How to Savor Sichuan Peppercorns

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Sichuan peppercorns are a fragrant, spicy, and slightly numbing spice popular in cuisine from Sichuan China. They are also known as Szechuan pepper, prickly ash berries, or Chinese coriander. The peppercorn is the dried berry of the Chinese prickly ash shrub. The taste is similar to black pepper with a citrusy, floral aroma that has been described as lavender-like or citrusy.

The essential oils in Sichuan peppercorns are largely responsible for their flavor and aroma. Sichuan peppercorns are moderately rich in essential oil and have one of the highest oil contents of all spices – about 4%.

Sichuan peppercorns develop their strongest aroma when lightly roasted. When ground, they can be sprinkled on food while cooking to enhance flavor. When used as a whole spice, they are often first soaked in vinegar, hot sauce or citrus juice to soften them before grinding and adding to recipes. Sichuan peppercorns can also be used to make tea by mixing with green or black tea leaves and steeping for 10 minutes until fully infused.

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Sichuan peppercorns, also known as Szechuan pepper or Chinese coriander, are a spice commonly used in the Sichuan province of China. Despite the name, sichuan pepper is not related to black pepper. The flavor is quite different and much more complex.

These peppercorns are the dried berries of a small tree in the citrus family which grows in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia.

Although sichuan peppercorns are used whole or ground into powder, they can also be infused in oil for use as a flavoring. This process adds an interesting dimension to the flavor of food and helps to bring out some of the undercurrents that might otherwise be missed.

Sichuan peppercorns are often combined with other spices such as star anise, making them an important ingredient in five-spice powder.

The blend works especially well with chicken and duck dishes, but can be added to stir fries or sprinkled on any meats or vegetables for extra flavor.**

Sichuan peppercorns are to Chinese cooking what black pepper is to European cooking. They have a wonderful, numbing and slightly spicy heat that is quite distinct from the hotness of chili peppers.

Sichuan peppercorns, which grow on trees in Sichuan province, are also called “fragrant” or “flowering” peppercorns because they give off a fragrant aroma when you grind them. They are available whole, dried and ground into a powder, or as oil made from their crushed berries.

The particular flavor of the peppercorn comes from an aromatic terpene called beta-sesquiphellandrene. It’s also responsible for the unique smell of Sichuan peppercorns.

A typical dish that uses Sichuan peppercorns is ma po dofu, or “pockmarked grandma’s tofu.” This is a spicy dish of ground pork and tofu cubes in a thick sauce flavored with Sichuan peppercorn powder that leaves a tingly numbing sensation on the tongue. You might also see Sichuan peppercorns used in pot stickers, stir-fried dishes like Kung Pao chicken, or anything else where you want a little extra oomph!**


Sichuan peppercorns have a unique flavor and a warming, numbing sensation that is truly unique to them. They are the only pepper known to contain both essential oils, with about 1% of the weight made up of fragrant and flavorful terpenes.

Sichuan peppercorns, also called “huajiao”, are the berries of a small tree in the citrus family. The tree is native to China and the berries are picked by hand. The harvesting can be done four times a year.

The peppercorn has a very low moisture content and usually loses more than half its weight just from drying, which makes it difficult to ship far distances. It is usually transported as whole berries or ground peppercorn.

The flavor of Sichuan peppercorns is derived from two compounds, hydroxy-alpha sanshool and hydroxy-beta guaiol. Sanshool is the compound that gives Sichuan pepper its namesake “numbing” quality. It’s the same compound found in wasabi that gives your nose that tingly feeling after you eat it. Guaiol has been shown to have anti-bacterial properties, which helps explain why Sichuan pepper was used for so many years as a food pres

Sichuan peppercorns are a type of pepper that grows in Sichuan Province in China. They have a unique aroma which is used to flavor many Chinese dishes. The peppercorns are also sometimes referred to as Sichuan pepper, flower pepper, or sanshool. These peppers can be found at most Asian grocery stores and specialty shops across the United States.


Sichuan peppercorns have a unique taste that can be described as “spicy-sweet-bitter.” They are pungent and aromatic, with a citrus-like bite similar to grapefruit and lemon. The taste of the peppercorn is more complex than black pepper, and it has been described by professional chefs as earthy, nutty, woody, smoky and slightly floral.

Taste buds

Sichuan peppercorns have an effect on taste buds that causes them to become more sensitive to certain flavors after eating them. This sensitivity can last up to two hours after consumption. Eating sichuan peppers is not recommended for people who suffer from heartburn or acid reflux disease because the effects can aggravate these conditions.

What they are

Sichuan peppercorns come from the same plant family as regular black pepper but

When you go to a Chinese restaurant, or buy some Chinese food at the supermarket, one of the things you will probably find is some little red peppercorns. These are what the Chinese call hua jiao, or flower pepper. They are not really pepper at all, but an irritant that makes you sneeze and so feel good after eating them.

The thing is, they don’t taste like pepper. They taste like tingling numbness and heat. There is a reason why they are called flower pepper: they are floral and fruity and spicy (and also numbing). The numbing quality is why you sneeze; your body is trying to flush out the irritants, but then it just feels good afterward.*

These little red peppercorns are more subtle than our black and white pepper — there’s no sharpness or depth of flavor — but that doesn’t make them any less interesting. You can grind them in a mortar, or use them whole as we do here with fish. The Sichuanese eat these peppercorns with everything from pork to fish to dumplings to chicken to noodles. If you have ever wondered what that numbing sensation is you get from Sichuanese food, now you know

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