Great Ways to Use Sichuan Green Peppercorns - Lafayette Spices

Great Ways to Use Sichuan Green Peppercorns

Chef Taylor Knapp

What is Sichuan Green Peppercorn?

We’re about to introduce you to a new spice that’s absolutely going to rock your culinary world. There are spices out there that we all know and love and have come to rely on over the years.

Things like paprika, cumin, ginger, cinnamon… that kind of thing. The flavors of these spices have become engrained in our memories and we could probably call them out blindfolded.

Then there are spices out there that we’ve never tasted before. Things from far away places that not fall under traditional flavor norms that we’re already used to. The Sichuan Green Peppercorn is one of those things.

This is an exotic spice that not many people have been able to taste. It’s fairly difficult to source from specialty suppliers and you’ll almost never see it at the grocery store.

The Sichuan Green peppercorn is as unusual as a spice can be. Both in flavor and appearance. It resembles a green bumpy pac man, with its mouth held open wide.

This strange spice comes directly from the source – China’s southwestern Sichuan province. It’s there that the revered Sichuan Green Peppercorn is grown, harvested, and packed for shipment all around the world.

There in China, the peppercorns have been used for centuries for both medicinal and culinary applications.

They’re harvested from a type of prickly ash tree (a member of the citrus family) and do not turn red when mature like many other types of peppercorns do.

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What does fresh Sichuan Green Peppercorn Taste Like?

Sichuan Green Peppercorns have an incredibly unique and memorable flavor profile. They don’t have a typical “heat” to them like a regular peppercorn does.

That could be because they’re not a peppercorn at all, but instead the berries of the prickly ash tree. These tiny berries are harvested once a year in the late summer.

The tiny fruits are hand picked – which takes a tremendous amount of time, and laid out to dry naturally in the heat of the sun. You see, because the berries are sun dried instead of dried quickly in the oven, it allows the delicate oils and flavors in the berries to develop and intensify, rather than cook out and be diluted with negative roasted flavors.

As the berries dry, they open up into that distinctive flower shape, which is probably why they’ve been nicknamed the “flower pepper”.

But let’s get into the flavor profile. What do Sichuan Green Peppercorns taste like? Well, for starters, they’re not spicy at all. But that doesn’t mean they’re not flavorful! Sichuan Green Peppercorns are bursting with flavors of citrus – things like lemon, lime, and yuzu.

They’ve even been said to have nuances of bitter grapefruit. They have unique floral properties unheard of in most traditional peppercorns, and the flavor lingers for several minutes.

The taste can be quite strong, which is why it’s often recommended that you use the spice sparingly. In other words, a little goes a long way! You wouldn’t want to use so much the dish you’re preparing is totally overwhelmed with the flavor.

Just a little pinch is enough to really experience it. Alternatively, you could use the peppercorns as an infusion. Instead of putting them directly into a recipe, you can wrap them in cheesecloth, or put them in a tea ball and allow the flavor to infuse, then pull them back out again. That way, you can add as much (or as little) flavor as you want without overwhelming the entire dish.

Balance is key here, and while the flavor of the Sichuan Green Peppercorn is absolutely delicious, it can be very strong and even off putting to someone that isn’t used to unusual flavor profiles.

Sichuan Green Peppercorns taste fresh, perky, and piquant

How spicy is Sichuan Green Peppercorn?

The Sichuan Green Peppercorn isn’t spicy at all! At least not in the traditional sense. We’ll explain.

Traditional peppercorns contain a chemical compound called piperine, which is a different kind of spicy from traditional fresh chili peppers. Those contain a chemical called capsacin.

Piperine is found in both the fruit and the seed of the peppercorn. Interestingly, piperine can actually start to bread down when exposed to heat, air, and light for extended periods of time.

Which is why it’s very important to store your spices in a cool dark place, preferably in a sealed container. Despite what people think, spices have a shelf life! They must be stored correctly and used quickly to get the best out of them.

Sichuan Peppercorns have a fresh, citrusy, and slightly floral taste

Do Sichuan Green Peppercorns numb your mouth?

Yes! Sichuan Green Peppercorns will absolutely numb your mouth. The peppercorns contain a chemical called hydroxy-alpha sanshool. This molecule is found naturally in plants from the genus Zanthoxylum.

We know that sounds like a mouthful, and it is, but the point is that Sichuan Green Peppercorns will numb your tongue. It’s not a full mouth numbing, really just the tip and sides of your tongue.

As stated previously, the numbing sensation does not accompany a heat or burning like a traditional peppercorn does. That’s because we’re dealing with two different chemicals entirely, that product completely different results on the palate.

The numbing does not last long. It’s not like going to the dentist and receiving a shot to have a cavity filled. It’s really more of a slight tingle, buzz, or electric sensation.

Accompanied by a light numbness on the surface of the tongue. This sensation, in its entirety, will only last a couple minutes at most. And that’s really at it’s most severe.

That would be if you ate and entire Sichuan Green Peppercorn whole. If the spice is ground and mixed into a dish, or rather infused gently into something like a sauce or stew, you’re really not going to experience more than a light tingle.

If you want the full buzzing and numbing experience, pop a few Sichuan Green Peppercorns into your mouth. But you’ve been warned. It will be an intense experience!

Chefs use Sichuan Green Peppercorns in cooking to increase the taste

How do chefs cook with Sichuan Green Peppercorns?

You would think that such an unusual peppercorn would be difficult to cook with, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Because the overall flavor of the Sichuan Green Peppercorn is generally that of citrus, it’s quite easy to work it into recipes.

We think it pairs very well with seafood. Think scallops – either seared or a fresh scallop ceviche would be incredible. It would also make an amazing accompaniment to raw clams or oysters – our favorite! Finally, the next time you happen across a slab of fresh tuna, hit it with the Sichuan Green Peppercorns!

They pair incredibly well whether you plan to enjoy the tuna raw or seared.
The Sichuan Green Peppercorn can be equally enjoyed on meat preparations. Simply crust the outside of your next burger, steak, or pork chop in a healthy layer of the peppercorns and sea salt.

That light citrus flavor and incredible numbing effect will come though even though a hard sear.

And let’s not forget about stir fry! One of our favorite ways to clean the fridge out. Compile a nice selection of veggies and meat, cook a pot of rice and enjoy! Cracking some Sichuan Green Peppercorn on the concoction either while it’s cooking or after will turn it into an instant masterpiece!

Finally, cocktails are a great way to utilize this unusual spice. We think it pairs best with cocktails that focus on gin or vodka. And especially those that utilize citrus. A gin and tonic with a crack of Sichuan Green Peppercorn and a slice of fresh ginger would be a game changer!

Buy Sichuan Green Peppercorn Online from Lafayette Spices

Are Sichuan Green Peppercorns good for your health?

Sichuan Green Peppercorns certainly are good for you. They can stimulate the immune system to reduce pain, boost appetite, and increase circulation.

Consuming Sichuan Green Peppercorn may help increase the hemoglobin content in your body and stimulate the circulatory system. The peppercorns also function as an analgesic and the chemicals in it can occupy the pain receptors. Thus, they can help eliminate pain and discomfort.

The peppers contain a high level of zinc, which is a potent mineral essential for improving the body’s natural immunity. They are not many signs of zinc deficiency in the body and it can easily go unchecked if not monitored.

In addition to improving natural immunity, the pepper contains various nutrients that stimulate the appetite and improve the speed of metabolism. In other words, the peppercorns make you hungry!

Sichuan Green Peppercorns are good for your health

Where can you buy Sichuan Green Peppercorns Online?

Sichuan Green Peppercorns can be purchased online from a variety of sources. Of course, it’s important to buy your spices from a reputable buyer, not just anyone.

The best spices of the highest quality are imported directly from the producer and sold quickly rather than stored for long periods of time. The volatile oils in the spices will lose that ummph over time, so it’s important that the spices are fresh and held under correct conditions.

Lafayette Spices adheres to all of these standards and we source our Sichuan Green Peppercorns directly from China.