Da Hong Pao Sichuan Pepper (Szechuan Peppercorn, Hua Jiao)
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) 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 and varieties of both red and green Sichuan pepper. The most famous red hua jiao, as Sichuan pepper is called in Sichuan, 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 robe, is warm and woodsy, with a hint of menthol, compared to Hanyuan's bright, floral fragrance.
This da hong pao is a single-origin spice grown in the Wudu area of Gansu Province. The peppercorns are hand-picked and dried by the farmers before our buyer chooses the best and and has them machine-sorted once and hand-sorted twice, as only the top grades are. This insures only opened seed pods and no seeds, which appear in abundance in lower-quality Sichuan pepper. We at The Mala Market hand-package them weekly to insure freshness.
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 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. 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. (And never buy pre-ground Sichuan pepper powder if you want to experience the numbing quality of the spice.)
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 Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown.
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