February 24, 2004
Sichuan peppercorns

I have a recipe maybe I'll post sometime for a pseudo-Sichuan chicken with all the wrong (ie available at your local grocery) ingredients. It's actually not bad as a placeholder for some real Sichuan, but lately I've been wanting something a bit more [and I hate to use this word] authentic. Problem is, to make real Sichuan you need Sichuan ingredients.

The logical place to start seems to be Sichuan peppercorns. Unfotunately, there's some question about their status: eg according to this article, they're banned in the US thanks to a citrus parasite (it turns out Sichuan peppercorns have more genes in common with oranges than peppercorns). Per the article, I tried eBay, but no luck. And then the good folks at Penzey's told me this morning the things have recently been unbanned, but I can't find anything about this on the internet, and in any case Penzey's doesn't stock them. If anybody can enlighten me...

Tomorrow, Chinatown. I expect they'll have them there although I'm not sure that will shed any light on whether they're legal or not...

Posted by Paul at February 24, 2004 6:49 PM | TrackBack Print-friendly version
Comments

According to this site, they have been banned but products bought before 2002 can be sold:

http://www.nobreakfast.com/archives/000041.html

There is also a UK site that sells it (www.seasonedpioneers.co.uk) if you want to have a friend in Europe order it for you. (wink, wink)

Posted by Meg on February 25, 2004 at 5:51 AM

Maybe, if it comes down to that... but I'd feel bad about implicating anyone else in a smuggling scheme!

Posted by paul on February 25, 2004 at 10:19 AM

I do seem to remember some snail smuggling in the early 90's...

Posted by barrett on February 25, 2004 at 11:33 AM

That was my evil twin...

Posted by Meg on February 26, 2004 at 5:12 AM

According to Robb Walsh, of Houston Press, "Last year, a heat treatment that eliminates canker-causing bacteria was approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Sichuan peppercorns once again became legal." http://www.houstonpress.com/Issues/2005-06-09/dining/cafe_1.html

Posted by Matthew on June 12, 2005 at 8:47 AM

Thanks for the info, Matthew!

Paul, let me know if you want me to send you some peppercors - I've discovered they carry them at my local supermarket!

Posted by Meg in Paris on June 13, 2005 at 2:51 AM

As of September 2004 they are once again legal in the US as long as they have been heat treated, I found some searching for Szechuan Peppercorns (I know that spelling is awful, but that is what I found them listed under for order in the US).

Posted by Jonah on July 7, 2005 at 8:41 AM

As of September 2004 they are once again legal in the US as long as they have been heat treated, I found some searching for Szechuan Peppercorns (I know that spelling is awful, but that is what I found them listed under for order in the US).

Posted by Jonah Lee on July 7, 2005 at 8:41 AM
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