Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sichuan Spices Excursion Part 1 of 2 - New Zealand Marborough County Sauvigon Blanc


I am very excited to launch my food and wine blogs, Chinese Food and Wine Pairings in January 2012.  The objectives of my blog are as follows:  

1. providing tips on pairing different types of Chinese food with wines that you can get in the US; 
2. highlighting the cooking techniques of unique dishes and explaining why certain wines can enhance the tasting experience; and
3. demonstrating how to cook Chinese dishes at home, pairing different wines with them, and achieving different tasting experience.
To have an exciting kick-off, I have recently visited the culinary capital of the orient, Hong Kong in February to discover authentic and sophisticated Chinese food!  More importantly, I found the perfect wine for you to enjoy while tasting these types of Chinese cuisines.  
Sichuan Spices Excursion
Sichuan Chinese food is fond of by a lot of Americans who love spicy food. What I had in an authentic Sichuan restaurant in the trendy Hong Kong neighborhood, Tsim Sha Shui is not the Americanized Sichuan cuisine, but something along the line of 4.5 chili icons out of 5 type of food (real deal!).   First we started out with pickled sweet sour cherry tomato which is not spicy.  In order to have the sweet sour flavor perfectly immersed into the cherry tomato, the skin was removed.  This appetizer not only appetites but cleanses your palate.
OK, the next dish looks like hanging your wet laundry in a dry Autumn day at your backyard.  The dish is called "Yun Nan Bai Rou", translated as paper-thin pork belly and cucumber slices.  The major technique of this dish is to cut the boiled pork belly and cucumber so thin that they can see through it under the light and easily hang them on the rack.  The meat and cucumber has very mild salty taste to them.  You need to dip the combo, 1 slice of pork belly and 1 slice of cucumber in the finely minced fresh garlic, light soya sauce and black Chinese vinegar dipping sauce, and eat the 2 slices together.  
Don't be fooled by the simple name of this dish, "Shui Zhu Yu", translated as Sichuan boiled fish.  Although a little boiled water is used to cook the fish in this chili broth, the "red sea" kind of tells you what the main ingredients of this dish are: fresh red chili, dried red chili, peppercorns, chili oil. Sichuan bean paste.  Keep in mind, this dish really is pushing to suicidal heat -- there are two levels of spiciness sensations, "Ma La", the first word means numbing your tongue and the second word means spiciness.  Contrary to popular belief, drinking cold water is not as effective as drinking warm Chinese tea to tamp the spices.  
There are more dishes for this Sichuan food excursion to come.  But for Part I above, I would like to pair all this food with a bottle of 2011 New Zealand Marborough County Sauvigon Blanc, such as Kim Crawford's.   

  • The passion fruit citrus and ripe stonefruit of this wine pampers your palate after your "battle" with the fire in your mouth.
  • For a bottle that is retailed at a bit under $15, it is a well-balanced, refreshing and pleasant white wine that can be drunken with the spicy cuisine or alone.
This is all I have for today.  Look out for the PART II - Sichuan Spices Excursion.

Remember, life is too short not to drink wine with Chinese food!

Pinny Tam 

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