Sichuan Pepper is a famous spice of the Northwest mountainous region in Vietnam.
After the trees bear fruit, Sichuan Pepper will be collected and dried to be used throughout the year. Although being considered as a pepper of the forest, Sichuan Pepper has a completely different taste and use. It brings the character of the ethnic minority communities in the northern mountains.
(Sichuan Pepper in fresh form)
The indispensable spice in the kitchen of Northwestern people
Sichuan Pepper has a scientific name of Zanthoxylum rhetsa, belonging to the family of oranges. People in the mountainous region also call it Coc Hoi, or Hoang Moc Hoi. Sichuan Pepper tree is about 8 – 10 m high, woody, and straight. Its flowers bloom into clusters with a very fragrant smell from the essential oils of the tree. When November comes, clusters of flowers will result in fruit clusters and it is also the time to harvest. Raw Sichuan Pepper fruit is green and turns yellow-pink like lychee when it is ripe with black seeds.
Mac Khen is most delicious when fresh fruit is processed right after being picked. However, to store and use throughout the year, fresh Sichuan Pepper will be dried.
Sichuan Pepper is considered the soul of the Northwestern cuisine since it is used in almost all dishes here. The taste of Sichuan Pepper is also the highlight that contributes a distinctive feature to local specialties. Sichuan Pepper seeds smell like orange but are more pleasant. When eating, we will not feel any taste at first, but after a while, our tongue starts to be a little numb with a characteristic aroma.
(Dried Sichuan Pepper- Wonderful Tasty Spice)
Uses of Sichuan Pepper seeds
Sichuan Pepper contains much essential oil with important ingredients such as alkaloids, b-pinene, d-terpinene, d-a-phellandrene, d-a-dihydrocarvol, 4-caren, 4-terpinol, dl-carvotanacetone, and antimicrobial agents. Thanks to many nutrients as well as mild spicy, and aromatic flavor, Sichuan Pepper is used as a spice and medicine.
- Being a spice: This use made the “name” of Sichuan Pepper. It can be seasoned into many different dishes. With its own distinctive flavor, every dish with the presence of Sichuan Pepper seeds seems to be upgraded many times. But pay attention not to add too much because it can make the dish bitter and difficult to eat.
- Being a medicine: With a warm and spicy taste, Sichuan Pepper is believed to be used as a traditional medicine to treat bloating, indigestion, stimulate digestion and relieve joint pain. In addition, there are many other effective folk remedies that have the “presence” of Sichuan Pepper seeds.
- Being soaked in alcohol: Dried Sichuan Pepper seeds are also soaked in alcohol to be used as a massage medicine to help reduce blood clots, bruises, and joint pain.