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 水煮鱼 shui zhu yu, a classic Sichuanese dish in which sheets of poached fish swim in a broth of chilis and 花椒 huajiao (Sichuan peppercorn, also known as numbing pepper for the sensation it brings to your mouth when bitten).
shui zhu yu (via Baidu Baike)
Eight years 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 — 油条 youtiao, the deep-fried dough sticks served up with soy milk for breakfast; 生煎包 shengjian bao, 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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