What Is Sichuan Peppercorn (花椒) and Where Can I Buy It?

Have you ever experienced an unusual, mouth-numbing, and yet flavorful sensation while eating hotpot or enjoying mapo ...

Have you ever experienced an unusual, mouth-numbing, and yet flavorful sensation while eating hotpot or enjoying mapo tofu or mala xiang guo? Such a unique experience begs the question — what ingredient provokes this feeling? It’s Sichuan peppercorn!


(Photo by Peijia Li on Unsplash)

Origins of Sichuan Peppercorn

Sichuan peppercorn is an increasingly popular ingredient in dishes around the world. Its origins in the Sichuan province of western China have brought an abundance of dishes into the world including favorites like mapo tofu and mala xiang guo. Today, Sichuan peppercorn has made its way into Western dishes at restaurants across the globe. Anyone can find and buy Sichuan peppercorns at specialty markets and integrate them into recipes at home too.

This spice comes from the husks of an ash tree. Sometimes called prickly ash, this tree produces black seeds inside a pinkish-reddish husk. The black seeds have a grainy consistency that can ruin the flavour and texture of culinary dishes, so this part is discarded. Instead, you would want to go for the husk. The husk is sifted and separated from the inner seed and typically ground to create the ingredient that provides the flavour profile of Sichuan peppercorn. The spice can be used as a whole husk, flaked or powdered, and infused into oil as in Sichuan chili oil.

Sichuan Peppercorn Flavour

This spice produces a truly unique flavour. Whether the purveyor bites into a crunchy flake or eats noodles seasoned with ground Sichuan peppercorn powder, they most often experience a subtle spice on the palette followed quickly by a numbing sensation, sometimes described as a feeling of vibration on the lips and tongue, called paraesthesia or má (麻). The sensation dulls the spiciness of the bite and enhances the overall experience of the dish.

The combination of a hot or burning sensation with a numbing impression is a specific flavour called málà (麻辣) that is created when Sichuan peppercorns are used with peppery ingredients like chili peppers. The proper blending of chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns in culinary dishes produces sweating and then offers a cooling effect. This taste is a characteristic of Sichuan cuisine and much to one's' surprise, is actually particularly soothing in hot climates.


Nutritional Benefits of Sichuan Peppercorn

Beyond its temperature-regulating qualities, Sichuan peppercorn has an array of other nourishing qualities. Sichuan peppercorn is usually added to dishes in very small amounts, so the nutritional benefits in an individual serving tend to be quite small. However, this spice has a history of medicinal uses. 

Traditionally, the seed husk from this prickly ash tree has been used to support the immune system, reduce inflammation, support heart health and blood circulation, and ease pain. It contains Vitamin A, thiamin, potassium, zinc, and other vitamins and minerals. The pepper also has essential oils and antioxidant qualities. It’s also one of the ingredients in a popular seasoning - five-spice mixture, which is used in food preparation with health and nutritional benefits in mind. You can see that Sichuan peppercorns contribute in many ways to overall health and balance of mind and body.

Buy Sichuan Peppercorns

If you are looking to buy Sichuan peppercorns for home use or wholesale, we have a range of options we’ll suggest for you. For typical consumers, online stores like Shopee, Lazada, and Amazon have varied options for you to source this delicious spice.

In Singapore, you can find Sichuan peppercorn at local supermarkets such as NTUC Fairprice and Sheng Shiong; around the world, you can often find Sichuan peppercorn at local Asian markets.

For wholesalers, Trustana provides excellent Sichuan peppercorn sourcing. We work directly with farms and factory suppliers to export the best quality Sichuan peppercorn from Chongqing, where they have been exporting to the U.S. Through direct sourcing at Trustana, you can be sure that you are getting an optimal quality spice at an excellent price for you.

Are you ready to buy Sichuan peppercorns for yourself? Connect with us at Trustana to learn more about your options today.

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