Sichuan Pepper

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Sichuan pepper (or Szechuan pepper) is the outer pod of the tiny fruit of a number of species in the genus Zanthoxylum (most commonly Z. piperitum, Z. simulans, Z. sancho and Z. schinifolium), widely grown and consumed in Asia as a spice. Despite the name, it is not related to black pepper or to chili peppers. It is widely used in the cuisine of Sichuan, China. Sichuan pepper has a unique aroma and flavour that is not hot or pungent like black or white pepper, or chili peppers, but has slight lemony overtones and creates in the mouth a kind of tingly numbness (caused by its 3% of hydroxy-alpha-sanshool) that sets the stage for these hot spices. Recipes often suggest lightly toasting and then crushing the tiny seedpods before adding them to food. Only the husks are used; the seeds are discarded or ignored. It is generally added at the last moment. Star anise and ginger are often used with it and it figures prominently in spicy Sichuan cuisine. It is considered to go well with fish, duck, and chicken dishes, as well as with fried eggplant. It has an alkaline pH and a numbing effect on the lips when eaten in larger doses. Ma la (literally "numbing and spicy"), a flavor common in Sichuan cooking, is a combination of Sichuan pepper and chili pepper.This is a Southern Chinese recipe Ingredients: 2 lb white fish fillets, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 3 celery stalks, sliced diagonally 6 tbsps oil Marinade: 2 tsps salt 1 tbsp dry sherry 1 tsp ground ginger 1 egg white 2 tbsps cornstarch Pinch of pepper Sauce: 2 tbsps sesame oil 1 tsp garlic salt 1 tbsp dry sherry 1 tsp sugar 1 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in ?cup water Garnish: Halved tomato slices Directions: 1. Mix together the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl. Add the fish and leave to marinate for 10 to 15 minutes. 2. Parboil the celery in salted water for 1 minute; drain. 3. Heat 4 tbsps of the oil in a pan. Add the fish pieces and fry on both sides until they become white. Drain and pile in the centre of serving dish. 4. Heat the remaining oil in the pan. Add the celery and sprinkle with a little salt. Stir fry for 2 seconds. Arrange the celery around the fish. Keep hot. 5. Put all the sauces ingredients in a saucepan and cook, stirring continuously, until thickened. Pour over the fish and serve hot, garnished with tomato slices. Preparation time:2-3 working days.
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