Have you had Sichuan food and had a funny numbing sensation in your mouth? What’s the cause of this strangely fun feeling? It’s one of Sichuan food major ingredients in cooking, the Sichuan Peppercorn. Like it or not, it creates a buzz.
Ingredient: Sichuan peppercorns
Other names: Szechuan peppercorns, Chinese prickly ash
Chinese name: 花椒 huājiāo (literally “flower pepper”)
Did you know?
As the name would suggest, Sichuan (Szechuan) cuisine is bountiful in dishes containing Sichuan peppercorns.
Despite its name, Sichuan peppercorns are not a direct relation of the pepper and chilli but rather a member of the citrus family.
Sichuan peppercorns have a very unique flavour profile. Unlike true peppercorns or chillies, Sichuan peppercorns are not profiled by a spicy heat but rather impart an unusual numbing sensation. Sichuan peppercorns are often paired with chillies to create numbingly spicy dishes such as mapo tofu, kungpao chicken and, perhaps most notably, Sichuan hot pot. Sichuan peppercorns are one the ingredients in Chinese five spice. The pairing of dried red chillies and Sichuan peppercorns causes the heat of the chillies to linger for a much longer time than chillies alone.
Suggestions on how to use ingredient:
Infuse oil: heat oil in a wok with a few Sichuan peppercorns. As soon as they become fragrant, scoop them out and discard. Continue with your stir fry recipe of allow to cool, funnel and bottle.
Spice up your popcorn: heat oil in a pan and add a few Sichuan peppercorns, add popping corn, turn off heat once popping stops and serve with a sprinkling of sea salt.
What BSK dish includes these ingredients?
Mapo tofu, Chongqing spicy chicken, sweet and sour lotus root, kungpao chicken.
When and where can they try these dishes:
Sichuan peppercorns inevitably pop up in dishes during our wine n dine dinners and in many of our class recipes.
If you want to come in and learn how to use Sichuan peppercorns more comprehensively in your cooking, join us for one of our Sichuan cooking classes.
Check our class schedule for Sichuan 1, Sichuan 2 and our tofu class.
~ blog post and photo contributed by Grace Carey (BSK Events Manager)