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Szechuan / Szechwan peppercorns (Xanthoxylum Piperitum)

Not actually a peppercorn at all, but dried flower buds of a shrub, which is a member of the citrus family. They are reddish-brown in appearance, still resembling the slightly opening bud of a dried flower.

They are available both whole and seeded, the latter version having a better aroma and flavour. They will keep indefinitely if kept dry and away fro the heat. They produce more flavour if "roasted" before use. They are one of the ingredients of Chinese Five Spice Powder, and also Japanese Schichimi togarashi - the latter being a seven-spice mixture including red pepper flakes, roughly ground sansho (the seedpods of the Japanese pepper), flakes of mandarin orange peel, black hemp seeds, tiny flakes of green nori and white sesame seeds.

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards. Small classes.

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