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jhlurie

Sichuan Peppercorn

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i think it may be more interesting/revealing to look at the patterns of immigration in los angeles' san gabriel valley--the home of, as far as i know, the largest population of expatriate chinese outside the u.s, and definitely the most varied and best chinese restaurants.

I'm glad someone else besides me understands that "The Valley" is not part of the US.

ha ha --i mean oops, what a giveaway!

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Dear bivs99, Ben Hong, Gary

Thanks so much for your kind words!

We'll say anything to get you back here, Fuchsia! Lord knows this forum needs some energizing.

I unerstand what you are saying about Hunan vs. Sichuan cuisine. My point was that when the "Four Cuisines" are meant to be all-encompassing, the two get lumped together for the reason you mentioned. I also would never say that Hunan cuisine was the more prestigious of the two. If I were being judgemental, I'd say that the contrary was true. I'm aware of the variety and complexity of Sichuan cuisine, and note that Hunan cuisine, at least as featured here in the US, tends to be more single-mindedly focused on delivering heat above all. I'd like to learn more about the cuisine of the Hunan-Yunnan border region, though.

For what it's worth, Hunan's and Sichuan's borders no longer touch, technically speaking, since Chongqing became a municipality. Maybe we should talk about a Hunan/Chongqing cuisine, or would that just muddy the waters more?

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In NYC's Chinatown today, I was browsing through Kam Man on Canal St. In the downstairs section, I just happened to see Sichuan Peppercorns! It surprised the heck out of me. The package was plain, sealed, and with 2.50 written in black marker ---weighing 1/4 pound. (there were lots of them) I asked a floor clerk and manager about them, but they didn't speak much English, so in my poor Chinese I understood that they were from China and were real Sichuan peppercorns. I couldn't make 'heat-treated' understood.

I bought a package and as soon as I got in the car, I opened them and immediately I could get strong aroma. I chewed on a few and what a numbing and tingle!!!! The strongest I've ever had from Sichuan Pepper. The sensation lasted from Elizabeth St, down Canal and well beyond the Holland Tunnel -- in heavy traffic! When I got home, I opened a jar of old ones and there was nothing like the ones I just bought. No aroma - not too much flavor.

The one thing I did notice was a salty taste, and I don't think it was just imagination.

Tomorrow, I want to taste/check the new ones with those I bought from E-bay and the CMC company, and are in my freezer. And---- do the jhlurie water taste test.

Also, I want to check if Kam Man in NJ. has them.

I'll be ba-aa-ck!

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I did a taste test with other Sichuan pappercorns that I have on hand:

On my Chinese shelves, in a closed jar, the numbness/tingle was very mild.

In the freezer, I have packages from both E-Bay and the CMC company. They had much more bite than the shelf one, but both were about the same. They were good, and I still have some numbness, after 10 minutes, from the e-bay supply -------BUT nothing like the supply I got yesterday at Kam Man!

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I rest my case. :-)

All the best,

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I'm not sure what Ian's case was, but if in fact they were new crop "legal" stock, your experience would bolster my theory that the heat-treament process (which doesn't seem particlarly drastic) is less debilitating to the peppercorns than long or sub-optimal storage.

As I recall it, the required treatment is 140 degrees for 10 minutes. I can imagine peppercorns sitting in a bin in a Chengdu market ALL DAY at ambient temperatures around 100 degrees in the summer, so I think a little perspective is in order.

There's been reports, BTW, of them suddenly reappearing lately in other places, like the 99 Ranch Market chain in California, so I suspect that the treated ones are finally showing up (the new regs took effect in January).

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I emailed CMC to ask whether the Sichuan peppercorns they sell have been heat-treated. They didn't know about that, but they attribute the freshness to the fact that their current supply arrives vacuum-packed, unlike the ones from other suppliers.

Maybe the net result of (possible) heat-treating plus proper handling adds up to an overall superior product. All I know is that the pepper I got from CMC is fresher than anything I've found at the Asian market in Cleveland.

I was in San Francisco in April - traipsed up and down Stockton searching for Sichuan pepper to no avail. I hope that Gary's right about the new supply beginning to show up....

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i8978.jpg

This a product that China 46, the local NJ eGullet favorite Chinese restaurant is using to enhance their Sichuan dishes -- Sichuan Peppercorn Oil. I tried it, and it is very pungent -- and apparenty its totally legal to bring into the country.

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Isn't that interesting, Jason. They give you any idea as to where they buy it?

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Isn't that interesting, Jason. They give you any idea as to where they buy it?

I was told it could be found at Chinese supermarkets now.

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Isn't that interesting, Jason.  They give you any idea as to where they buy it?

I was told it could be found at Chinese supermarkets now.

Great! I plan on getting a bottle! Thanks for showing the picture.

About the 'heat treated' pepper now being available --------wouldn't they be in packages that have the brand and other information on it? Like what is in the package, it's source and weight? The package I bought in NYC was sealed, but absolutely blank except for the price written in magic marker. Not even the name of what was in the package.

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Are Sichuan peppercorns now easily available in a heat-treated form? There was some talk of this up-thread. I had a co-worker pick up a bag for me in the Flushing chinatown and she was able to score. The guy in the store, apparently, had to get them from the back room and he said they were illegal.

I have a 1 lb. bag. This is more than I could possbily use in a reasonable amount of time. Does anyone want any? I'd be happy to meet outside Rockefeller Center during business hours. They're free.

Now that I have them, I'm not sure what to do with them. I read this thread, obviously, but am still not sure what to try. What does one do with the oil?

Last night I toasted some, ground them, and rubbed on pork chops with salt. It was interesting, but overpowering. I used about 1 1/2 teaspoons (ground) on four small chops.

Anyone have any suggestions?

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iain, sichuan peppercorn is one of the ingredients in chinese 5 spice. make a batch of that for starters, and rub it on anything that makes you happy.

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One of major distributor for Sichuan Peppercorn is called “Lion Pavilion Food Trading” or Shi Zi Lou food Trading

Ms. Jo-Mel please check the bag, I guess its says狮子楼, right?

Lion Pavilion 狮子楼 used to have its own restaurant at a federal office building in the cross Queens Blvd meets Union Turnpike. After 911, the customers can’t take the security check, and it direct caused it out of business.

But they still have the trading company, the telephone: 011 (86) 28 473 8893. They were the wholesaler for the bottle of Sichuan Peppercorn oil.

http://www.bwszl.com/sp.htm


Edited by Qing (log)

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I picked up some Szechuan peppercorns from CMC (or CDC, or whatever it is, can't remember). I'd never experienced them before, so I used the instructions that Ms. Dunlop listed in her book (take one or two, chew for 15 seconds or so, spit) . Very cool. The tongue was somewhat numb, but the most notable effect was that it felt like bees were buzzing on my lips for about 15 minutes. They tickle. Heath got a dud the first time around, but the second one he tried was active. So, 2 out of 3 peppercorns were alive. Pretty good ratio for something that's difficult to get at all.

I'm guessing tian tsin peppers would be acceptable in these dishes?? ...I'm about to place an order from Penzey's and am about to throw some of those in the cart.

Cannot wait to get my BlueStar range. I can't cook a damned grilled cheese on the range that's in the house we just bought (It's a 26 inch wide drop in Whirpool from about 1985 with only one large burner), much less a stir fry. I want to get started on working my way through Land of Plenty!

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In some thread in this forum, Ms. Dunlop also suggests using the red crushed pepper for making kimchi as a good substitute for sky facing chillies for getting that nice red colored oil in the dishes she writes about in her book.

regards,

trillium

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thought of this thread when i was in fresno last week working on a story. there in a hmong market, locally grown sichuan peppercorns: fresh and dried, packed with leaves and without (a hmong friend says they rub aching joints with the leaves to relieve arthritis).

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thought of this thread when i was in fresno last week working on a story. there in a hmong market, locally grown sichuan peppercorns: fresh and dried, packed with leaves and without

Is there a possible mail order source for us for whom this is not quite "local"? :hmmm:

Edit addition:

As I continued to think about this, these peppercorns would NOT subject to ANY restrictions whatsoever since they are being grown in the US!! Where is an entrepreneur who wants to start a new business supplying eGullet members with this essential ingredient? :wink:


Edited by Vince (log)

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I may have located a source for Sichuan peppercorns - Buffalo Creek Spices. They sell spices in relatively large bulk volumes (pound), and they have the following:

PepperCorns

Whole, Sichuan-Sold by the pound

for $8.01/pound. Shipping is a reasonable $4.00.

Has anyone tried this source??

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In terms of bringing them in yourself, I imagine that the ruling is sufficiently obscure that you could plead ignorance if you got caught (not like me getting hit with a $50 fine for bringing in a piece of Jinhua ham from China).

I recently brought back some of the peppercorns and, fortunately, had no problem getting through customs. I had them in 2 bags (not including the bag they came in) and there was still a faint scent. I also brought back some of the McCormicks ground sichuan peppercorns which I really like to use sometimes because it adds a good kick without the incredible numbness when biting the real thing.

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The latest edition of John Thorne's peerless culinary journal, Simple Cooking discusses the US ban and lists another source for Sichuan Peppercorn: Seasoned Pioneers Ltd.

(If you don't already subscribe, follow the first link above and send John some money right away. You won't regret it.)

~Anita

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Just got my shipment from CMC (see contact info upthread). They arrived without incident and they are quite potent. $5.95 for 2oz, plus shipping.

My thung ith veddy numpth.

~Anita


Edited by ScorchedPalate (log)

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Sichuan peppercorn is still in most of Chinese Food market, actually. The problem is whether the boss want to sell it to you or not, for it is still illegal. On the skin of the peppercorn contents a kind of insects’ egg, and it could damage all of the orange plants. According to the Department of Agriculture, US prohibit import any Sichuan peppercorn from China and Japan so on.

I am a Chinese, so when I ask the people who works in Chinese food market privately, they used to sell me at cheaper price than you got from the CMC.

Two month ago, I got 1 oz. of Sichuan peppercorn for 5.95 in the Grand Central Food Market. There is a little shop for all kind of spices, and they hide it somewhere in back. There was mentioned by Florence Fabricant on the NY Times few years ago. You should convince them it just for your cooking, and won’t bring them any trouble. I think the location would be more convenient for most of you guys.

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Two month ago, I got 1 oz. of Sichuan peppercorn for 5.95 in the Grand Central Food Market.  There is a little shop for all kind of spices, and they hide it somewhere in back. There was mentioned by Florence Fabricant on the NY Times few years ago. You should convince them it just for your cooking, and won’t bring them any trouble. I think the location would be more convenient for most of you guys.

At $5.95/oz., I guess it's worth the risk.

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