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where to find GOOD QUALITY sichuan/szechuan/szechwan peppercorns?

I've been cooking w/ a brand from a local chinese market in D.C., Its the only brand I've seen, but they don't tingle and numb like you'd expect though. F. Dunlop's, "Land of Plenty," makes a point of noting that most brands at the market are terrible, and good peppercorns are hard to find.

Anyone know of a really dependable/outstanding brand?

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  1. I've had better luck getting that numbing feeling using Szechuan peppercorn oil. I wouldn't automatically dismiss all storebought peppercorn though, the rules for importing them have changed since LoP was published.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Pei

      I have looked for the oil many times at different Chinese markets without any success (I am in Washington DC area). I have tried asking the employees but have trouble getting anyone who seems to understand what I am trying to find. What am I doing wrong?

      Any help would be appreciated!

      1. re: Pei

        I have just purchased my first bottle of Szechuan Pepper oil this weekend. I used it to enhance the numbing in Fuschia Dunlops Crispy Spicy Shrimp with Salt and Szechuan Pepper. The thing about Szechuan Pepper is they lose their potency pretty quickly, so I buy them in small quantities. My Asian Market has several brands at different price points , none of which is high. I always buy the brand that looks more Red in color, and that has the latest Best when used by date. I also vacuum seal them in a Foodsaver jar.

         
      2. I don't specifically know a brand, but I do suggest you buy them from a reputable spice house, like www.penzeys.com , www.thespicehouse.com or www.worldspice.com which has sichuan peppercorns for $2 per oz, which is about 1/2 cup of peppercorns. I find that spices from dedicated spice purveyors who stake their reputation on their merchandise, rather than a local Chinese markets (which are very good for many things, don't get me wrong) are a much better bet. Prices vary slightly from company to company.

        I routinely get my spices from thespicehouse, wonderful customer service and quality products, just my opinion.

        The difference in peppercorns consumed in China and imported into the US is that they have to be pasteurized before import now, and that has effected the flavor to a degree, according to some users. I haven't noticed any change.

        http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...
        http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/s...
        http://www.worldspice.com/spices/0167...

        Amazon carries them also: http://www.amazon.com/JR-Mushrooms-Sp...

        Here's a brand review link-what brands to avoid:

        http://kokrobin.wordpress.com/2008/04...

        3 Replies
        1. re: bushwickgirl

          I get mine from World Spice at the URL you give and I'm very pleased with them. I don't order Szechuan peppercorns in large amounts and I have noticed a small difference between shipments, but I'm confident that is a seasonal/pasturization difference. Nothing in nature is absolutely the same from pepper berry to pepper berry. I find World Spice has exceptional quality for the price as well as carrying things I can't find anywhere else..

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            Have you tried Penzey's? I routinely purchase my Szechuan peppercorns at Chinese grocers, but the flavor just seems so dull even after I roast my spices. And I don't think I have been able to achieve any numbing with any of the brands I have purchased.

            1. re: JungMann

              No, but I would have no problem purchasing spices from them. Many posters swear by Penzeys. My decision not to buy from them was purely financial; Penzeys is more expensive than The Spice House.

              There is a Penzey's at Grand Central, btw; you probably know.

          2. Haven't ever purchased these from Penzey's, but everything else they've ever sold me was top quality: http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

            3 Replies
            1. re: Indirect Heat

              I listed that link also for the OP. I wonder how many cups to a lb. of peppercorns; it looks like it might be around 8 cups, could last a looong time. Fun!

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                Depends on the peppercorns. Szichuan peppers aren't really a hard "pepper corn" like Tellecherry, but still have the outer covering (or whatever) on so they pack kind of fluffy. When it comes to volume, an ounce of whole Szichuan pepper is about twice as much volume as an ounce of whole Tellecherry pepper, but they both work fine in a pepper mill.

                1. re: Caroline1

                  I was speaking about the sichuan peppercorns only. I based my 8 cup estimate on the quoted 1/2 cup per oz website purchase amount.

                  I've been meaning to try World Spice, after reading some favorable reviews; this give me even more reason to buy from them. Thanks!