China bites: Pork lungs in chili sauce

By Owen Fishwick | | Updated: 2017-08-08 09:22

China bites: Pork lungs in chili sauce

Slices of beef, heart, tripe, tongue are generously slathered in chili oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds. [Photo provided to China Daily]

China's southwestern Sichuan is a province steeped in history, drenched in culture and rich in tradition, but towering above them all is the pungent, numbing heat and spiciness wafting from bowls of its famous cuisine.

Apart from the signature hot pot or mapo tofu, Sichuan is also the birthplace of fuqi feipian (pork lungs in chili sauce), which literally means husband and wife lung slice. Served chilled or at room temperature, the dish centers on a mountain of thinly sliced beef, heart, tripe, tongue and pig's ear, which has been tossed in chili oil, smattered with sesame seeds and peanuts, and sprinkled with coriander.

It's delicious and can be enjoyed as a shared snack to pick at with friends, accompanied by an icy cold beer. Though some may be a little squeamish about the idea of eating off cuts of pig and cow, they can be reassured that, despite its name, fuqi feipian rarely arrives with any sliced lung.

Fuqi feipian is most often found on the street side where vendors can be seen mixing the pre-prepared ingredients in metal bowls, creating just the right balance of spice and flavor bespoke to any order. Franchises such as Zi yan bai wei ji, located across southwestern China, offer the unique dish for around 25 yuan ($3.67) per serving.

A little bite of history

Though there were many iterations of fuqi feipian gracing Sichuan tables back as early as the Qing Dynasty (1616-1912), the most famous origin story revolves around a married couple.

In the 1930s, Guo Chaohua and his wife, Zhang Tianzheng, became known for selling a street snack titled "leftover beef entrails". Thanks to their unique recipe, which proved extremely popular with the locals, along with the snappy marketing minds of children thinking up nicknames for each other, fuqi feipian – meaning husband and wife lung slice – was born and stuck as the name of any similar dish ever since.

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