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These recipes were originally published along with our article Capital of Heat, found in SAVEUR Issue #154.
A light lager beer like Tsingtao offers ice-cold relief to a spicy meal. Other beers popular in China that might do the trick: Harbin Beer, Tiger Beer, and even China Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Certain dishes can be prepared halfway the night before: the spareribs should be marinated overnight, while the eggplant and the pork wontons can both be prepared through step one and set aside, well-wrapped, in the refrigerator. The chile oil should be made at least 24 hours in advance, preferably longer.
A complex combination of spices, chiles, and peppercorns is what gives these dishes such depth of flavor. For an explanation of Sichuan specialty ingredients and where to find them, see our Flavors of Sichuan gallery »