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Sichuan Peppercorns Available??

  • b

I thought I read someplace that Sichuan peppercorns were now permitted to be imported again. I asked at Kaluystan's yesterday and was told they still are not available. Anybody know what the status is, and where can I find some in NYC? Going to Chinatown today, so any ideas will be appreciated.

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  1. I bought some at Adriana's Caravan, in the Grand Central Market, 2 weeks ago.

    1. They can be legally imported under heat treatment guidlines approved about a year ago, but it was only in the last couple of months that the vetting and distribution process seems to have been worked out, and the pipeline started flowing freely again. They should be available in NY Chinatown by now. For reference, I paid $7.59 for a lb. in San Francisco Chinatown about a month ago. They were labeled as "red prickly ash" in English and as "Sichuan hua jiao" in Chinese.

      Link: http://eatingchinese.org

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gary Soup
        Clyde Tressler

        does the heat treatment change the taste? i would think it could easily volatilize some of the oils.

        1. re: Clyde Tressler

          The heat treatment is probably not very destructive, 140 degrees for 10 minutes is all that's required. Remember that the peppercorns are typically pan-roasted before use,anyway.

          Link: http://eatingchinese.org

      2. Dynasty supermarket on elizabeth and... hester? just below Grand st. NE corner.
        they are in the spice/dried foods aisle, and are labeled "Prickly Ash".
        Bought some 2 days ago!

        1. They carry Sichuan peppercorns at Penzy's Spices. There is a location at Grand Central.

          1. You can get them in many places in Chinatown.

            1. Which stores have fresh, well-flavored ones? I tried a bag from the supermarket on Mott near Chatham Square, and they had no flavor. Ditto the ones from Zabar's.

              Also, should the black BB-size center should be removed? It's like gravel and seems to have no flavor.

              1 Reply
              1. re: KRS

                The tastiest I've found have been from The Spice House (online, Chicago, Milwaukee). They create an incredible amount of tingle on the tongue, like sucking on a 12V battery. Very fresh with a good aroma and citrus flavor. I have not found an equal at the Asian shops. Penzey's might have good quality ones since they historically have familial ties with The Spice House and may have the same sources.

              2. the ones I tried from Dynasty Supermarket in Chinatown were really amazing: the description of sucking on a battery is perfect. Yes, the black seed should be removed. I bought a 50g bag for $1.68.I also picked up a jar of chili sauce called, aptly, "Spicy Sauce" from "Fish Well" brand. Prickly ash (sichuan peppercorns) are a main ingredient in the sauce, and it's delicious.

                1. Apparently the secret is go get them from someone who circumvents the FDA rule that requires them to be heat treated. I'm not sure if this means getting them from Canada or directly from Asia, but most that are sold here aren't very good because of the treatment. This really kills their flavor-at my local spice store the vendor told me that you can no longer cook them into a dish, you have to add them at the end in order to really get the flavor. If you aren't used to eating them you might not notice, but those of us that eat good Szechuan a lot definitely notice the difference. There is still the tongue tingle but not the super-intense flavor.