- Make the chile oil in advance; it needs to sit for at least 24 hours before using. If you like, you can make it up to 3 months ahead and keep a jar on-hand in the fridge for use in all sorts of Sichuan dishes.
- Form the meatballs and wontons the night before and refrigerate them, wrapped in plastic, on a parchment-lined baking sheet until you're ready to cook them.
- Sichuan-style fried eggplant is firm yet creamy and bursting with flavor, but cooking it can be a challenge—eggplant's porous flesh soaks up oil like a sponge and can quickly go from silky to sodden. Danny Bowien, chef-owner of the Mission Chinese Food restaurants in New York and San Francisco, has some tips on technique.
- Read more about Sichuan cuisine in Matt Gross's story Capital of Heat, from SAVEUR issue #154. For hard-to-find ingredients, see our guide to the flavors of Sichuan »