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Mar 25, 2009 08:31 AM

Sichuan Peppercorns in Los Angeles?


I'm just finishing Fuchsia Dunlop's wonderful book "Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China". Reading her descriptions of the fragrant peppercorns permeating any room they are in has reignited my quest for Sichuan Peppercorns.

My original source was the Kowloon Market in Chinatown, long since gone. When the peppercorns were banned I gave up trying to find them but apparently the ban has lifted. The problem is that instead of seeing the big bags of peppercorns, now I only see little spice jars of peppercorns!!!

They still would have to be prepared the same ... [heating until very hot, whirring in the food processor and shaken in a sieve to get the usuable powder] ... so what is the point of buying only the little tiny spice jars?

Does anyone know of a source in Los Angeles to buy bags of Sichuan Peppercorns. I'm willing to drive.

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  1. Ranch 99 sells it and also I saw bags of them the other day at the hot sauce shop at the farmers market the one near the grove.

    1. I bought some in Ranch 99 on Victory and Sepulveda. It came in cellophane bags. I have bought them many years before and they look the same.

      1. I'm pretty sure I saw these at the new Penzey's Spices on 4th St. in Santa Monica. They have several kinds of peppercorns available in bags/jars of various sizes.

        4 Replies
        1. re: katydid13

          Also read Dunlop and was curious to try these peppercorns in something besides chili-spiced Chinese. Penzey's has them, but they are only sold in cute tiny glass jars. For large bags, consult the spice master at

          Too bad they're not in LA anymore and you have to special order.

          1. re: tablefor1

            If you're in Silverlake, you're in luck, Silverlakegirl. Just go to any of the big grocery Chinese stores in the San Gabriel Valley and you can get a big bag of them -- maybe 8 or 12 ounces -- for around a dollar.

            Happy cooking. Love that book.

          2. re: katydid13

            Penzeys does have 3 options in small spice jars and one option in a bag ... $18.00!!!

            1. re: SilverlakeGirl

              As I recall, the Penzeys Web site reflects (usual) store availability. They list five sizes:

              Szechuan Peppercorns .4 oz. 1/4 cup jar 56531 2.35
              Szechuan Peppercorns 1 oz. 1/2 cup jar 56557 3.69
              Szechuan Peppercorns 4 oz. bag 56544 5.49
              Szechuan Peppercorns 8 oz. bag 56586 9.95
              Szechuan Peppercorns 1 lb. bag 56515 18.90

          3. Any Chinese market will have them. Their name in Chinese is 花椒 (huajiao, or "flower pepper"), or for English-speaking places, try Penzey's in Santa Monica or Torrance -- cute little jars, perhaps, but the Torrance one has plastic sacks in various sizes.

            A little goes a long way, though -- twelve husks with twelve dried chilies will give an entire wok full of food a VERY powerful 麻辣 (ma la, spicy-and-numbing) flavour.

            1. I've found them, usually in smallish bags but cheap enough to buy several bags, at A-Grocery Warehouse on Sunset in Echo Park. As I live in Silverlake, that's a whole lot closer than even the SG Valley, although I do tend to shop in San Gabriel pretty frequently.

              3 Replies
              1. re: estone888

                Thanks. I'll try the ABC Grocery Warehouse in Echo Park. I'm in there often but had never noticed them.

                I'm curious as to how people managed to heat, grind and sift such a small amount of peppercorns. I have always ground up about a quarter of a bag to get a small amount and keep it sealed in a dark container.

                The whole husk is not used.

                1. re: estone888

                  I was actually just there today and looked for them but couldn't find them. The workers had know idea what they were either... :( maybe they ran out? what isle were they?