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May 30, 2008 06:37 AM

Spicy & Tasty: Sichuan cooking and the use of fish...


I have a good friend who's EXTREMELY allergic to ALL things seafood (fish & shellfish).

She generally has no problem eating out -- she just explains her allergy and asks if there's any seafood "hidden" in the dishes she's ordering.

She's even able to eat asian cuisines that use fish sauces -- she just knows which ones use them and which don't.

Well, she wants to join in on an outing to Spicy & Tasty next week. So... my question is this:

Beyond avoiding the obvious seafood dishes, does Sichuan cooking use fish paste or fish sauce of any kind as a building block in their food? Is there any category of items that she should avoid?

Thanks, as always, in advance.


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  1. I can't answer that for a certainty, but I will point out that the commonly encountered yuxiang ("fish flavored") coking technique in Sichuan cuisine does NOT normally involve fish, despite the name.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Xiao Yang

      agree with xiao yang, but the people at S&P can speak english (or at least some of them can), I'd highly recommend telling them allergies are no joke

    2. In addition to asking their staff about fish paste & fish sauce, you may want to ask specifically about oyster sauce, which is ubiquitous in Chinese cooking and often contains oyster extract (in the higher quality oyster sauces; none in the cheaper versions). If you're friend is okay w/ certain fish sauces, perhaps she's okay w/ oyster sauce as well (?). Also, you may want to inquire about the use of dried shrimp and dried scallops. They're often used to enrich soups and broths, and the broths are then sometimes used in the sauces of certain dishes.

      In any event, I'm sure there will be lots of dishes that won't have any of the above. Happy eating.

      2 Replies
      1. re: BklynBlaise

        Hmmm... this is what I was afraid of. It seems that seafood is a hidden flavor component in many dishes...

        Yeah, I could always ask, but when there's somewhat of a language barrier I've found that they'll steer you away from the seafood dishes but will never admit to their being any aspect of seafood in any other dish.

        This friend is always so afraid of getting fed seafood on the sly -- apparently it results in 72 hours of... shall we say, "extreme digestive issues"?

        Yet I've seen her eat Thai and Chinese with no fear numerous times -- she just skips the dishes that have seafood as the protein or any other obvious component.

        I guess I'll leave it up to her. I'll order a big ol' feast for the table and let her deal with trying to understand which dishes may take her out. ;)

        Thanks everyone!

        1. re: Peter

          fyi, like i said i think u'll be able to get by on english at S&T and I don't think oyster sauce is used frequently in sichuan food