Last Sunday, after a late night followed by a morning of (admittedly self-inflicted) pain I was in need of something soothing. So Dave and I returned to the scene of these fabulously more-ish noodles to try another menu item: dou tang fan (豆汤饭 - bean and rice soup).
In Chengdu there are dozens of little shops serving dou tang fan; it's yet another dish that I don't know from our long-ago English teaching days. The first time I saw the characters, which literally translate to 'bean, soup, rice', I wondered if the dish might be sweet, warm, and made with red or mung beans, like the dessert-ish soups we often find in Southeast Asia.
Not so, not in the slightest. Dou tang fan is a savory cross between congee and a Western bean soup, and it's main ingredient is wan dou (豌豆 - dried garden peas, from the same plant which sprout dou miao/豆苗, the delicious pea leaves and tendrils that are a staple green veggie in Sichuan).
Dou tang fan is assembled to order: the wan dou, already stewed to baked beans consistency, are dished up from a big pot and stirred into hot broth. Finely shredded chicken, sliced napa cabbage, and rice are added and the soup is simmered just long enough to barely soften the cabbage. Right before serving it's seasoned with a bit of black pepper and sliced scallions.
Anyone who likes congee or Western-style bean soup would adore this dish. If you enjoy both -- as I do -- then it's a double-whammy slam dunk guaranteed to send you into spasms of ecstacy. (OK, maybe it's not quite that good. Close, though.)
The starch from the rice and the wandou thicken the flavorful broth and the cabbage brightens the intensely hearty flavors. As I hung my head in the vapors rising from my bowl and slurped up beans, rice, and greens, I couldn't imagine any food more suited to a tender tummy.
By the time I'd eaten half my dou tang fan I was dipping chopsticks into Dave's order of the shop's other specialty: ban ji pian (拌鸡 片), a beloved Sichuanese spicy cold dish of thinly sliced chicken bathed in chili oil seasoned with ground Sichuan peppercorns and raw garlic.
And just like that, I was back on the pony.
Jin Popo Shouzhang Mian, Xiaojiahe Jie (Xiaojiahe Street) almost at
the corner with Xiaojiahe Bei Jie (Xiaojiahe North Street). Look for a
double-front shop and, in front of the prep window, a big brown pot o' beans.