|Indigenous to China, Sichuan peppercorns are also called aniseed pepper, Chinese pepper, Chinese prickly-ash, Fagara, Indonesian lemon pepper, Japanese pepper, Nepal pepper, Sansho or Szechwan pepper. You’ll also find these alternative spellings - Szechuan, Szechwan and Schezuan.
While these are called peppercorns, they are not related to black peppercorns which are native to India. Actually, these are not peppercorns at all, but instead these distinctive reddish-brown “peppercorns” are the outer pod of the fruit of an aromatic shrub or small tree native to the Central Province of China. They are now also grown in temperate zones of the Himalayas, Japan and North America. While not technically a pepper at all, this member of the Rutaceae (rue or citrus) family is closely related to the prickly ash (which is called the "toothache tree" because the bark has often been used to numb tooth pain).
Sichuan peppercorns are a key spice in the cuisine of Chinese province of Sichuan and they’re also widely used in Batak, Bhutanese, Japanese, Konkani, Nepalese, Tibetan and Toba cuisines. Sichuan pepper is considered a critical seasoning in Bhutanese, Nepali and Tibetan cooking because this Himalayan region produces very few fresh spices. Momo is a popular dumpling dish that’s filled with meat, vegetables and spiced with the Sichuan peppercorns.
Before the introduction of the chile pepper in the 15th century, Asian cultures used Sichuan pepper and ginger to provide heat to many dishes. Today, the familiar heat of Sichuan cuisine instead comes from the red chile pepper Tien Tsin. Many traditional Chinese recipes still call for Sichuan pepper.
Sichuan berries are very fragrant and provide an unusual, sharp flavor that begins mildly warm with earthy, lemony undertones and then quickly evolves to an almost numbing sensation on the tongue that works well with hot spices. Its complex and surprising flavor is often used to intensify the flavor of cheese, chicken, seafood and vegetables. Home chefs who love to add an exotic, captivating twist to a dish will use it as a substitute for black pepper.
Dry-roasting this Chinese pepper releases their aromatic oils bringing out their best flavor. To dry-roast, roast your berries in heavy frying pan over a medium high heat for 3-4 minutes. When these berries get hot they will begin to smoke so monitor this process carefully and dispose of any burnt berries. Remove from heat and let them cool and then grind as needed. We recommend roasting and grinding in small batches (just as much as you need for any one dish) as the flavor dissipates quickly.
Ground Sichuan peppercorns are a key ingredient in Chinese Five Spice.
Sichuan Peppercorns go well in combination with black beans, chili, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, soy sauce and star anise.
Some of the more popular dishes using Sichuan peppercorns are Bang Bang Ji (a Chicken dish), Dan Dan Noodles and Kung Pao Chicken.
We also carry a deep selection of Peppercorns that include – black peppercorns, green peppercorns, white peppercorns, pink peppercorns and Tellicherry peppercorns.