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Szechwan Peppercorns, recommend a reliable source?

stirland Jan 8, 2014 12:14 AM

Hi all -- just recently discovered Chinese five-spice powder, a component of which is Szechwan peppercorns. Does anyone know of a reliable online spice merchant?

  1. m
    Mr_Happy Jan 8, 2014 12:27 AM

    Whole foods also carries sichuan peppercorns.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Mr_Happy
      stirland Jan 8, 2014 12:41 AM

      Thanks! Looked there this evening at my local one, and didn't see it.

      1. re: stirland
        Mr_Happy Jan 8, 2014 12:53 AM

        Hmm, I have found them at the Oakland store and also the SOMA store in SF. It was in the spice section with the little green boxes.

    2. kclb Jan 8, 2014 02:00 AM

      I've seen them in various Asian markets in the Bay Area, but check out Oaktown Spice Shop if you don't want to go searching for them.


      1. r
        Ridge Jan 8, 2014 02:41 AM

        Be careful since the quality of Sichuan peppercorns varies greatly. Good quality peppercorns should have a citrusy spicy aroma. I have found the ones available at places like 99 Ranch market are completely flavorless. I have a Chinese friend who brings me back good quality peppercorns from China occasionally. Outside of that I have found that the Frontier brand is very high quality (they are also one of the only brands I have found that carries good quality coriander)


        5 Replies
        1. re: Ridge
          JungMann Jan 8, 2014 07:40 AM

          Precisely what Ridge says. I am comfortable doing much of my grocery shopping at Chinese supermarkets, but the quality of their Szechuan peppercorns is generally disappointing. For now I stock up on Szechuan peppercorns at The Spice House or Penzey's, both of whom have consistently quality spices with a strong "má" flavor.

          1. re: JungMann
            MVNYC Jan 8, 2014 09:39 AM

            Jungman, have you found penzeys better than Khalustyans? Those seem to have the most ma I've found in the city including Chinatown.

            1. re: MVNYC
              JungMann Jan 8, 2014 11:53 AM

              I generally try to avoid Kalustyan's mark up when I can so I haven't tried their Szechuan peppercorns. But with my current supply of Spice House peppercorns past their prime, I may just have to bite the bullet. Which peppercorns do you buy? The Frontier or the Kalustyan's brand?

              1. re: JungMann
                Ttrockwood Jan 8, 2014 02:55 PM

                I have really liked the kalustyan's brand, haven't tried the frontier brand. I would say on par with what i've ordered from penzey's.

                1. re: JungMann
                  MVNYC Jan 9, 2014 09:55 AM

                  I but the Kalustyan's brand. They are very fragrant and I think the price is similar to Penzey's. I try to avoid their markups as well but these have been the strongest I have found in Manhattan.

          2. r
            Raffles Jan 8, 2014 09:47 AM

            Try http://www.atlanticspice.com/

            1. AmyH Jan 8, 2014 09:59 AM

              Definitely Penzey's. Great quality, good prices.

              1 Reply
              1. re: AmyH
                Raffles Jan 8, 2014 10:07 AM

                Penzeys is over twice as expensive as


              2. Chemicalkinetics Jan 8, 2014 10:26 AM

                Caroline said she got hers from WorldSpice.


                Sorry, I buy mine locally from Asian supermarkets in Chinatown.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  stirland Jan 8, 2014 11:08 AM

                  Interestingly, World Spice is out of it anyway.

                  I wonder what this spice is called in Cantonese. If I walked into Chinatown, they probably wouldn't know what I'm talking about.

                  1. re: stirland
                    Chemicalkinetics Jan 8, 2014 11:15 AM

                    Yes, I noticed that World Spice is out of it now, but Caroline sworn by it. :) I have no personal experience.

                    <I wonder what this spice is called in Cantonese. If I walked into Chinatown, they probably wouldn't know what I'm talking about.>

                    Do you have an Asian market around then?

                    As long as the person you talk to can understand English, then he/she will know what Szechuan peppercorn is.

                    In Mandarian, you will probably pronounce it as Hua Jiao, and it is pronounced as Fai Ju or Faa Ju in Cantonese.

                    Alternatively, it may be easier to just copy and paste the following characters and give it to the store clerk:

                    花椒 or 川椒

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      stirland Jan 8, 2014 11:19 AM

                      Thank you so much! This is awesome! I can't write Chinese, but Daw Je Si (my horrible transliteration of 'thanks' in Cantonese.)

                2. s
                  stirland Jan 8, 2014 11:05 AM

                  Thanks so much, all. I rechecked Whole Foods, and they do have it. It's just that my husband didn't see it. However, as someone who enjoys cooking, I'm so glad to have learned about all of these sources of spices!

                  1. r
                    Ridge Mar 20, 2014 10:04 AM

                    I just got a huge batch from my friend. Fresh from Sichuan. Smells heavenly. Two different kinds, red and green. The two different kinds are harvested at slightly different stages of development and have slightly different aromatic profiles. Its more than I can use before it goes goes stale. If anyone wants some free of charge and can pick it up in Davis (where I work) or Calistoga (where my husband works) let me know.

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