When these little hunks of chicken mix with fiery dried red chiles, Sichuan peppercorns, and chili bean paste, something unleashes in your brain that's one part pleasure and one part glorious pain. Don't look for perfectly moist hunks of chicken here. They dry out a bit, but that's the point.
Hong Kong Salt Shrimp
The shrimp are dropped straight in bubbling oil, tossed with salt, and then coated with Sichuan pepper, black pepper, five-spice powder, and lots more salt. The shells crisp up in the oil and it's perfectly acceptable to eat the whole package, shell and all. They are crunchy, but not tough. It totally works.
The lesson here is if you put Sichuan peppercorns in your dumplings, they will be extraordinary. It's a nice way to get your dumpling fix and satisfy your Sichuan peppercorns craving in one fell swoop. Mixing toasted, ground-up Sichuan peppercorns into the meat filling itself results in a juicy dumpling so complexly flavored, it'll become a regular filling in your dumpling line-up. It's the kind of dumpling you'd find in Tibetan or Himalayan cookery, where momos are frequently served alongside a spicy, garlicky tomato sauce spiked with cumin.
It's one of the key spices of mapo tofu, a classic Sichuan dish that pairs the tongue-numbing spice with plenty of spicy bean paste and chili oil. The flavor is feisty and slightly out of control, yet it still feels homey and relaxed. The chili bean paste adds a wallop of heat while the Sichuan peppercorns numb the inside of your mouth. It's meaty, but as much of the umami punch comes form the fermented black beans as the ground pork.
Or.. Mapo Liver
Nix the tofu and instead use an animal innard that looks eerily similar. Liver! Take a slab of liver and cube it to resemble tofu cubes. Sear the cubes in a wok until the surface is browned and slightly crisp but the interior is still rare. Given how much liver was in the mix, you don't need to add ground meat. Coat the cubes in chili oil and and an extra shot of Sichuan peppercorns. The liver is as tender as silken tofu. This is a keeper dish.
Dan Dan Mian
Sichuan peppercorns are also a key player in dan dan mian, a noodle dish that uses meat and vegetables sparingly, but doesn't scrimp on the spices. It's a good idea to use the peppercorns as a finishing flavor for any noodle dish.
Sichuan-Style Hot and Numbing Sliced Turkey
The classic Sichuan flavors of chile oil, vinegar, and Sichuan peppercorns go together fantastically with cold leftover turkey. Whether the day after Thanksgiving, or any other day of the year.
Bon Bon Chicken
There are many things to love about this recipe from Cecilia Chiang's The Seventh Daughter: My Culinary Journey from Beijing to San Francisco. The poached chicken is aromatic, tender, and juicy, and the cucumbers provide the perfect crisp crunch. But the sauce is probably the best part, and a major reason it's so good is the heavy sprinkling of those Sichuan peppercorns.
Finally, consider using toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns to spice up your popcorn. Pop the corn kernels as usual on the stovetop (or cheat with the microwavable kind), then mix in butter, olive oil, and a pinch of the peppercorns. Go easy when adding them—too much will overwhelm the butter flavor, in which case you'll have no choice but to make more popcorn to even out the flavors.
Uncle Lang's Three Teacup Chicken
We really can't emphasize enough how important the Sichuan peppercorns are in this sauce. At first, you don't even notice them. But after a minute or so, you'll start to feel the slight tingle on you lips—and you'll need to eat more. It becomes an addiction, seriously.
Sichuan Dry-Fried Beef
Dry-frying is a technique unique to Sichuan cuisine. The general idea is to cook the beef (or another protein) in moderately hot oil without any kind of batter or protective coating. As it cooks, the intense heat drives off interior moisture, thereby concentrating its flavor. The exterior becomes desiccated (hence "dry"-frying) and browned. Toss it with the Sichuan peppercorns and eat immediately!