Szechuan pepper, Szechwan pepper, Sichuan Pepper, or Winged Prickly Ash is a unique spice that’s commonly used in Chinese cuisine and one of the five prominent spices that makes up the famous Chinese Five Spice mix. In India, Szechuan pepper is mostly used in Indo-Chinese cuisine. Triphala is the name for Szechuan pepper in Hindi.
A Unique Spice
Spices are all unique in terms of their flavour but Szechuan pepper takes things up a notch. Szechuan pepper, (that’s how its most popularly spelt) is a spice not only for the tastebuds but for the senses as well. It has tongue numbing properties that can be used to an advantage especially when mixed with spicy food. This unique spice is also packed with health benefits too!
How Do You Use Szechuan Peppercorns?
Many home cooks might be scared by the prospect of incorporating a mouth-numbing ingredient into their cooking, but it really works wonders and adds a whole new element to dishes especially chutneys and spicy curries. These dishes aren’t difficult or complicated, and they have just the right kick of flavour! From some fried rice to the recipes, I’m going to share below, Szechuan Pepper can be used to flavour all kinds of food!
Non-medicinal Uses of Winged Prickly Ash or Szechuan Pepper
Medicine and food are not the only areas of use for Jaiur (that’s what Szechuan pepper is known as in Khasi). The essential and volatile oils find wide uses in the perfume and hygiene products industry. The capability to dissolve oils and citrusy fragrance makes it ideal as compounds in cleaning solvents and scents.
Some important uses are:
- As a botanical insecticide.
- As natural air-freshener
- In hand cleansers and aftershave lotions
- In soaps, detergents and shampoos
How to Use Szechuan Pepper in The Kitchen
Szechuan pepper can make for an amazing ingredient to add a whole new level of flavour and depth to your dishes. It provides a unique taste which no other spice can substitute. Dishes flavoured with Szechuan pepper take on a new identity and make for an unforgettable experience on the palate.
Here are some easy recipes you can try out in your kitchen using Szechuan pepper –
1. Szechuan Pepper Tomato Chutney
This is a simple recipe that works well as a really nice and flavourful side dish. You can have it with rice, chapatis, and even momos.
You Will Need:
- 1 tomato
- 1 red onion
- 5 – 6 chillies (adjust according to your own taste)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
How To Make The Recipe:
- First, take the tomato and roast it over a flame till the inside is thoroughly cooked
- Peel the tomato once it has cooled and keep it aside
- Using a mortar and pestle, grind the ginger and garlic to a fine paste
- Dice the onion and grind it along with the ginger and garlic paste
- Take the chillies and roast them for a few minutes over an open flame
- Mash the chillies coarsely in the mortar and pestle along with the other ingredients
- Add the Szechuan peppercorns and grind them finely
- Finally, grind the tomato along with the rest of the ingredients into a fine paste.
- Add the garam masala and salt to the paste and mix well.
- Your Szechuan pepper tomato chutney is now ready!
2. Szechuan Chicken Curry
Next, we have a flavourful chicken curry comprising of Szechuan pepper. This delectable main course will definitely stand out as the star of your dinner table. Fragrant and aromatic, the Chinese Szechuan peppercorns lend an element of depth to the familiar flavours of Indian chicken curry.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 onions finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons ginger- garlic paste
- 2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns fresh or dried (coarsely ground)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 large tomato diced
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ kg chicken
- Salt to taste
How to Make the Recipe:
- Take a wok or frying pan and heat the oil.
- Once the oil is heated, fry the onions till golden brown.
- Next, add in the tomatoes and fry them till the oil separates.
- Next, add in the ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes away.
- Add in the turmeric and Szechuan peppercorns.
- Add in the the chicken pieces and fry on a low flame with the lid on.
- Once the water reduces, pour in a cup of water and let the chicken cook for about 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, check if the chicken is cooked thoroughly.
- Let the juices reduce and sprinkle the black pepper on top.
- And there you have your Szechuan Chicken Curry!
3. Spicy Szechuan Sauce
Finally, we have a mouthwatering spicy Szechuan sauce that is sure to add some depth and character to your main dishes. It goes well with just about anything - rice, curries, momos, samosas, and even noodles!
Ingredients you will need:
- A handful of dried red chillies
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/4th teaspoon vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns finely ground into a powder
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Salt to taste
How to Make the Sauce:
- Rinse and then soak the red chillies in warm water for about 30 minutes. Drain and keep aside. Make sure the stems are removed.
- Next, add the chillies to a blending jar with about 2 tablespoons of water and blend into a fine paste.
- Take a pan and heat the oil on medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add in the chopped onions and fry till transclucent.
- Next, lower the flame and add in the chopped ginger and garlic.
- Add in the finely ground Szechuan peppercorns.
- Next, add in the red chilli paste and stir well.
- Add in the vinegar and sugar and salt.
- Saute the paste on medium flame for 2-3 minutes making sure that it does not burn.
Your Spicy Szechuan Sauce is now ready! If you’d like a smoother consistency, you can blend the cooked sauce in the blender until you achieve your desired consistency.
New to using Szechuan pepper? You can try out these recipes here to incorporate it into your diet and you’d be surprised to see just how versatile this unique spice is. If you can’t get it from your local store, you can look for Sichuan peppercorns online and buy them from online stores like ours and have them delivered to your home!