Surprised to see the crawfish.
Wondering if it is actually Sichaun or a variation of the Boiling Crab Cajun/Garlic/Butter thing…sure looks different.
Surprised to see the crawfish.
Crayfish are not native to the western regions of China, as best I know. But then again, there is an ancient network of commerce…
evidently “sichuan crawfish” returns a ton of results via google images.
which leads me to the following term: “Mala Xiaolongxia”
And evidently yes, this dish is popular in Shanghai: http://travel.cnn.com/shanghai/eat/shanghai-xiaolongxia-season-here-dig-favorite-summer-seafood-116689/
No doubt about that, in 2016. But I was looking at it from a more historical point of view - Was this a TRADITIONAL dish in that western part of China? Crayfish have historically existed along the coastal areas in eastern China, but far to the west…?
one link explains it as this, with no citations:
In the 1930s, Louisiana red swamp crayfish was brought to Jiangsu province by the Japanese. While first the creatures were seen as exotic, they were not welcomed by the local people as they caused crop damage and brought no direct benefits to people of the community. However, the crayfish adapted to the local environment and populations began to flourish in the coastal environment. Eventually, the crayfish were made and popularized into a dish called xuyi shisanxiang longxia, or “Xuyi Thirteen Fragrance Little Lobster,” that brought major business to cities in the 1990s. The flavor was influenced by neighboring provinces like Anhui and Zhejiang which contributed to the spicy oil mixture the crayfish are cooked in. Now, crayfish are considered a local food as they are farmed in coastal area
The 1990’s thing seems to have credence as another link states
Despite their popularity here, crayfish - known as xiaolongxia (小龙虾), little dragon shrimp, in Chinese - do not have a long history in Chinese cuisine. It was only in the late 1990s that crayfish fever swept across the Chinese mainland. Crayfish are generally served with mala - hot and numbing - flavors. In Beijing and other northern parts, mala flavored crayfish (麻辣小龙虾) is shortened to maxiao (麻小) and is often enjoyed with beer in a hot mid-summer evening.
Further south, in places such as Anhui and Jiangsu provinces and Shanghai, people prefer the flavor of shisanxiang crayfish (十三香小龙虾), which means the sauce includes 13 different kinds of spices, such as aniseed, cumin, cinnamon and ginger, to enhance a multi-layered flavor and which tastes a little sweeter than maxiao.
maxiao 麻小- mala flavored crayfish
shisanxiang crayfish 十三香小龙虾 – thirteen spice crayfish
I recall hearing that when it is a poor season for bugs in Louisiana they import quite a bit of them from the Middle Kingdom. But as for a Sichuan prep - this is the first time I have heard of it. And some of the Yelp reviews reference a 13 spice recipe at Si Chuan No 1.
I will have to roll out there soon.
It is a “thing” in Sichuan. There are restaurants that specialize in the exact dish: