Premium red Sichuan 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" 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 from the 2017 harvest. As a premium product, it is not only hand-harvested but hand-sorted so as to include mostly opened seed pods and very few stems and seeds, which appear in abundance in lower-quality Sichuan pepper. (Having said that, humans will be human, and some do slip through.) These Sichuan peppercorns go direct from farmer to our supplier in Chengdu for processing and packaging, and meet strict U.S. safety standards.
Go here for more information on Sichuan pepper or details on how to roast and grind the peppercorns to use as a powder. You'll also find recipes for numerous Sichuan dishes that feature hua jiao.
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.Source: Grown in Gansu Province, processed in Chengdu, Sichuan