Sichuan pepper, also known as Szechuan pepper or Chinese pepper, is a spice commonly used in Chinese and other Asian cuisines. Despite its name, Sichuan pepper is not a true pepper; it comes from the dried berries of the Zanthoxylum simulans or Zanthoxylum piperitum plant, which is a type of citrus plant.
The spice is known for its unique flavor profile, characterized by a numbing or tingling sensation on the tongue rather than the heat associated with traditional peppers.
Sichuan pepper has a citrusy and floral aroma with a slightly sweet and earthy flavor. The tingling or numbing sensation is attributed to compounds such as hydroxy-alpha sanshool found in the outer husk of the seeds.
It is a key ingredient in various Chinese dishes, particularly in Sichuan cuisine, where it is used in both savory and spicy dishes to add depth and complexity.
Additionally, Sichuan pepper is used in some traditional medicines for its supposed health benefits. Its popularity has also spread to other parts of Asia and beyond, contributing to its recognition in international cuisine.
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