Sichuan Pepper

Sichuan Pepper

Sichuan Pepper

One of the spices that make Indonesian cuisine so delicious is  Sichuan Pepper, also known as AndalimanSichuan Pepper is a typical Asian spice that comes from the outer skin of several types of plants belonging to the genus Zanthoxylum (the orange-jerking tribe, Rutaceae). This spice in Indonesia is only known for Batak cuisine (local people), so it is known to people outside this area as “Batak pepper”.


In America, names such as “Szechwan pepper”, “Chinese pepper”, “Japanese pepper”, “aniseed pepper”, “sprice pepper”, “Chinese prickly-ash”, “fagara,” “sansho”, “Nepal pepper”, “Indonesian lemon pepper”, and others are used, sometimes referring to specific species within this group, since this plant is not well known enough in the West to have an established name.

Some brands also use the English description “dehydrated prickly ash”, since the Sichuan pepper and Japanese sansho are from related plants that are sometimes called prickly ash because of their thorns (though purveyors in the US do sell native prickly ash species (Z. americanum) because it is recognized as a folk remedy. In Kachin State of Myanmar, the Jinghpaw people widely use it in traditional cuisine. It is known as ma chyang among them. Its leaves are served as one of ingredients in cooking soups.

In Korean cuisine, two species are used: Z. piperitum and Z. Schinifolium. Sichuan pepper’s unique aroma and flavour is not hot or pungent like black, white, or chili peppers. Instead, it has slight lemony overtones and creates a tingly numbness in the mouth (caused by its 3% of hydroxy alpha sanshool) that sets the stage for hot spices. 

According to Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking, they are not simply pungent; “they produce a strange, tingling, buzzing, numbing sensation that is something like the effect of carbonated drinks or of a mild electric current (touching the terminals of a nine-volt battery to the tongue). Sanshools appear to act on several different kinds of nerve endings at once, induce sensitivity to touch and cold in nerves that are ordinarily nonsensitive, and so perhaps cause a kind of general neurological confusion.”

Uses of Sichuan Pepper

Recipes often suggest lightly toasting the tiny seed pods, then crushing them before adding them to food. Only the husks are used; the shiny black seeds are discarded or ignored as they have a very gritty, sand-like texture. The spice is generally added at the last moment. Star aniseand ginger are often used with it in spicy Sichuan cuisine. It has an alkaline pH and a numbing effect on the lips when eaten in larger doses. 

Ma la sauce (Chinese; pinyin: málà; literally “numbing and spicy”), common in Sichuan cooking, is a combination of Sichuan pepper and chili pepper, and it is a key ingredient in má là hot pot, the Sichuan version of the traditional Chinese dish. It is also a common flavouring in Sichuan baked goods such as sweetened cakes and biscuits. Beijing microbrewery Great Leap Brewing uses Sichuan peppercorns, offset by honey, as a flavouring adjunct in its Honey Ma Blonde.

Andaliman has a soft orange aroma but “biting” so causing a sensation of numbness or numbness on the tongue, although not as spicy as chili or pepper. This tongue-tied taste is caused by the presence of hydroxy-alpha-sanshool in the spice. Apart from the cuisine, the use of Andaliman as a cooking spice is also known in East Asian and South Asian cuisine. Sichuan Pepper is also one of the main ingredients in making special Batak chilli sauce, such as sambal na tinombur, tuktuk sambal and andaliman sambal. Because of its spicy and prominent taste, Andaliman’s use in cooking must be in the right portion. If it is excessive, then this spice will damage the original flavor of the cuisine.

There are several culinary specialties of the Batak that are famous for Sichuan Pepper flavors, such as the Arsik Gurame, Saksang, Gomak Noodles, Parrot Fish Naniura, and Chicken Pinadar. The cuisine requires andaliman as an irreplaceable spice.

Dried Sichuan Pepper

Sichuan Pepper
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