Szechuan Peppercorns

Botanical Name: Zanthoxylum piperitum. May also be Z. simulans, Z. planispinum, Z. armatum

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.

Five Spice Powder
Szechuan Tofu
Shichimi Togarashi
Japanese Onion Salad
Contributed by: Michelle Dick