Remember when I brought some Sichuan peppercorns into the office to try out on the rest of the Observer staff? I've been looking for fiery Sichuan cooking on and off ever since.
At the end of that blog post I mentioned Royal Sichuan, a small Chinese restaurant on Greenville Avenue in Richardson's China Town mall. I'd had ma pow tofu there and it had some kick, but nothing like the stuff I was used to from my favorite carryout back in D.C.
Recently though, I had some friends ask me if I wanted to join them back at Royal Sichuan, and I thought I'd give it another try. I think I found another dish with sufficient piquancy.
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It's called spicy fish with boiled oil sauce, and underneath that raft of toasted chilies there are huge hunks of white fish with big flakes, enough bean sprouts to start a garden, and a broth seasoned with so many Sichuan peppercorns the soup was like taking a Novocaine shot in the tongue and licking a 9-volt battery at the same time.
You're not supposed to eat the toasted red chilies. Our waitress came back to the table after presenting the bowl, announced "spicy," and then proceeded to remove a large portion of the chilies from the top of the soup. Still, some invariably ended up in our individual serving bowls as we hunted for flakes of fish fish with a ladle in the murky broth. They're tough, dry and smoky flavored with an intense heat.
The dish is delicious.