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Jul 13, 2012 04:58 PM

Pickled Sichuan Peppers [split from General Topics Sichuan Pepper thread]

One last "hard to find" ingredient, pickled Sichuan peppers: Years ago in San Francisco (c.1972) Henry Chung gave me his own recipe for preserving chilis that he used in his Hunan Chinese restaurant. I have used it ever since because honestly I have never in all of this time and travel been able to find a commercial product that even comes close. They are very easy to make and you can find a similar recipe online at:

Please give it a try and I don't think you will ever want to resume the hunt for a store-bought variety. The flavor profile of the "pickling" ingredients overrides the flavor of whatever mild to medium fresh pepper you decide to use and the "mouthfeel" is just as important. These attributes are impossible to find in a canned/homogenized product from China. All the Best,

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  1. Many thanks for recipe link. Any ideas whether splitting the chilis so I can seed and vein them before pickling affects the quality/longevity of the end product under refrigeration? (My last attempt to pickle seeded/deveined chilis resulted, after some months under refrigeration, in a uselessly-mushy product.)

    1. NB: Though pickled chilis are essential to Hunanese cuisine, they don't seem to turn up in any recipes I've seen for Sichuanese dishes...

      1. Thanks for the link - I've saved the recipe since I grow a lot of chili peppers & also have a good supply of Szechuan peppercorns on hand. However, I do take exception to the brine & instructions for this, as the brine isn't even close to being safe acidity-wise for canning peppers (especially in leftover commercial jars) & leaving them out on the counter. I'd consider these refrigerator pickles ONLY, & would try to use them asap. Or modify the brine to approximate proper & safe acidity proportions by following a standard safe pickled pepper recipe from a reputable source.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Bacardi1

          The brine for the "refrigerator pickle" recipe that I last used for pickling chilis was a Korean water-kimchi recipe from Saveur ( I just eliminated all the vegetable ingredients except chilis - which, again, disappointed me after several months in the fridge. I expect that any pickled pepper recipe which involved hot brine or canning also would fail my "crispness test".

            1. re: Bacardi1

              True enough - but I'm not interested in canning, only in making "refrigerator" pickles, e.g., kimchi.