What do you know about Schezuan Pepper?

summary: reason for lack of blog posts; SAVEUR announces “favourite” blogs; should we try Schezuan Pepper again?

My favourite magazine, SAVEUR recently announced The 2011 SAVEUR Best Food Blog Awards: The Winners. Some wonderful blogs were nominated (including a BBBBabe blog!! Yay, Ilva!) and I have been having fun wandering through the various nominated sites.

One of the things I noticed is that of all the sites I’ve looked at, every one has fabulous photos on each post.

More and more over the past few months, I find myself uninspired to write new posts. It’s not because we’re not eating any more. Nor is it because we’re not trying new things.

I realize it’s the photos. I find myself getting tired just thinking about cropping and uploading the photos. Not to mention that our photos don’t have the glitzy quality that has become the norm.

When I started this blog, we didn’t have a camera. And I happily posted away not even thinking about images.

So. Once again, I’m giving myself permission to post WITHOUT (eeeeeeeeek!!!!) adding even one photo.

Okay, now that that is out of my system, I can get to the actual topic: Schezuan Pepper (aka, according to Gernod Katzer, Szetchwan pepper, Anise pepper, Sheguan pepper, Sprice pepper, Sichuan pepper, Chinese pepper)

We used to have a cellophane package of Schezuan Pepper. It smelled intriguing but we finally tossed it into the composter because it seemed to be full of sand.

We assumed we’d been sold inferior Schezuan Pepper.

But now, after looking at Gernod Katzer’s site again, I’m not so sure.

The aroma [of Sichuan Pepper] and, if present, also the pungency reside in the mostly brown fruit wall (pericarp, “shell”), not in the deep black seeds. Often, the seeds are omitted. I have repeatedly read that the seeds have bitter taste, but was never able to find that for myself. A better reason to remove them is their unpleasant, gritty texture that almost feels like sand between the teeth.

-Gernod Katzer, Spice Pages, Sichuan pepper

I’m guessing that all that sand we were getting stuck in our teeth was seeds! And now I want to try Schezuan Pepper again.

Does anyone know how we can tell if Schezuan Pepper has the seeds removed? (I know from experience that there is little point in asking in a Chinese supermarket. Anyone who knows the answer is unlikely to speak English.)

And I have to tell the truth. It’s not just photos (or lack thereof) that has prevented me from posting regularly. It’s Facebook. I keep getting distracted by Facebook, primarily the word games in Facebook. Eeeeeeek!! Make me stop!

Although, it was due to one of my Facebook friends posting about the Tastes of Home: Kung Pao Chicken recipe made with cashews instead of peanuts that caused me to write this particular post.

Purists might be miffed though as I omitted Sichuan peppercorns (花椒) a traditional spice used in many Sichuan dishes which creates a unique ‘tongue-numbing’ (麻辣) sensation

-Jen, Tastes of Home: Kung Pao Chicken recipe smokywok.com/2010/11/kung-pao-chicken-recipe.html

(I wonder if purists really would be miffed about the lack of Schezuan Pepper. I would think it more likely that they’d be miffed at the cashews replacing the peanuts.)

Hmmm. Maybe I should stick with Facebook after all. Kung Pao Chicken with cashews sounds like a very good idea…. :-)


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2 responses to “What do you know about Schezuan Pepper?

  1. your sister barbara

    To purists, I say: “Pffffffftt!” And if they say it should be spelled “Pfft”, I say: “Double Pfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffttttt”. And if they say “spelled” should be spelled “spelt”, I say: “I care not for your speling rulz. I care only for the rules that I choose to care about. Pfffft.”

    I’ve made Kung Pao chicken with cashews, and it was great. Not quite as great as with raw peanuts that get fried as part of making the dish, but better than with pre-roasted peanuts. I can’t remember if I used raw cashews or not, though.

    I reckoned it would be really good with cashews, Barbara. And we still haven’t tried making it with raw peanuts. It’s REALLY good with pre-roasted peanuts. I can’t imagine it being better. -Elizabeth

  2. Alanna Kellogg

    Y’know, I get weary at the effect that cameras/photos create too, Elizabeth – it adds a whole new level of complication with ingredients, timing, etc. The one GOOD thing is that the expectation of good photos gives me reason/purpose to cook from my archives, this helps me check/refine the recipes, add variations, etc. THIS is a good thing! But yes … it’s sure different from our bad old days. :-0


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