In Chinese script (above),the name of the establishment,at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Neridah Street in northern Sydney's Chatswood, means it is the "House of Well Water", an indirect reference to a source of wealth and resources. The Red Chilli Sichuan Restaurant in English can be snappy and easier to remember, but it is the quality of the food served that will make diners return. Janie and Joyce joined me on a Sunday evening to sample the Sichuanese cuisine that this House offers. The place we visited, opposite the Chatswood Chase Shopping Centre, is only but one of a chain operating in the Sydney area.
I am a fan of duck dishes,whether from Tassie, Europe or Asia. Smoked duck (above) is made by infusion with a choice of tea or lychee - and cooked with camphor wood fire for the aromatic effect.
The version dished out by the House of Well Water was moist, hinted of rubbed spices and with lean meat.
I share below a straight forward recipe I found fromhttp://m.ifood.tv/recipe/sichuan-smoked-duck
Sichuan Smoked Duck recipe
Main Ingredients: Poultry
1 fresh duck
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered Sichuan peppercorns or sansho
3 spring onions, coarsely chopped
8 cm (3 in) ginger, sliced
1/2 cup Chinese rice wine
3/4 cup black Chinese tea leaves
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup bay leaves
4 whole star anise
2 sticks cinnamon, each 8 cm (3 in) in length
4-6 spring onions, white part only, shredded
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn powder or sansho
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon oil
1) Wash and pat dry the duck.
2) Sprinkle the duck inside and out with salt and Sichuan pepper by massaging properly.
3) Pour over the rice wine and leave to marinate for 45 minutes.
4) Remove the duck from the marinade.
5) Ina wok, heat some water, lower the bird into the wok.
6) With a large ladle, scoop the water over the duck.
7) Blanch for 1 minute, drain and leave to dry while preparing the smoking ingredients.
8) In a bowl, mix tea leaves, anise, and other ingredients. Put it in the wok.
9) Heat over a moderate fire, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, then put a rack over the smoking ingredients.
10) Place the duck on the rack, cover the wok and smoke the duck over low heat for 1 hour.
11) In individual bowls, put the stirred sauce.
12) In individual bowls, again, put spring onions.
13) When the duck has been smoked, remove from the wok, discarding the smoking ingredients.
14) Heat oil for deep frying and fry the smoked duck over very high heat, turning to cook all over to a golden brown.
15) Drain, cut into serving pieces and serve with Steamed Dumplings
16) Serve with sauce and spring onions.
Egg plant slices are a favourite of Asian cuisines, although not mine.
However, I was happy with the combination of a braised prawn and eggplant creation (image above), which lured me with its texture, an emerging sense of chili pepper and an appetising after taste.
Our third dish was literally served on a paper funnel placed over a bowl - easy-on-the tongue silken tofu pieces brewed with ham bits and sitting on an egg-based gravy. Chinese styled dishes do go well with steamed white rice, although we did not have any that evening. We did have piping hot smoked tea.