Beyond Málà: Sichuan's Ginger Juice Flavor With Fuchsia Dunlop
Today we continue with Fuchsia Dunlop in our exploration of some of the 23 canonical flavors of the Sichuan kitchen beyond málà (hot and numbing), and there may be none further from the realm of prickly Sichuan peppercorns and fiery chilies than "ginger juice" sauce.
Used on cold dishes, particularly vegetable ones like blanched green beans or spinach, this sauce has a light, bright quality that Fuchsia compares to a vinaigrette. The balanced combination of Chinkiang vinegar, finely minced ginger, and sesame oil enhances the clean and fresh flavor of the vegetables without weighing them down.
Ginger juice flavor is important on the Sichuan table as a whole, thanks to its ability to mollify the stronger, often intensely spicy and tingly flavors that characterize many of the region's classic dishes. It's an incredibly simple preparation, best mixed together shortly before serving, but Fuchsia's demonstration in the video above underscores just how essential good knife skills are to the sauce's success. Only by very evenly and finely mincing the ginger can you extract its full flavor and give it a texture that blends seamlessly with the sauce. The result is flecks of ginger that cling to the vegetables as you eat them.
This recipe and the others featured in this video series can be found in Fuchsia's new book The Food of Sichuan, which is itself an updated and revised edition of her classic Land of Plenty.