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May 18, 2011 01:51 PM

Origin of 辣炒辣 dish at Beijing Restaurant [San Francisco]

We have had the wonderful dish 辣炒辣 at the Beijing Restaurant several times.

Literal English: "Chili stir fry Chili".
Menu: Chili Delights with House Special Sauce (Serve with 4 pancake)

Last night this led to a discussion of where in China this dish comes from. Is it of Beijing origin? Or is it Beijing influenced by Sichuan or ...? Or is this a known Sichuan dish? Or??? Maybe one of you experts can answer this for us.

It is a spicy dry cooked preparation of finally chopped chicken and fresh chilis and egg, somewhat like moo-shu in concept as it is served with pancakes, but totally different.

I don't see any recipe like this in Fuchsia Dunlop's Sichuan book and it doesn't seem quite Sichuan to me.

Thanks for any input.

Beijing Restaurant
1801 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94112

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  1. Is this similar to Old Mandarin Islam's "Spicy enough to kill you"? My guess it's a form of torture by the Manchus back in the old days. Seriously, it is like chopped chilis sprinkled with some chicken-too spicy for me. Someone should send it to that fat guy on Man v Food, and punish him for all the gluttony he has unleashed on this world.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hedge_hog

      That does sound like Old Mandarin Islamic's "extremely hot pepper." They don't serve it with pancakes, but the dish would make more sense with them.

      They used it as a challenge in Chefs vs. City.

      Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant
      3132 Vicente St, San Francisco, CA 94116

    2. No help on the dish (which sounds great, I want some right now) but a question: Did you have it at the original Beijing location or the new one?

      We had the crazy hot dish at Old Mandarin Islamic last year at a Chowdown and loved it, though it might be a bit much if you weren't in a group. It was pretty funny watching Aaron Sanchez and Chris Cosentino try to choke down a whole dish of it each on Chef vs City which I had to watch when it was set in SF.

      3 Replies
      1. re: grayelf

        It was at the original Beijing at Alameny and Ocean.

        Now that you all mention it, I vaguely remember something like this at Old Mandarin Islamic but it never registered as a must-have dish.

        The version at Beijing is definitely hot but it is not crazy hot. It is very well balanced and interesting. Hot like some Sichuan dishes at Spices II, but no ma la.

        Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant
        3132 Vicente St, San Francisco, CA 94116

        Spices II
        291 6th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

        1. re: Thomas Nash

          Thanks. The Beijing on Alemany has been on my list for a while but it seems a bit far for transit-dependent visitors. Will think on...

          1. re: grayelf

            I would guess they have this at the Sunset location also. The menus seemed to be pretty much identical except for the addition of the Beijing Duck dish only in the Sunset.

      2. I think this is one of those dishes that have no true interpretation given the name. It's like how there are multiple variants on dan dan noodles or macaroni cheese (as discussed on the LA board), except the big difference being we know where dan dan noodles came from.

        Searching in Chinese returns very few related results, with one blogger type offering a receipe that includes pork belly and claiming the dish is basically stir fried red chilis with green chilis (and of course no origin story). I think it is up to the restaurant to determine what kind of meat and other ingredients to add (besides the chiis). It sounds to me this is one of those 家常菜 (jia tsahng tsai), meaning everyday typical home cooked type dishes, but relegated to regional cuisines that incorporate spices and chili's. The addition of egg definitely makes it more homey, binds it together, and gives it a little more texture(akin to stir frying tomatoes, or bitter melon, and throwing a few eggs and some meat or cheap seafood in there to be scrambled together for good measure). In searching flickr one result came out with an interpretation that is from a closed Hunan restaurant in Southern California (now closed) with a comment from the blogger (in a different link) that the addition of onions and chopped meat differed from what she had in Taiwan.

        1 Reply
        1. re: K K

          Yes, I think the Beijing Restaurant version of this dish is based on typical home cooking techniques. Seems to me like something your Auntie would make at home in Beijing, if your Auntie was a great cook. One unusual aspect, to me at least, was the extremely fine chopping of the chicken and other ingredients.

        2. Here's a scary thought: my husband first had a dish by that name in Beijing, and he said Beijing Restaurant's version isn't nearly as spicy.

          I took home leftovers and mixed it with plenty of soft-scrambled eggs. It was delicious over rice, but still incredibly spicy! I don't know how anyone's supposed to fill one of those paper thin pancakes with it and not burst into flames. But it sure is tasty.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pei

            This may support my best guess that this is a typical dish at some Beijing neighborhood restaurants.

            Can your husband remember what kind of restaurant it was in Beijing that he had this at?

            They do like spicy in Beijing -- I remember many Sichuan dishes were hotter in Beijing than in Chengdu or SF.

          2. Oh nice, thanks for making this post! I was also curious of its origins after eating it for the first time last night. Anyone who orders it would be wise to embed it in a meal with other dishes that can neutralize the spice. The use of fresh chilis and lots of seeds made it spicier than any Sichuan dish I've eaten. It really knocked my socks off.

            Have your pancakes tended to dry out quickly? I waited a few minutes to start this dish, and mine all cracked as I folded them.