Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Kimchi—What Else—Sichuan Pepper

Another item to look for when surfing Asian websites or walking through your nearest Asian market is Sichuan pepper.

Let’s start off by talking about what Sichuan pepper is not…

Sichuan pepper is NOT…

  • a chile pepper at all
  • actually from a pepper plant
  • closely related to either black pepper or the chili pepper
  • hot or pungent like black, white, or chili peppers
  • really a pepper at all
  • related to chili pepper
  • spicy hot like a chile pepper

So now that I’ve confused everybody by saying what Sichuan pepper is not, let’s find out what Sichuan pepper IS…

Sichuan pepper is perhaps the most important ingredient in Sichuan cuisine and is also commonly used in all sorts of Chinese cooking.

The spice actually comes from the prickly ash shrub, a member of the citrus family.

The seeds of the shrub have pinkish-red outer husks which can be dried and then either be used whole or ground into powder.

Sichuan pepper has an aroma that has been likened to lavender

As far as taste, Sichuan pepper has slightly lemony overtones and create a powerful mouth-numbing sensation similar to carbonated drinks.