This is one of the most famous dishes from Sichuan. Mrs Chen of the Qing Dynasty, who apparently was scarred with pock marks on her face, was said to be the wife of a chef but it's her beancurd dish, with its lingering spicy and slightly numbing aftertaste that has earned her a solid celebrity status. Made with soft textured beancurd that is difficult to find outside Asia, the intensity of the flavours is usually enhanced by tiny leeks. It is a rich and warming dish on chilly winter evenings.
Note Salted black beans (dou chi) are made from fermented, salted soy beans. Also called black fermented beans or preserved beans, they are savoury with a wonderful aroma reminiscent of a good soy sauce.