What are Sichuan Peppercorns?
Despite the name, Sichuan peppercorns are not peppercorns and therefore, not related to our common black peppercorns at all! Sichuan peppercorns are the highly aromatic husks of the prickly ash berries which are dried and sold and they look like miniature flowers
Their claim to fame is their mouth numbing characteristic. You get a tingling sensation on your tongue which sets the stage for the typically spicy dishes found in Sichuan cuisine.
And this is why, you’ll often (but not always) find them in fiery Sichuan dishes with hot chillies. This mouth numbing trait is believed to reduce the crippling heat of the chillies used, letting diners enjoy the flavours of the dish.
Sichuan peppercorns are not only used in Chinese cooking, it is also widely used in Tibet as well as some parts of India.
There are also different species of the Sichuan peppercorn. You’ll find varieties of it used in various parts of South East Asia, namely Thailand and Indonesia.
How to use Sichuan Peppercorns?
The best way to enjoy these peppercorns is to dry roast them on medium-low heat for a couple of minutes until the aroma intensifies, then pound them in a pestle and mortar with a pinch of salt, before adding to the dish as required.
Toasting the Sichuan peppercorns not only intensifies the flavour and fragrance, but it also allows the peppercorns to be pounded more easily.
Pounding them first reduces the overall tingling sensation, allowing you to enjoy its taste with just a hint of tingle.
Where to buys Sichuan Peppercorns?
All Oriental stores will sell them, whether Chinese, Japanese or Korean. Chances are, Thai and Vietnamese ones will do too.
Failing that, go online, something I have to do regularly to source out specialist ingredients.
Want to cook “exotic” food? You gotta source out those pesky ingredients!
Click here to buy Sichuan peppercorns on Amazon. This is my affiliate link, which means I earn a tiny, tiny commission should you buy it through this link. 😉