HOME > Chowhound > Philadelphia >


Source for Szechuan peppercorns?

I'm addicted. I haven't done much investigating, only checked the local supermarket, Whole Foods, and the Spice Terminal at the RTM. No dice so far. Does anyone know where I can get some good, tongue-numbing Szechuan peppercorns?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Spice Terminal usually has them. Did you ask? They are behind the counter, not pre-bagged

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bigley9

      Of course I did not ask, that would make too much sense! Thanks.

      1. re: Cheesesteak

        NP Cheesesteak - I speak from experience - I did the same thing and then saw them a couple weeks later

    2. Asia Supermarket 143 N. 11th Street has what you need and more. It's a pretty well hidden (in the basement) Asian market right around the corner from RTM

      1 Reply
      1. re: koan

        I buy 'Home Made Szchuan Chili Sauce' from this Asia Supermarket. It has replaced most of the Sriracha sauce in my cooking.

      2. Penzey's also has them (mail order or in Chestnut Hill)

        1 Reply
        1. re: yummykimmy

          I bought a bottle from my local Penzeys and it does not numb my lips....

        2. very likely at one of the chinese markets in Chinatown.. I think there's one on 10th though I get the streets mixed up easily.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bess

            There is several markets in Chinatown. I think you may be thinking about a supermarket on the 11th street. Yeah, it carries Szechuan pepper.

          2. Spice Corner in Italian Market definitely has them as well.

            1 Reply
            1. re: barryg

              Yes, Asia Supermarket has them. Note that sometimes they are labeled as "prickly ash."

            2. I think I've seen them at almost every Asian market I've been to so far. Here is a recent post with market listings in Philadelphia: http://asianmarketsphilly.wordpress.c...

              1. one word of caution while buying sichuan peppercorns--get ones that look red, not black! the darker they are, the more dried out. i learned this the hard way after reading Fucschia Dunlop's Shark Fin and Sichuan Pepper and going to the Asian market at 6th and Washington. i bought the first bag i saw labelled sichuan peppercorns and they didn't have any of the numbing (ma) quality. i went back again, after looking at pictures, and found a bag labelled prickly ash pepper--which is the same thing--that looked redder and fresher and they're much better.

                good luck!

                3 Replies
                1. re: juliachildish

                  <get ones that look red, not black! the darker they are, the more dried out>

                  I think your observation may have to do with species difference rather than process difference (like drying out).

                  For the Big Red Gown Szechuan pepper, the original fruits were red, and the dried out version is also red:



                  However, there are various versions (at leas 5-6 versions) of Szechuan peppercorn.

                  Another one is the Green Szechuan peppercorn:


                  Therefore they don't dry out to the green color:


                  Actually, the green one has a greater numbing effect.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    interesting point! i'm sure you're right about the varieties. the tricky thing in buying at an Asian market where you are looking at packages in foreign languages is trying to figure out whether what you're holding is even in the ballpark of what you want! my guess--and this is borne out by my own experience--is that what you'll find at the big Asian market may not be the highest quality stuff (just like in a western market, right?).. for my money, the red peppercorns were definitely more numbing, though less citrus/floral than the black ones..

                    1. re: juliachildish

                      The large red is considered to be the highest quality (most favorful they said).

                      I find Szechuan peppercorn to be an very interesting spices. I have recently applied sprinkles of the ground Szechuan peppercorn on my salmon and tuna (as opposed to typical black peppercorn). It is an interesting twist. I tried not to put way too much. Just enough to have that hint of tingling/numbing effect.