I don’t know why the above items are all white, but I kind of started eating everything in sight and soon there were no more aesthetically-pleasing shot of the shao kao left. Oops!
Tonight we took Kathleen for the time-honored Sichuan tradition of Shao Kao. Shao Kao translates literally into something about barbecue and poetically translates into something like “delicious spicy bits of heaven on a stick.”
Basically they dip skewers of vegetables, meat, and carbohydrates into hot oil and then douse them in a spicy smokey herb and spice mixture, then grill them over an open flame. Then you give the lady (or man) some money and those swoon-worthy sticks of portable cuisine are yours-still hot enough to burn your tongue and your stomach lining on the way down.
Yes, this is a meal best enjoyed late at night with a bunch of friends and ideally chased with a cold beer to take the spicy edge off.
Which you should read as code for: China’s version of college-town drunk food.
Interestingly enough, I’ve never been a big beer (or any kind of) drinker but something about spicy Sichuan food definitely increases one’s appreciation for those tiny thimble-sized glasses of Tsingdao’s finest.
But whether you chase the spice with thimble-fulls of beer or cups of tea, Shao Kao is fantastic. I love the chewy nian gao and the lotus root and the rolled-up pin wheels of green onions. Chris swears by the skewers of quail’s eggs and firm doufu. Kathleen went to town on some chicken skin and lamb.
It’s all good, whatever you order so it’s worth it to pile the sticks high and try everything on the list.