If you aren’t familiar with Sichuan pepper, I would like to introduce you. This spice is magical, and will add zing and depth to your food like no other.
I used Sichuan peppercorns years ago, when I was making a Chinese dish or recipe, or pepper-salt (which is toasted coarse salt and Sichuan pepper), but then it disappeared for many years and I could no longer find it. It’s back now, and fairly easy to find, especially if you have an Asian grocery store near by. You can also find it on Amazon. It’s very inexpensive, and a must have in your arsenal if you love bold, flavorful food.
So here’s the deal with Sichuan peppercorns. It gives you a pop of flavor, and a little tingly feeling on your tongue. It sounds strange, but trust me when I tell you that a few pitches in your ramen soup, or added to a stir fry, sprinkle onto sautéed tofu (along with nutritional yeast flakes, garlic and freshly ground black pepper), Asian noodle dishes, even on your morning scramble. It adds a delicious depth of flavor to your dishes!
Have you ever had salt and pepper tofu in a Chinese restaurant? Well Sichuan peppercorns are usually part of the seasoning blend. Kung Pow tofu or veggies? The same goes for that dish. I’m telling you, this stuff is magical!
So the actual peppercorns (which aren’t really peppercorns at all), or kind of like hard, small little pods or shells. When you buy them you may notice some thorns in the bag. I pick out the thorns and any little twiggy bits. I then grind up maybe 1/4 cup at a time in my blender (or you can use a spice or clean coffee grinder). I store it in a little jar and then sprinkle it into whatever dishes need a punch of flavor. You can also lightly toast the Sichuan pepper first before grinding.
You’ll want to sprinkle or add the Sichuan pepper at the end of cooking. I usually do the same with nutritional yeast flakes as well. If you’re wondering what flavors blend the best with the Sichuan pepper, it’s garlic, chili, soy sauce or tamari, a little black pepper, ginger, onions… In China they even use it in baked goods.
I’ll try and post a few recipes soon that I use Sichuan pepper in. But until then, two you can try are my 5 Minute Ramen (just add a few pinches at the end) and the Vegan Mos’s Mongolian Soy Curls (again I add a few pinches at the end along with dried chilies). Or just be daring and grind some up, and sprinkle in your Asian-inspired dishes, fried Soy Curls, grilled vegetables, tofu (with granulated garlic and nutritional yeast flakes, yum!), a pinch in marinades, or even a pinch in your vinaigrette. Get daring and be bold! Go for it, and let me know what you use it in.