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Roasted Szechuan Pepper Salt

Szechuan Pepper Salt is a common seasoning mix used in Chinese cuisine. To make it, Sichuan peppercorns are toasted in a skillet along with coarse salt. Next, the mixture is ground to a fine powder.

Overhead shot of Szechuan peppercorns and kosher salt in a cast-iron skillet.

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This seasoning salt gives any dish that weirdly pleasant mouth-numbing sensation you get from Szechuan peppercorns, as well as its intriguing, slightly floral, slightly citrusy flavor.

Sichuan Pepper Salt is an easy way to add the unique flavor of Szechuan peppercorns to any dish.

What are Szechuan peppercorns?

Szechuan peppercorns or Sichuan peppercorns, are unrelated to black peppercorns and other peppercorns common in Western cuisines. In fact, they are not peppercorns at all.

Called “flower pepper” in Chinese, they are the dark pink/reddish husks of the seeds of a plant that is in the citrus family.

The spice is an integral part of Sichuan cuisine. It’s used in many iconic dishes like Mapo Tofu, Dan Dan Noodles, Szechuan Shrimp, and in the Chinese 5-spice blend that also includes fennel, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves.

I use this seasoning on my Chinese Salt and Pepper Wings.

This Szechuan Pepper Salt is a great way to add that authentic Sichuan flavor to all sorts of dishes.

Where can you by Szechuan peppercorns?

You can buy them in most Asian markets. If you don’t have an Asian market near you, you can always order Szechuan peppercorns online.

You can also buy a premade Sichuan Pepper-Salt in Asian markets or online.

Is there a substitute for Sichuan peppercorns?

There is really no substitute for Szechuan peppercorns that captures their depth of flavor and unusual mouth-numbing effect. In a pinch, you can substitute a mixture of kosher salt and ground black pepper or white pepper.

What is Sichuan cuisine?

Sichuan cuisine is a style of cooking originating from Sichuan province in Southwest China. The flavors are bold and spicy, liberally flavored by chile peppers; garlic; fermented, pickled, and preserved ingredients; and Sichuan peppercorns.

A few of the most famous Sichuan dishes are Salt and Pepper Chicken, Mapo Tofu, Szechuan Shrimp, and Dandan Noodles.

What do Sichuan peppercorns taste like?

This spice has a unique flavor. It is floral, citrus-y, and a bit hot. And the most fascinating thing about it is that it has a tingly, mouth-numbing sensation.

Is it Szechuan, Sichuan, or Szechwan?

You may notice that I use both Sichuan and Szechuan. You’ll also see the spelling Szechwan. In one sense, they are all “correct” in that they are all phonetic spellings of Chinese words.

Szechuan and Szechwan are older spellings that have been mostly replaced by the more modern (Pinyin) spelling Sichuan.

Sichuan is the most widely accepted spelling today, but many recipes still refer to Szechuan Pepper Salt or peppercorns.

What ingredients do you need to make Roasted Sichuan Pepper-Salt?

You only need two ingredients to make this powerful seasoning mix:

  • Kosher salt (or you can use sea salt. Do not use table salt!)
  • Szechuan peppercorns (Sichuan peppercorns)

How do you make it?

It’s really easy to make this seasoning at home. Here’s how:

  1. Combine the salt and Sichuan peppercorns in a large, heavy skillet (I like to use a cast-iron skillet).
  2. Heat over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the salt begins to darken a bit and the peppercorns are aromatic.
  3. Transfer to a spice grinder or food processor and process to a fine powder. There will be husks and seeds that don’t break down during grinding and that’s okay.
  4. Pass the powder through a fine-mesh sieve to filter out the husks and seeds.
  5. Store in an airtight container for up to a year (it will last forever, but the flavor might not be as great as it ages past about a year).

How do you use it?

This roasted Szechuan Pepper-Salt is a really versatile seasoning mix. You can use it in my Chinese Salt and Pepper Wings. Or add it to Szechuan Shrimp or Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles. You can use it instead of salt in many recipes, like Mapo Tofu or as a seasoning on Salt and Pepper Wings or Crispy Tofu.

I also use it as a finishing salt, dusting it on popcorn, homemade chips, and peanuts or other nuts.

Overhead shot of Szechuan peppercorns and kosher salt in a cast-iron skillet.

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Yield: Makes about 1/2 cup

Szechuan Pepper Salt

Overhead shot of toasted szechuan peppercorns and salt in a spice grinder.

Szechuan
Pepper Salt is a common seasoning mixed used in Chinese cuisine. To make it, Sichuan peppercorns are toasted in a skillet along with coarse salt and then the mixture is ground to a fine powder. It gives any dish that addictive mouth-numbing sensation you get from Szechuan peppercorns, as well as intriguing, slightly floral, slightly citrusy flavor.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Combine the peppercorns and salt in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook, stirring frequently, until the peppercorns become very aromatic and the salt begins to color a bit.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a spice grinder, pestle, or food processor and grind to a fine powder.
  4. Pass the powder through a fine-meshed sieve to filter out any husks or seeds that didn't get ground up.
  5. Use immediately or store in an airtight jar in your spice cabinet for up to 1 year.

Notes

You can buy Szechuan peppercorns in Asian markets or online.

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