stir another minute. Add stock and bring to a boil.

Place veggies in the bottom of cast iron or clay casserole. Lay marinated fish on top. Pour soup on top of fish. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until fish is cooked through.  Serve over steamed rice and enjoy!


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