How to soften Sichuan Peppercorns

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by orihara, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. orihara

    orihara

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    A lot of Chinese recipes call for the use of whole Sichuan peppercorns, but my family says they like the flavour, but that  the peppercorn itself is like eating an eggshell. How can I soften them to bring down their crunchiness? Because, they don't seem to soften during the coking process. 
     
  2. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    My asian cookbook entitled The Breath of a Wok states:

    "...they must be roasted and ground.   Stir 1/4 cup of peppercorns (Sichuan) in a dry wok over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes until they are fragrant and just beginning to smoke.  Once they're cooled, grind them in a mortar and pestle and then store them in a jar."
     
  3. ordo

    ordo

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    What kk said. But i don't store ground corns. I store whole corns and use a mortar each time i make a new recipe. Otherwise they lose their fragrance.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014
  4. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Ordo, do you roast them, too.
     
  5. butzy

    butzy

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    I also buy them whole, dry roast them and grind them before using them. They are always a bit gritty though.
     
  6. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    As noted, they don't soften. toast and grind them as finely as you can. Dedicate a pepper grinder to them perhaps. 
     
  7. teamfat

    teamfat

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    If I'm using them in a broth that will be strained I don't grind after roasting.
     
  8. ordo

    ordo

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    KK. yes. Always toast them. I just made a Hot and Spicy Sechuan fish with a big bunch of whole Sechuan peppercorns. They came not so hard, pretty edible. A spectacular dish i recommend. Some bad picks:

    The fish stock with heads, bones, etc.


    Spices:  Sechuan peppercorns, hot fried chillies, doubanjiang.


    The stock, sieved. What you see here floating are whole Sechuan peppercorns. This one is hot!

     
  9. chicagoterry

    chicagoterry

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    It might help to pick out as many of the shiny, hard, black seeds as you can. That is what is gritty and it's actually the husks that are the desirable component, anyway. Supposedly, high quality Sichuan pepper is mostly husks but I've never seen such an animal, no matter which Asian market I visit.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
  10. everydaygourmet

    everydaygourmet

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    Orihara,

    you can also take a jar fill 1/3 with the peppercorns and about 1/3 bottled water, add about 1/1/2" water to a pressure cooker, set the jar on a rack and pressure cook for about 10 minutes quick release or let set till cool.

    oil du jour same ratio as above microwave till warm, vac seal let it set overnight, can also microwave in steps in oil or water to soften and steep the SPC, add water/oil as it's absorbed.

    Good luck.

    Cheers!

    EDG
     
  11. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    I had the same experience with a batch of Sichuan peppers a few years ago. The husks had nearly all a black shiny seed in it! People should be warned to not add that to a dish. These seeds can be incredibly tough, even when the pepper is roasted and crushed. A very unpleasant experience! Since than, I always look for those shiny little monsters, they have to go!