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Author Topic: Sansho Pepper  (Read 80 times)


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Sansho Pepper
« on: June 18, 2019, 04:58:40 AM »
I didn't see much about this on the boards, so I thought I would share.

It's very interesting in that not only does it have the zesty appeal of citrus, but it has a very unique (to the west) bite.

When you have it on anything but the heaviest of dishes, it can be quite mouth numbing.

The leaves are also used at tender-green stage, and are an essential part of Spring cooking in Japanese cuisine.

It's very cold hardy as well.

The flavor is closest to mandarin, and it's a great topping for vanilla ice cream.


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Re: Sansho Pepper
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2019, 12:49:38 PM »
It said Sansho is in the citrus family.  Do you know its genus and species?
Near the end, it said it is a good to sprinkle it on vanilla ice cream.  I was reminded that some like chiltipine powder on vanilla ice cream.  Chiltipine is the wild ancestor of domestic chili peppers and is extremely hot, but also with a strong pepper flavor aside from the hot flavor.


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Re: Sansho Pepper
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2019, 12:49:54 PM »
The prickly ashes, Zanthoxylum, are indeed in Rutaceae and might even be graft-compatible with Citrus and Poncirus, although that's less certain.  Like Murraya spp., Zanthoxylum spp. produce a lot of interesting compounds that are pungent, citrusy, or even sort of petrochemicaly (as in the case of very good Murraya koenigii.)  My fantasy is to have a single tree with Poncirus, Murraya, and Zanthoxylum it would be a pretty interesting stink!

Now, saying the flavour is close to mandarin orange strikes me as a little silly.  Sansho is more citrusy than the green Zanthoxylum cultivars in China, and certainly moreso than the red huajiao that you'll find in most real Sichuan-style in North America (the green Chinese cultivars have only been available more recently.)  Still, there's a lot of other stuff going on there.  Very good for brightness, though!

There's at least one North American native Zanthoxylum, Z. americanum, and in the Hawaiian Islands, there's several (and if anyone has cuttings of any or all of them, I'm super interested in buying some from you!)


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Re: Sansho Pepper
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2019, 03:54:51 PM »
I had fresh Sansho in Japan, it was very good. It was peppery, but in a more subtle way, a little bit like Szechuan pepper, but more green and had a slightly floral aroma to it, and was reminiscent of citrus, with a "salty" lime flavor, and Yuzu or Kaffir lime fragrance, but also half like lemongrass, and slightly sweet.

It would be great for making beef jerky.

You don't want to use too much of it though, it's best mixed with other spices in a smaller amount to add subtle unique flavor.

The berries taste better than the leaves (which can also be used). The seeds are shaken out and removed from the dried berries before use.

Of course like Szechuan pepper, it gives a tingly numbing sensation to the tongue, but it's half as strong. This numbing sensation is a little bit like drinking highly carbonated water while having a device applying high frequency vibration to the tongue, and on top of that pins and needles, but it's not entirely unpleasant. In smaller amounts.
It's "peppery" in both a similar way to Black pepper and hot peppers, but also in its own unique way.

The Japanese sometimes use it in Japanese 5-spice as a condiment to Yakitori, or in the broth of fatty fish dishes, when they need something to "cut through" the fat/richness. (like Saba mackerel)

You need both the male and female plants if you want to get any berries to form, so you'd probably need to grow several seedlings together. (Although the leaves can also be used)
« Last Edit: June 18, 2019, 04:02:03 PM by SoCal2warm »


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