Mr. Selfish and I held a belief that we could handle spicy food. Yes, I deliberately used the past tense in that last sentence. After experiencing the Sichuan (aka Szechuan) food, I seriously doubt our ability to handle spicy food.
Sichuan food originates from the southwest of China. It is known for its bold and spicy flavor due to the liberal use of garlic, chili peppers, and the Sichuan peppercorn. This peppercorn is unlike any other peppercorn I’ve ever encountered. In fact, it is not traditionally spicy but actually causes a numbness in your mouth that sets the stage for the other hot spices used.
We decided to try Sichuan hot pot at Shujiuxiang Hot Pot Restaurant. There was a long line out front so we figured it would be good. The queue was based on a number system. Luckily, the staff figured out that we didn’t speak Chinese and tracked us down when our number was up. At that point, we didn’t know how we were going to order since nothing was in English. The staff found a huge menu with lots of photos, and we just pointed to what we wanted. We chose the spicy red hot pot and then randomly pointed at meats and veggies to cook in it.
The hot pot is made of metal with a metal separator. Chili oil, chili peppers, and Sichuan peppercorns are heated until they come to a slow boil.