The warm spice and citrusy aroma of Sichuan peppercorns can be totally addictive. The dark berry-hued peppercorns produce a tingly numbing sensation that wakes up your tongue; combined with fiery chilies, it's an effect known as ma la, or "numbing heat." From classics like dry-fried green beans and mapo tofu to amped-up chicken wings and burgers, we've got 20 great ways to make the most of the unique spice.
'sichuan peppercorn' on Serious Eats
Inspired by beef momo seasoned with the tingly heat of Sichuan peppercorns, these burgers are spiked with a fragrant mixture of that spice, plus cumin, star anise, fennel, chili flakes, and brown sugar. A tangy chili mayo with plenty of fresh ginger and cucumber pickles round it out.
Northwestern Chinese cuisine is famous for its grilled and stir-fried lamb, combining the hot and tingly flavors of Sichuan peppercorns and dried red chilies with plenty of cumin and other spices. So we asked ourselves, why not take those very same flavors and rub them all over a glorious roast leg of lamb? The results were phenomenal.
If you're not familiar with the numbing, tongue-tingling bite of Sichuan peppercorns, they can be a nerve-wracking ingredient to bring into your kitchen. So we asked chefs around the country to show just how versatile this spice can be, and how to incorporate into food well beyond the Sichuan standards, without the pain.
Tofu haters can have a shot at tasting the addictive Sichuan-style sauce flavored with hot chili oil and numbing Sichuan peppercorns.
Spicy dressed tofu is a five-minute light meal or appetizer, fragrant with chili oil, vinegar, and Sichuan peppercorn.