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What to do with Szechuan peppercorns?

r
Rick Feb 25, 2011 05:12 PM

I bought a small jar of Szechuan peppercorns for my attempts at mapo tofu. I didn't care for the mapo tofu and now don't know what to do with the rest of the peppercorns.

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  1. SilverlakeGirl RE: Rick Feb 25, 2011 05:15 PM

    Did you prep them?

    You have to put them in a hot pan and "toast" them until just short of smoking.

    Then put the peppercorns in the food processor and whirl for a minute.

    Put that into a sieve and shake out the husks. Discard the hard husks in the sieve and use the pungent roasted peppercorn powder that shook from the sieve.

    Does that make sense? :)

    4 Replies
    1. re: SilverlakeGirl
      r
      Rick RE: SilverlakeGirl Feb 25, 2011 05:20 PM

      Hmmm, the penzeys label just says to put them in a pepper mill, i wonder if penzey's already peeps them. After you prep them, what do you cook with them?

      1. re: Rick
        SilverlakeGirl RE: Rick Feb 25, 2011 05:30 PM

        That's strange. The roasting really brings out the flavor. They become Very aromatic. And sieving them yields a nice smooth powder, the tough husks are discarded.

        I must admit I learned this technique from my Chinese cooking instructor, Hugh Carpenter ... about 25 years ago and it has never failed. I use it in any Szechuan recipe calling for Szechuan peppercorns.

        I love Penzey's but I tend to buy my Indian spices in Indian markets, Middle Eastern spices in Middle Eastern markets, Chinese in Chinese markets. So I'm not sure how, or if, Penzey's discards the hard, inedible husks.

        1. re: SilverlakeGirl
          r
          Rick RE: SilverlakeGirl Mar 6, 2011 10:42 AM

          Thanks, I did as you suggested, vast improvement! Put it on some lame Szechuan chicken fro my local suburban Chinese take out place, gave it the heat and flavor it needed.

        2. re: Rick
          s
          smtucker RE: Rick Feb 25, 2011 06:00 PM

          The penzey peppers need to be toasted.

      2. h
        HillJ RE: Rick Feb 25, 2011 07:23 PM

        Encrusted on a nice piece of beef or thick piece of fish and sear to medium well (my preference)
        Add to salad dressing
        Mix with good quality salt and use throughout your menu planning.

        3 Replies
        1. re: HillJ
          chefathome RE: HillJ Feb 26, 2011 09:47 AM

          Like HillJ my favourite use is as a rub along with cacao nibs (ground). I also make a salt blend with whole allspice berries, Sechuan peppercorns, coarse sea salt and pepper (toasted and ground) in my mortar and pestle. But before I use it, I ALWAYS toast it first as I do with nearly all whole spices. You can also infuse oil with the peppercorns.

          Good and simple recipe for green beans:
          http://www.theperfectpantry.com/2010/...

          1. re: chefathome
            h
            HillJ RE: chefathome Feb 26, 2011 10:20 AM

            Sometimes the simply dishes are the most enjoyable; those green beans are right up my alley. I love those uses you're finding for the cacao nibs!

            1. re: HillJ
              chefathome RE: HillJ Feb 26, 2011 10:41 AM

              Cacao nibs in savoury dishes have been a revelation to me! Their slight bitterness goes so well with proteins.

        2. paulj RE: Rick Feb 26, 2011 10:05 AM

          Do you like the peppercorns?

          3 Replies
          1. re: paulj
            r
            Rick RE: paulj Feb 26, 2011 01:47 PM

            It's the first time I've ever had them. I thought they were OK. Doubt I'll be buying a second jar of them . . .

            1. re: Rick
              paulj RE: Rick Feb 26, 2011 02:10 PM

              Here's a blog entry that tries to describe their taste:
              http://youvegottotastethis.myrecipes....
              with an emphasis on a numbing tingling quality. Others talk of a pine like taste.

              also
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sichuan_...

              1. re: paulj
                r
                Rick RE: paulj Feb 26, 2011 02:14 PM

                I definitely got the numbing tingling quality, I will say it was sort of a fun experience, just not something I crave.

          2. chefj RE: Rick Feb 26, 2011 10:17 AM

            They are used in many of Szechuan Dishes. Just pick another one that you would like to try and use them there.

            1. chefj RE: Rick Feb 26, 2011 10:17 AM

              Also
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/735866

              1. scoopG RE: Rick Feb 26, 2011 02:01 PM

                Do you drink?

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/754238

                1. Chemicalkinetics RE: Rick Feb 26, 2011 03:03 PM

                  Useful, but overrated in my opinion.

                  1. pepper_mil RE: Rick Feb 27, 2011 12:00 AM

                    When you toast them and grind them, you can toss them on anything fried, like potato chips. I like to make ma la bacon, coated with pepper and then broiled in the oven. Or you can take fresh pork belly, pack it with salt and while peppercorns (just a few) before grilling. sky's the limit.

                    1. hypomyces RE: Rick Feb 27, 2011 12:25 PM

                      HI Rick, another idea is to make an infused oil with them. Roast them as above, roast some crushed dried chili peppers, heat to warm some canola oil (or any tasteless veg oil), place in a mason jar, cover and leave it to infuse for about a week. Filter. The spiciness of the chili and the numbing effect of the Sichuan is outta this world! I am a spice junkie, so I use 1-2 Tbsp Sichuan pepper and 5 crushed dried chilies for 1 1/2 cups of oil. It is a fairly versitile oil. Finish off a stir-fry, with and asian style soup, over grilled fish. I even eat it with a soft poached egg, scallion and cracked pepper on toast for breakfast.
                      If you ever buy BBQ duck in a chinese market, keep the bones, add 3 big slices of ginger, 2 garlic cloves, 2 scallions, and 1tsp roasted Sichuan pepper, some soy sauce, salt and a pinch of sugar. Cover with water and simmer on low about 1 hr. It makes a great broth for wonton or noodle soup

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: hypomyces
                        j
                        Joebob RE: hypomyces Feb 27, 2011 01:05 PM

                        Really like your ideas!

                      2. c
                        cigarmedic4 RE: Rick Feb 27, 2011 01:08 PM

                        I add them to the brine when brining chicken or pork.

                        1. a
                          Alica RE: Rick Mar 6, 2011 04:17 PM

                          Would you say they are spicy?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Alica
                            paulj RE: Alica Mar 6, 2011 04:50 PM

                            They are not hot in the chile sense.

                            1. re: Alica
                              hypomyces RE: Alica Mar 6, 2011 05:06 PM

                              I'm not Chinese, but I love the cuisine. In the Sichuan region of China, the peppercorns, which are numbing, are mixed with chilies, which are hot to create a taste that the Sichuanese call 'mala'
                              麻辣-numb, peppery(pungent, hot)
                              The peppercorns numbs the tounge, which allows one to taste the burning chilie, all the while reducing the chilie's effect. Pure bliss.
                              I am a sichuan peppercorn addict

                              1. re: Alica
                                Chemicalkinetics RE: Alica Mar 6, 2011 05:41 PM

                                I agree. They are not spicy in a normal sense. There is a numbing effect on your tongue too.

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