Sichuan Peppercorns Standard Jar - 24g Steenbergs details and description
Steenbergs Sichuan Pepper - or Szechwan Pepper - currently comes from Nepal and is one of the classic flavours that comes through in good Chinese food. Sichuan pepper has a unique warm and fragrant flavour, not as pungent as black pepper with slight lemon overtones; if you put some on your tongue, you are initially lulled into a false sense of security and then it seems to fizz like a feisty and strong sherbet on your tongue, numbing it slightly. Sichuan pepper is an important constituent of Chinese five spice powder - dry roast for the best flavour.
Sichuan pepper - also known as Szechwan Pepper - comes from the dried berries of the prickly ash tree, Zanthoxylum piperitum, which is a deciduous tree that grows to some 3m (10ft) high. The sichuan pepper tree has sharp, spiny prickles on its stem and branches, hence its name "prickly" ash. The sichuan pepper tree has 30cm long leaf clusters that are divided into 5-11 oval leaflets that resemable small bay leaves. In late spring, small greenish-yellow flowers appear before the leaves, followed by spherical, red berries that grow up to 5mm (0.25 inches) in diameter. the Sichuan pepper berries are picked when they turn from red to a reddish-brown and split open, whereupon they are dried. On drying, these Sichuan pepper berries have short thin stems and split to reveal a tiny black seed that is gritty when crushed and has a bitter taste. The aroma is warm, peppery, fragrant with some citrus notes, while its flavour is fragrant, peppery and tangy, but in time becomes resinous then builds to a lingering and numbing sensation on the tongue when tried, which is called ma in Chinese, meaning "anaesthetic" or "pins and needles"; this effect comes from sanshools, chemicals in the husks, that react with taste receptors on the tongue and around the lips. It is best to remove as many berries as possible before grinding as these are bitter in flavour so can impact the general taste. The powdered leaves are used in Japanese cooking and called sansho, having a milder more lemony flavour. For more on Sichuan pepper, try Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages.
Sichuan pepper is traditionally used in Chinese five spice blends, but we use black pepper as sourcing the Sichuan as organic is difficult. Dry roasting them before making your own Chinese five spice adds extra fragrance and nuttiness to the taste. In Japan, Sichuan pepper leaves (sansho) are used in the spice blend, shichimi-togarashi with salt, black sesame seeds and monosodium glutamate. Mix Sichuan pepper with ginger and grind down to a powder then use to rub into meats, especially fatty ones like duck, before cooking. Or to add sex appeal to deep fried foods - mix 1 teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns and 3 tablespoons of salt then dry fry over a low heat until the peppercorns start smoking and the salt is brown, cool then grind. For some cooking ideas, try Allrecipes or the BBC.
More recipe ideas using Steenbergs Sichuan peppercorns:
From Dave at Fine Dining at home the delicious: http://www.fdathome.co.uk/tea-...
Steenbergs Sichuan Pepper is part of the Steenbergs range of over 400 spices, blends and seasonings, peppers, herbs, bakery ingredients and flavoured sugars, many of these are organic and several carry the Fairtrade Mark. For your local Steenbergs' stockist follow the link, or call 01765 640088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.