Spices: Szechwan (Sichuan) Peppercorns | Fagara | Chinese Pepper

Szechwan (Sichuan) Peppercorns | Fagara | Chinese Pepper

Szechwan or Sichuan Pepper is technically not a pepper, but the berries are from a shrub of the prickly ash family which is native to the Sichuan provice of China.  They are tiny, reddish-brown peppercorns sheathed in a flowerlike husk. cooks for millennia. They are tiny, reddish-brown peppercorn-like berries sheathed in a flowerlike husk and have been much favoured by Sichuan cooks for millennia.

The berries are dried after picking and are husked to remove small, bitter black seeds before crushing.

Before trying them, people expect the peppercorns to have a pungent taste, but their taste is subtle – clean, woody and slightly numbing to the tongue with a lingering “fizzy” aftertaste. Their aroma is pleasingly pungent.

Sichuan Pepper is often combined with other spices – for example in Chinese Five Spice Powder. It is also combined with salt or other peppers for seasoning, or with dried orange peel and star anise.

The peppercorns should always be toasted before grinding or crushing. Toasting can be done in a heated wok with peppercorns in a singly layer, being stirred for 3 minutes until they are fragrant and on the point of smoking. Remove from the pan and cool before using.

They can be crushed or used whole.

Sichuan Pepper

Feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series. You might also like our Spice information here.  Check out our easy Asian recipes here and here.

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