The green Sichuan peppercorn (qīng huājiāo) is a relative of the more well-known red Sichuan peppercorn.
Green Sichuan peppercorns, like their red relatives, are not particularly hot. Instead, they have a citrusy flavor and cause numbing micro-vibrations in the mouth when consumed, laying the foundation for the fiery chilies typical of traditional Sichuan cooking. For those interested, “ma la” is the Chinese term for this hot and tingly mixture.
The green berries of the Sichuan pepper tree have been growing in popularity in the province of Sichuan over the past several years, even though the red Sichuan peppercorns are still more known internationally. Inquire further by reading on!
What Are Peppercorns From Green Sichuan?
What is the flavor like?
Green Sichuan peppercorns, contrary to popular perception, are not obtained from the same kind of prickly-ash tree as their red counterparts.
They smell more strongly of citrus and trigger a more severe case of “ma” (mouth numbness) than their red counterparts. In comparison to the red type, their taste is more herbal and earthy.
The Proper Way to Prepare Green Sichuan Peppercorns
Green Sichuan peppercorns, like their red counterparts, are used to season savory and spicy Sichuan cuisine. Because of their zesty citrus flavor, they are a welcome complement to many seafood, chicken, and vegetable dishes.
You can use them however you choose, but we recommend using them in this recipe for Sichuan Boiled Fish.
You can use green Sichuan peppercorns whole in a sauté with chilies, or you can add a pinch of ground or chopped pepper to a finished meal or sauce.
Use the green ones much more sparingly than the red ones because of how much numbing effect they have. (Unless you like the feeling of a novocaine shot in the dentist!)
Getting and Storing
For a long time, all Sichuan peppercorn imports into the United States were strictly forbidden. As of 2004, the restriction had been abolished, but only if the berries were cooked to a specified temperature first. This will make sure that they are not bringing in a disease that is fatal to citrus trees in the United States.
Despite this, unless you live near a large Chinese supermarket, Sichuan peppercorns can be challenging to locate in the United States. Green berries are even more of a rarity.
They go by names like “flower pepper” and “prickly-ash” and can be found in Asian grocery stores, specialist herb and spice stores, and on the internet. Along with carefully selected spices, sauces, dry products, and pickles, The Mala Market is an online retailer that sells premium Green Sichuan peppercorns.
When you open the bag of peppercorns, you should be greeted by a burst of vibrant army green color and a zesty citrus aroma. A higher quality indicator is a lower number of seeds and stems in the bag.
Peppercorns from Sichuan should be stored in an airtight container after they are complete. Make sure to keep them out of the sun and in a cool, dry place. In this condition, they will last for several years. Once ground, peppercorns lose their aroma and tingling sensation within a few months.
Alternatives of Green Sichuan Peppercorns
Red Sichuan peppercorns that aren’t aged have a slightly distinct flavor and aren’t quite as profoundly numbing as regular red Sichuan peppercorns. They are a convenient stand-in for green peppercorns because of their availability and versatility.