Premium red Sichuan pepper (formerly Szechuan peppercorn) 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) import 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" was historically grown in Hanyuan County, Sichuan, but just as popular—if not more so—in Sichuan nowadays is the da hong pao species grown in Gansu and other northern China provinces.
Da hong pao, or big red pao, is the Sichuan pepper flavor profile most of us are familiar with. It is warm and woodsy compared to Hanyuan's bright lemony tartness. It is also larger and brighter red than Hanyuan.
This big red pao is a single-origin spice grown in the Wudu area of Gansu Province and is from the 2018 harvest. It is a premium product, sorted to include mostly opened seed pods and few stems and seeds, which appear in abundance in lower-quality Sichuan pepper. The harvested peppercorns go directly from farmer to our supplier in Chengdu for processing, and meet strict U.S. safety standards.
What you will learn from purchasing or reading reviews of other sellers' Sichuan peppercorns is that the quality is inconsistent even among the higher grades. We have also found that to be the case, with some of our large bags coming to us very clean and others containing more seeds and stems. It also varies by species of peppercorn and from harvest to harvest. In some years, the peppercorns don't open as fully to discharge the black, gritty seeds. We do not sell the peppercorn lots that have more seeds—or we hand sort them ourselves before we do.
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 or twigs. 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.
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 Wudu, Gansu 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.
Recent customer feedback:
I have no idea what I was buying before that were supposedly Sichuan peppercorns, but yesterday after trying the chili oil I made with the peppercorns I bought from your store, I realized I had never really experienced true Sichuan peppercorns before. Wow! The numbing/tingling is really intense, and the citrus flavor is really pronounced. Such a different experience! I'm hooked! ~~Dhyana W.
Once a week I do a Chinese pop up in the space. I use your peppercorns every chance I can. The amount of mala oil I can make from just 2 oz of your SZ peppercorns is amazing. Honestly don't know if I would serve Sichuan food without them. I really feel you could charge three times the price and I wouldn't bat an eye! You all are truly unique in what you provide. I travel down to Chinatown in Boston every couple of weeks to pick up the rest of my ingredients and have tried every peppercorn in that city. They aren't even half as good! ~~Chef Dusty B.
From "These 10 Great Online Specialty Food Stores Have Everything" in Bon Appetit:
[The Mala Market] offer crazy good Sichuan peppercorns, which are complex, intense, and citrusy—as opposed to the bunk ones, which are bitter, not as aromatic, and lacking that crucial mouth-numbing quality.—Mari Uyehara