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Apr 28, 2010 10:19 AM

Where to find Szechuan peppercorns?

My spelling may be incorrect, but it is a very common spice used in Asian cooking. I just can't seem to find this spice and I'm not sure why because it is such a widely used spice. I have checked T&T and some other asian stores but have had no luck. I live in Richmond Hill and I'm sure that someone on this board can help me with this!

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  1. I haven't found them either (I tried Kensington and SLM and T & T and Chinatown) but bought some overseas (pricey). But!

    You can order them here:

    and here:

    Looks like they were banned in the U.S. until recently, maybe that effected their sale here?

    2 Replies
    1. re: albanis

      They also go by the following name: prickly ash. Every one of my Asian grocers in Windsor carries them. I suspect T&T does carry them, only possibly under this second name. SLM may or may not carry them, but you'll definitely have success in any Chinatown.

      This came from Wikipedia: "Sichuan pepper is known in Chinese as huājiāo (花椒; literally "flower pepper"). A lesser-used name is shānjiāo (山椒; literally "mountain pepper")". Ask someone in the store and have these names handy.

      1. re: 1sweetpea

        Prickly ash!!!! Yes! I saw those at Bayview Mart and thought they looked an awful lot like them. I had no idea they are the same thing. Thank you both for your quick replies!

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. They're everywhere. Check online pix if you're unsure what to look for. No need to order outside Canada. Silk Road's prices are downright predatory.

        1. I found them in Chinatown at one of the grocery stores at around 310 Spadina. It's the one where you have to go down a few stairs to go to the store. Outside has fruits and veggies. It's in the aisle of dried goods and you need to really know what it looks like because the packaging isn't in English. Look for little peppercorn shapes with stems. It came in a bag and I think it was around 1.99 or something like that.

          4 Replies
          1. re: angelau2

            I was just thinking that. I buy agar agr from that 310 Spadina place but the package isn't in english, I will memorize the buds next time. I spent kind of a lot on the ones I got.

            I wouldn't say they numb your taste buds but it definitely covers the palate in a different way. It's pretty essential in a lot of dishes as well.

            1. re: albanis

              albanis - I've been looking at a lot of places for inexpensive agar agar powder. I've found the bars and strips in Chinatown, but was the type you got powdered by any chance, and if so, do you remember how much it cost? Thanks!

              1. re: procrastinasian

                Oops, did I respond to this? The agar agar comes in powder form in an envelope with an elephant on it and some writing, maybe Thai? It's $1.29 and in that store on the west side of Spadina, just north of Dundas, down the stairs. It's sandwiched between two fruit stores and is the easiest to use I find.

                I think this came up too but the szechaun peppercorns I find are usually called prickly ash or something like that. So much cheaper than the online versions.

                1. re: albanis

                  Thanks! I found some in Little India a couple months ago for about the same price.

                  Little India
                  255 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V1Z4, CA

          2. You can get these at Sunny Market at Leslie and Finch.

            I don't get it though - what is the point of a spice that numbs your mouth (see: taste buds)?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Sadistick

              There's definitely flavour to them as well as the numbing sensation. I used a small amount, along with a bunch of other spices, in a recipe and the flavour was distinct, but understated. There wasn't enough to numb the senses. Needless to say, it wasn't a Sichuan recipe. The flavour is a bit floral. In large quantities, as I experienced in Chengdu, my lips and tongue went numb and my pulse sped up a bit (maybe an adrenaline rush?), but the pulse increase may have had as much to do with the chiles and chile oil as with the Sichuan pepper.

              1. re: Sadistick

                I'm not sure if you are aware or not but cloves have the same effect. In fact. clove oil is a major ingredient in OTC dental treatments for toothache pain.

                Because something is 'numbing' does not mean it can't be used for flavoring.

                It is a spice and not a main ingredient.

                Most herbs and spices have adverse effects when taken in quantity but they are not meant to be taken in quantity. They are used to season dishes.

                Have you seen the cinnamon challenge where people online attempt to hold a tablespoon of cinnamon in their mouths?