From China, Szechuan peppercorns have a tingling heat that is downright addicting!
Like pink peppercorns, the Szechuan peppercorn is not actually related to the black pepper plant. Also spelled like Sichuan, Szechwan, and Szechuan, this spice from China has an easily distinguished citrusy taste capable of producing a tingling, numbing sensation in the mouth when eaten.
The Asian peppercorns are known for their pungent flavors and frequent use in Chinese cuisine, especially regional cuisines from the Szechuan Provence of China, Nepal, Tibet, and the Himalayas. In many Asian dishes where chili peppers are now used, originally a blend of this Chinese pepper and ginger was used to create the spicy heat. Ma La sauce is a popular Szechuan sauce that has a strong kick. It is a blend of Sichuan pepper and chili peppers, and attacks from all angles: the spicy flavor of chili peppers mingles with the tingling of Szechuan peppercorns to make a robust and intense sauce. Not for the faint of heart, this sauce is best mixed with noodles, vegetables, and meats in hot-pots and soups. Szechuan peppercorns are also often found in Himalayan dumplings and Nepalese noodle dishes.
One of the ingredients in Chinese Five-Spice Powder, Sichuan peppercorns are most often found dried and can be used whole or ground. To fully unlock flavors, lightly toast seeds before using. It pairs well with salt, star anise, ginger, and black pepper.
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