Saturday, September 26, 2009

There's a party in my mouth

and all spicy foods are invited :)

Tonight's celebratory/we were craving Szechuan food dinner was at Great Wall Szechuan House in Logan Circle. It's a total
hole in the wall, no frills establishment that serves up some excellent Szechuan dishes. A friend of ours introduced us to the place and we keep coming back for more.
The key thing to remember about this place is you must head straight to the back page of the menu to the
"Ma-la" dishes, as the rest of the menu is okay with no real stand-outs. Be forewarned though, ma-la dishes are not for those with weak stomachs or those not into spicy foods!
Ma-la sauce
is an oily, spicy sauce from Sichuan province and is made with Sichuan peppercorns.
Sichuan pepper has a pretty
distinct and unique flavor - I find it to have a very floral taste, but it is described as having lemony overtones (flower, lemon...all the same in my book haha). They are also known for the numbing and tingling sensation they give your mouth after a few bites. More importantly (yes, more so than the fun feeling and spiciness), Sichuan peppercorns add another dimension of flavor to dishes - not just heat.

We went with our usual dishes and ate
family style (there were 3 of us splitting these with some leftovers for tomorrow) - Ma la Ma Po Tofu w/meat*
*forgot camera so here are some from Yelp

Ma Po Tofu is one of my
favorite dishes because it combines silky tofu with bits of ground meat (usually pork, but I use turkey at home) in a spicy, savory sauce. The ma la version at Great Wall is tough to beat - there's just no turning back after you've had it with the Sichuan pepper!

Double Cooked Pork
One of our trusty dishes - sliced, pan-fried pork belly (or you can call it slab bacon) sauteed with black bean sauce, scallions and ma la sauce. It's not as numbing as the other dishes, so it's a good 'chaser' to have on the table ;) Also good when eaten with the Ma Po Tofu.

And a new dish we decided to try - Boiled Beef with Vegetables
The beef was ok, I'm not into the soft texture that happens when you boil it and the vegetables were just baby corn, broccoli and snow peas. Nothing too exciting.

A couple other dishes we've had that are worth trying:
  • Ma La Eggplant in Szechuan Garlic Sauce (beware - eggplant is super hot in temperature and that makes it seem so much spicier!)
  • Ma La Cold Noodle/Ma La Wonton (can't go wrong with either of these appetizers)
  • String Bean Szechuan Style (one of the non-ma la dishes we enjoy)
Reasonably priced, fast and delicious - Great Wall is a must taste!

Dinner last night wasn't so much of a mouth party, but it was yummy. Chef Jamie experimented with a recipe from our How to Cook Everything calendar - Linguine with Slow-Cooked Onions
I walked into our building last night after work and within a minute (we live on the lobby level), I smelled the distinct odor of cooking onions. The smell grew stronger as I kept walking and I knew it was coming from our apartment. We flagged this recipe earlier in the week and Jamie decided to tackle the onions on his own while I was at work. The 2lb bag of onions. The whole thing. Yes, it still smells like onion today!

I liked the sweetness of the onion, but I thought it could use something else - anchovies (yes, again with the anchovies!) or mushrooms or something salty...basically something to cut the richness of the olive oil and sweetness of the onions.

On the side, some salad because sometimes you need green! Does anyone else feel like their meal is incomplete if there's nothing green in it??
And one or two of these - perhaps the reason why I was so sleepy this morning? ;)
Ahh, good food weekend so far! How have your eats been?

I'm off to AGAIN tomorrow. I've calculated that between both jobs, I've worked 55 hours this week. Plus, switching last Saturday's 19 mile run to Sunday, I've run 39 miles this week and 2 hours of bootcamp. Too much stuff? I'm beginning to think yes. I want to curl up and do NOTHING!! *big big sigh*


Julia said...

Hi, I just found your blog through another blogroll. That asian food looks delicious!

Quinn said...

Yikes, that is a serious week! Try to relax a bit today if you can!

Jamie said...

those bok choys in the picture look good. next time we should get some to incorporate a veggie not floating in ma la sauce

MarathonVal said...

I swear, something about that Sunday run!!! Even though I had a good run, I think having a busy Saturday, then getting up early Sunday, running 20 miles, having a busy workweek with no real break.... I think that's why I'm now sick, so take care of yourself!!!

And 55 hours is a lot.... you work more than I do and I'M tired, kudos to you chica! You deserve some time to relax too, try to fit that in if you can! :)

J said...

We love the ma po tofu at Great Wall too. Best we've had in the area as the spicy sauce sets it apart from a lot of the gelatinous brown-sauced ma po dishes at other places. Great post!

Karena said...

No such luck w/the relaxing :( Aiming for some relaxation this wknd though haha.

J - Totally a MaPo Tofu snob after eating at Great Wall. Seriously, there's no turning that a good or bad thing???