Szechuan cuisine or in Chinese ( 四川菜 ) is a style of Chinese cuisine originating in Szechuan Province of southwestern China which has an international reputation for being hot and numbing, because of the common ingredient Szechuan peppercorn. The four styles are separated by location: Chengdu, Chongqing, the Greater River (Yangtze), and the Lesser River (Jialing).
The common ingredient in Szechuan cuisine is the Szechuan peppercorn, or Fagara. This is an indigenous plant whose peppercorns produce a fragrant, numbing, almost citrusy spice. Also common are chilli, ginger and spicy herbs. The emphasis on spice may derive from the region's warm, humid climate, where people need a good sweat and necessitates sophisticated food-preservation techniques which include pickling, salting, drying and smoking. Broad bean chili paste is also a staple seasoning in Szechuan cuisine.
Common preparation techniques in Szechuan cuisine include stir frying, steaming and braising, but a complete list would include more than 20 distinct techniques. Beef is somewhat more common in Szechuan cuisine than it is in other Chinese cuisines, perhaps due to the widespread use of oxen in the region. Stir-fried beef is often cooked until chewy, while steamed beef is sometimes coated with rice flour to produce a very rich gravy.