Hunan or Szechuan ?

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stevencarry
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2006/03/06 03:21:13 (permalink)

Hunan or Szechuan ?

I love spicy food and both these cooking styles have been great.
But no one not even Chinese who cook can give me a definitve answer as to the difference.
I prefer one in one place and...well you know.
Can you help define ?
#1

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    zataar
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    RE: Hunan or Szechuan ? 2006/03/06 11:23:04 (permalink)
    Hunan and Szechuan (or Sichuan) are neighboring provinces so there are going to be similarities. For a great overview of Sichuan cooking I recommend Fuschia Dunlop's Land of Plenty. It's a wonderful cookbook with good explanations and recipes of traditional and modern Sichuan food. I'm quite sure I've never had the real thing where I live in Missouri. Interestingly, there is a Chinese Restaurant in Plymouth, Minnesota called the Tea House that has a separate Sichuan menu, prepare by a Sichuan chef. The food is fabulous and nothing like items I've had labeled Sichuan at other Midwest Chinese places.
    #2
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    RE: Hunan or Szechuan ? 2006/03/06 13:52:20 (permalink)
    zataar,

    Is The Tea House in a smallish size mall on or near a street called Nathan Lane (that name always cracks up me and my Dad). We've stayed in an apartment complex near there on many of our Twin Cities business trips. I noticed this place last year and am wondering if we're talking about the same restaurant. If so, we'll check them out when we're in town this year.

    Buddy
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    zataar
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    RE: Hunan or Szechuan ? 2006/03/06 14:00:23 (permalink)
    Buddy, That's the one. It's on Nathan Lane. You have to ask for the sichuan menu, it's totally separate. The regular menu is standard Chinese fare, not all that special, at least to us. The sichuan menu was quite interesting.
    #4
    snoopy123
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    RE: Hunan or Szechuan ? 2006/03/06 17:21:08 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by zataar

    Buddy, That's the one. It's on Nathan Lane. You have to ask for the sichuan menu, it's totally separate. The regular menu is standard Chinese fare, not all that special, at least to us. The sichuan menu was quite interesting.


    Szechuan Style Cuisine http://www.chinatownconnection.com/szechaun_cuisine.htm
    Chinese Hunan Cuisine http://www.chinatownconnection.com/chinese_hunan_cuisine.htm

    Hope this helps!
    #5
    Benny
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    RE: Hunan or Szechuan ? 2006/03/29 23:20:20 (permalink)
    Personally, I prefer Hunan, but unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be too many options around here (Upstate New York) for authentic Hunan food. Hunan food, to me anyways, kind of sounds like the Indian-food-equivalent of China, where dishes are complex and take hours or overnight to properly prepare (as opposed to minutes, such as most Chinese stir-fry noodle dishes!) - and thus are not conducive to being authentically prepared by restaurants, and ESPECIALLY not take-outs :( What they all refer to as "hunan" is probably a loose approximation of what Hunan SHOULD be, at best.
    #6
    BT
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    RE: Hunan or Szechuan ? 2006/03/30 01:39:28 (permalink)
    Benny--If you find yourself in NYC, you might try Wu Liang Ye at 36 W 48th St. near Radio City. I had an excellent meal there. It is reputedly owned by the government of the People's Republic. I personally like noodle dishes and one of the courses of my meal was noodles with a wonderful and very spicey meat sauce on them (similar to Dan Dan noodles but better than any version of that dish I've ever had). But they are perhaps best known for their prawns in citrus sauce and other more complex fare.

    Also, I do tend to disagree with what you say above. Most Indian food is, in fact, fairly quickly and simply prepared. It doesn't take hours at all but minutes, maybe 1-2 hours at most (when using a meat that requires cooking that long to be tender). What makes it seem complex is the combination of spices but the most often used spices and even the most popular spice blends are readily available in India and even in Indian markets in large US cities. In India, as I strongly suspect in traditional Chinese kitchens, both cooking utensils and cooking fuel is limited. Most meals have to be cooked in a single pot (in China, the wok is said to have originated as a soldier's helmet which could be used in camp as a pot) and fairly quickly so as not to use much fuel. Typically, the spice mixture is sauteed in a little fat (such as clarified butter or ghee), the vegetables and/or meat is added along with some water and the mixture is cooked until done--period.
    #7
    Benny
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    RE: Hunan or Szechuan ? 2006/04/04 22:13:33 (permalink)
    BT, thank you for the heads up. I will definitely try Wu Liang Ye next time I'm in NYC! Incidentally, not sure what, exactly regionally they are, but Big Wong on Mott Street in Chinatown is definately personally highly recommended - especially their beef tendons over rice - very tender! - and so is The House of Vegetarian across the street, which does amazing things with vegetables, tofu, and soy protein - the yam mock "Iron Steak" and the soy protein "Orange Beef" are truly excellent.



    So, in your opinion, authentic Hunan food is even more complex and time-consuming to prepare than most Indian food? if so, VERY interesting!
    #8
    BT
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    RE: Hunan or Szechuan ? 2006/04/04 23:36:30 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Benny



    So, in your opinion, authentic Hunan food is even more complex and time-consuming to prepare than most Indian food? if so, VERY interesting!



    No, my point was that most Asian food, once you have accumulated the ingredients (which can be hard to find in the west), is really fairly simply prepared. That includes BOTH Hunan and Szechuan as well and most Indian food. Don't forget--Hunan and Szechuan are provinces. Their food is mostly peasant food. Same with most Indian food. Mostly it was intended to be cooked in a single pot over a small charcoal or other fire. There were some highly complex dishes cooked in the imperial court in Peking (or the courts of the maharajahs in India), but that isn't what we are talking about with Hunan and Szechuan. I think they taste complex because the flavor and spice combinations are unusual to our Western palates, but exotic isn't the same is complex or difficult.
    #9
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