Other Names: anise pepper, brown peppercorns, chinese aromatic pepper, chinese pepper, fagara, fahjiu (Cantonese), flower pepper, hu chiao (Mandarin), sansho (Japanese), sichuan peppercorns, timur (Nepalese), xanthoxylum
Description: Not a true peppercorn, but rather the dried berry/seed of a deciduous prickly ash tree. The 3-4 mm berry has a rough reddish brown shell that is split open and a black seed inside. The black seed is bitter and can be discarded. The red shell can be added whole to stewed dishes or ground to a powder and used a seasoning. The spice has a unique aroma and flavor that is not as pungent as black pepper and has slight lemony overtones.
Szechuan peppercorns are one of the five spices in Chinese five-spice powder. Called sansho in Japan, they are used in the spice mixture shichimi togarashi, or Japanese seven-spice seasoning.
Purchasing Information: The spice is best purchased whole and ground as needed. Can sometimes be found in bulk at health food and gourmet stores.