Shuizhuyu is a Sichuan dish, with a name with literal meaning of “water-cooked fish“. It’s actually cooked mostly in boiling chilli oil. Fish slices (usually grass carp), a large amount of chilli pepper and special Sichuan bean sauce, vegetables (bean sprouts and napa cabbage) and a lot of chilli oil is required. Other meats, like pork and beef, can also be substituted for fish (although the name changes as a result, of course).
Why is it famous?
The dish is popular because the fish is flaky and tender, but burns the palate with the prickle of the Sichuan peppercorn. Traditionally, it is served during the Lunar New Year. That’s because the Chinese pinyin for “fish” is “yu“, which sounds a lot like the character for “plenty left over”. The phrase “Nian Nian You Yu,” which is usually said around Lunar New Year, means you will have plenty of fortune and money left over for the whole year.
Best place for Shuizhuyu…
Hidden in an alleyway just north of the Bright Chang’an Building, Chuan Ban is always packed. The restaurant, next door to Sichuan’s provincial office in Beijing, is deemed to serve the best Sichuanese food in the city. Gongyuan Tou Tiao 5, Jianguomennei Dajie, Dongcheng district, Beijing (Tel: +8610 65122277 ext. 6101). Another good choice is Yi Restaurant, Shuiduizi Dong Li, 22 Chaoyang Bei Lu, Chaoyang district, Beijing (Tel: +8610 8596-8995).
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