A massive producer
Few people are aware that China produces more than 50 % of the world's green Chillies. When considering that they export only 3 % of their crop, this means that a whole lot Chillies are consumed in the country. While many consider Sichuan province as the spice capital of China, according to an article by Chillicult, Hunan province is actually the title owner.
This section will explore the use of Chillies in Chinese cooking in all the regions where it is used.
Recipes for Chinese cooking
Chillies in Chinese Cuisine
History of Chillies in China
While it is not entirely clear how Chillies first arrived in China, one thing is certain today. China grows and eats more Chillies than any other nation in the world. Indeed, in 2016 China grew about half the green Chillies produced in the world. This was over fifteen million tonnes. That's a whole lot of capsicum
Chillies are a key feature of Chinese cuisine, but this has not always been the case. It is speculated that the Chillies arrived in China either by way of Chinese merchants who travelled worldwide. Another theory is that they were brought into the country by farmers who were introduced to them by their neighbours in North Korea. The time frame for this would have the late 15th century. Prior to this, Chillies were not known in Chinese cuisine, and the only source of pungency would have been Sichuan peppercorns and ginger.
The earliest mention of Chillies in historical sources is in 1591 in Hangzhou. However, as other products from the Columbian exchange arrived 20 to thirty years earlier, it is quite possible they came before then. The first written record of Chillies being used for flavouring food is in 1621, but they are not included in recipe collections until 1790. Since then, Chinese cooking with Chillies grown exponentially,
How Chillies are used in China
Chillies are used in many types of dishes in China, but certain regions use more than others. The Sichuan Province's cuisine is known to be numbingly hot with the liberal use of Chillies, Sichuan peppercorns and garlic. Sichuan peppercorns are not the same as the black peppercorns (piper nigrum ) that are commonly used in cooking . In fact, they are not a pepper at all, but rather a common name for two species of berries coming from two different sources. One source is the prickly ash shrub ( Z. simulans) - native to China and Taiwan, and the other (Z. bungeanum) from a close relative native to Thailand, Indonesia and the Himalayas,
Their taste is described as bitter with the smell of lavender, followed by a numbing sensation to the mouth and a citrus after-taste
Hunan's province's cuisine is similar to Sichuan, but even more piquant . Another area in China known for its great usage of Chillies is Chongqing.