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Sichuan Peppercorns

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!

  1. l
    lacemaker Aug 11, 2010 03:16 AM

    I've used prickly ash oil from Chinese supermarkets as a fairly effective substitute - you probably loose some of the nuance, but the odd, mouth-numbing sourness is there in full effect, probably better than I've been able to manage with dried peppers.

    2 Replies
    1. re: lacemaker
      deansa Aug 11, 2010 05:19 PM

      Thanks Lacemaker. I am currently trying out a bottle of sichuan pepper oil I found in See Woo. It does seem a bit more powerful than a lot of the peppers I've bought previously!

      1. re: deansa
        a
        afds Aug 12, 2010 10:04 AM

        Another possibility is www.spicesofindia.co.uk, whom I use for Indian food supplies. I haven't tried their Sichuan peppercorns since we get good ones at the local Chinese supermarket, but I found this blog by someone who seems to have done a lot of research and the brand carried by Spices of India gets a thumbs up : http://tokowijzer.wordpress.com/2008/...

    2. h
      Harters Aug 10, 2010 06:27 AM

      I wouldnt know a high quality peppercorn from one that was complete crap. FWIW I buy mine the in Manchester's Chinatown. I'd second zuriga's much earlier general recommendation of Seasoned Pioneers as an online resource.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Harters
        t
        t_g Aug 10, 2010 08:46 AM

        high quality ones have flavor, make yr mouth numb, low quality ones dont.

      2. m
        MonkeyC Jul 20, 2010 09:38 AM

        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...

        2 Replies
        1. re: MonkeyC
          c
          cereal Aug 9, 2010 03:41 PM

          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).

          1. re: cereal
            deansa Aug 11, 2010 05:17 PM

            Thanks, will take a look!

        2. deansa Jul 19, 2010 03:45 PM

          Thanks guys! I'll check out the suggestions. chief1284's comment made me think – next Spring I may also try to grow some in my garden and see if I can get a good supply that way!

          1 Reply
          1. re: deansa
            c
            chief1284 Jul 20, 2010 01:26 AM

            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:

            http://www.fuchsiadunlop.com/the-true...

            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.

          2. c
            chief1284 Jul 18, 2010 03:00 PM

            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!

            2 Replies
            1. re: chief1284
              limster Jul 18, 2010 03:08 PM

              I've had them at No.10 in Earl's Court when it reopened, but it was a while ago.

              1. re: limster
                a
                alexdz Jul 19, 2010 09:21 AM

                http://www.thespiceshop.co.uk/

            2. w
              willpons Jul 18, 2010 02:35 PM

              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.

              http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

              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.

              Good luck.

              1. zuriga1 Jul 18, 2010 02:15 PM

                I don't know if these will be any better, but Seasoned Pioneers has some good products. I've used quite a few of them.

                http://www.seasonedpioneers.co.uk/sea...

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