Hanyuan Sichuan Pepper (Szechuan Peppercorn, 汉源花椒)
Estimated availability November 2020
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 that is popular in Sichuan, being brighter, lighter and more floral compared to da hong pao's warm, woodsy citrus. It is sorted to include mostly opened seed pods and few stems and seeds, which appear in abundance in lower-quality Sichuan pepper, though the Hanyuan pods are generally smaller than da hong pao and tend to retain a few more seeds.
The peppercorns went directly from the farmers in Hanyuan to our supplier for processing and safety testing. We at The Mala Market hand-package them weekly.
Usage: Sichuan peppercorns 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. More frequently they are toasted and ground to a coarse or fine powder. Alternatively, you can heat them in hot oil to infuse the flavor and remove the peppercorns altogether.
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 and pestle to your desired coarseness. If you desire a fine powder, 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