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Szechuan pepper

Szechuan peppercorn (Xanthoxylum piperitum) is not a member of the pepper family. It is the outer pod of the tiny fruit of a plant related to prickly ash. It is known in Chinese as (山椒) Shan jiao or (花椒) faa jiu, in Japanese as (山椒) sansho and in Tibetan as emma. Tibetans believe it can sanitize meat that may not be so fresh.

The taste of Szechuan peppercorns is not hot like black or red pepper, but is a kind of tingly numbness that sets the stage for these hot spices. Recipes often suggest to lightly toast and then crush the tiny seedpods before adding them to food.

Szechuan peppercorns are one of the traditional ingredients in the Chinese spice mixture five spice powder.

Classification: Rutaceae (citrus) family.

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