- deansa Jul 18, 2010 02:02 PM
I'm trying to find a good source of high quality, fresh Sichuan peppercorns in the UK. Does anyone have any suggestions for a supplier? I got a pack from Chinatown in London (pretty weak) and a jar of Barts from Waitrose (not hugely better.)
I read on another board that you can get great ones packed in oil that travel well, though I haven't seen any of these in Chinatown. Any ideas welcome!
I recently was also searching for the Szechuan Peppercorns in Portland. OR after a new small restaurant here (Lucky Strike) informed me that it was the numbing, distinctive tasting "kernel" that was adding the heat to several of their dishes.
I did find them at Penzey's, both a local store and on-line.
The nice thing with Penzey's they offer several different size put-ups, so it it easy to try their offerings inexpensively.
I have liked the quality and the freshness of the Prenzey's products, and the Szechuan peppercorns fall into line. They also offer a Scechuan Pepper Salt grind that I picked up and have enjoyed.
I must admit I haven't searched extensively, but I've never had that real drug like tingling anywhere but China - restaurant or store bought. They may well exist, but if even Chinese restaurants aren't finding them, I doubt they're existence on these shores.
By the by, I've had some wild ones straight off a tree before - explosive!
That really probably is a great idea. They don't need warm climes at all as far as I'm aware. The only thing is, I've only seen them as a whole bush-like tree rather than a nice small pot-plant. Don't know how big it will need to get for any sort of proper yield.
Oh and by the way I just read this on Fuschia Dunlop's blog:
Some people in the comments section talk about where to find the good stuff. Nothing jumps out as a super reliable source to me though.
Spice Mountain at Borough Market sells Sichuan peppercorns. Unfortunately, they sell them in little tiny packages (30g) which are really insufficient for any regular use. We have been trying to do a systematic survey of Chinatown suppliers. Recently, New Loon Moon Supermarket on Gerrard St (the one with the new 1st floor) had some that were not bad...
Tawana Thai Market in Chepstow Road (just north of Westbourne Grove in W2) has reliably good quality Szechuan pepper, and it's cheap, in decent sized sacks. (Or if you prefer, you could find the same stuff, but several weeks or months aged, in tiny sacks one tenth the size for several times the price at the Spice Shop on in Portobello Road..if you are mad.) Probably nothing over here is as strong as in China, but Tawana do well and have good turnover, so they are pretty fresh. They also fly in vegetables twice a week from Thailand, and sometimes the owner brings back stuff herself, like Keffir limes, which are otherwise nearly impossible to find in London for some reason (import restriction, I believe).