A bit of a long-scroll, but we highly recommend a comic just published by foodie website Eater: “In Search of Water-Boiled Fish.”
The epic animation details the quest of Burbank-based illustrator, animator and game developer Angie Wang to recapture the singular vibe of eating an authentic bowl of shui zhu yu, (水煮鱼), a classic Sichuanese dish in which sheets of poached fish swim in a broth of chilis and numbing Sichuan peppercorn (花椒 huajiao).
shui zhu yu (via Baidu Baike)
Eight years have passed between Wang’s 2010 shui zhu yu experience in Beijing and her ultimate rediscovery of a “close enough” version nearer to home at LA restaurant Chengdu Taste. Along the way she detours to other classic China snacks — youtiao (油条 ), the deep-fried dough sticks served up with soy milk for breakfast; shengjian bao (生煎包), a crispy-bottomed bread dumpling common in Shanghai and Suzhou — but the one that sticks with her and drives her delightful narrative is shui zhu yu, a staple that has Wang waxing poetic:
Slices of fish — white as snow, soft as custard — float in a light, clear oil… I can see all the way to the bottom of the bowl, to the bed of bean sprouts underneath.
Dive in here.
Cover image: Eater
You might also like:
Jenny Gao, “Ambassador of Sichuan Food Culture”
Holidays, History, and Dumplings with a Hui Muslim Family
6 Chinese Foods You Won’t Find in China
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