Premium red Sichuan pepper (formerly Szechuan pepper) should have a strong citrusy fragrance and taste as well as an intense numbing quality. Ours is particularly potent, as it has not undergone the once-required heat-treatment process that for so long robbed Sichuan pepper of some of its punch. We believe we are the first to (legally) bring in untreated peppercorns, since Chinese suppliers uniformly heat-treat for the U.S. market.
A member of the citrus family, the Zanthoxylum genus includes numerous edible species of both red and green Sichuan pepper. The most famous red hua jiao, as Sichuan pepper is called in Sichuan, is grown in the village of Qingxi in Hanyuan County, Sichuan. It is also called gong jiao, or Tribute Pepper, as it was a delicacy sent annually from Hanyuan to the emperor in tribute. Hanyuan pepper has a quite different taste than da hong pao, the other red Sichuan pepper we carry.
This single-origin Sichuan pepper is from the fall 2018 harvest and is sorted so as to include mostly opened seed pods and few stems and seeds, which appear in abundance in lower-quality Sichuan pepper. Some of our first shipment of Hanyuan pepper from the 2018 harvest had too many seeds, and we pulled it from our site, but the pepper from the spring shipment is beautiful, with very few seeds or twigs.
The peppercorns go directly from the farmers in Hanyuan to our supplier for processing and meet strict U.S. safety standards. We at The Mala Market hand-package them weekly.
Usage: Sichuan peppercorns are a "raw" spice and should be cooked before consumption. They should not be eaten whole unless you want a real jolt, but they are fairly easy to eat around in dishes that use them whole. Otherwise you can just flavor the hot oil with them and remove, or grind them into a powder.
To grind: Sort Sichuan peppercorns and discard any stray black seeds, twigs or thorns. Toast in a dry skillet or toaster oven until pods start to smell very fragrant, but do not brown them. Let peppercorns cool, then grind in a spice or coffee grinder or in a mortar & pestle to your desired coarseness. Sift out any yellow husks that don't break down. Sichuan pepper powder will retain its potent flavor and numbing punch for only a few weeks, so grind in small batches.
To learn more about the history of Sichuan pepper in the U.S. and current sourcing in China, read this article we reported for Roads & Kingdoms and Slate.
Source: Grown in Qingxi, Hanyuan County, Sichuan Province
Size: 2 ounces (57 grams); 1 cup by volume
Ingredients: Single-origin Sichuan pepper. No additives or preservatives. Non-irradiated and non heat-treated