Sichuan pepper

Botanical Name ; Sichuan pepper
Family  :  Rutaceae
Subfamily: Rutoideae
Gender : Zanthoxylum
Species : Z. piperitum
Kingdom :Plantae
Subkingdom :Tracheobionta, Vascular plants
Superdivision :Spermatophyta, Seed plants
Division : Magnoliophyta,Flower plants
Class :Magnoliopsida, Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Sapindales

Synonyms:  Zanthoxylum piperitum,  Zanthoxylum acanthophyllum, Zanthoxylum argyi, Zanthoxylum podocarpum

Common Names:
English: Sichuan pepper, Szechwan pepper or Szechuan pepper, Japanese pepper
Spanish: pimienta de Sichuán, pimienta de Sechuán, Fagara, pimienta anís, pimienta marrón, pimienta china, pimienta de Japón, Sansho, pimentero japonés (arbusto, bonsai).
Catalan: pebre japonès, pebre de Japó, pebre de Szechuan.
French: Poivrier du Japon, poivre chinois.
Italian: Pepe di Sichuan.
German: Japanischer Pfeffer, Anispfeffer, Chinesischer Pfeffer, Szechuanpfeffer.
Japanese: san-shô, shichimi.

Habitat:Sichuan pepper is native to Asia (mainly Caina)It grows in sun or partial shade. It prefers moist soils or heavy clay soils, well drained. Frost resistant up to -15 ° C.

Description:
Sichuan pepper is a deciduous shrub that grows 2 feet high by about 1 meter wide.Stem with rough colored bark, branched and covered with spines.
The leaves are pinnate, with an odd number of leaflets oval opposite (5 to 19), alternate and dark green. In fall, the leaves becom yellow stained.
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It flowers from April to June in the northern hemisphere. The Japanese pepper tree is a dioecious species, that’s to say, it has male plants and female plants. The variety to provide fruits must have both sexes.

The flowers are yellowish green, small and aromatic, fruity . They are formed on old wood, in the axils of the new branches.

The fruit is a capsule-sized sessile like peppercorns (3 to 5 mm in diameter), which grow in groups of 4 in the stem end, but only 1 or 2 fruits fail to develop.
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The capsules or fruit are reddish-brown.they have many bumps in the bark. They contain a liquid inside responsible for the characteristic pungent spiciness of this plant.

The interior has a black seed, shiny. It is customary that some fruits are empty inside.
Cultivation:
Easily grown in loamy soils in most positions, but prefers a good deep well-drained moisture retentive soil in full sun or semi-shade. A plant has been growing well for many years in deep woodland shade at Cambridge Botanical gardens, it was fruiting heavily in autumn 1996. Cultivated for its seed, which is used as a condiment in China. Flowers are formed on the old wood. The bruised leaves are strongly aromatic. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features:Inconspicuous flowers or blooms, Blooms appear periodically throughout the year.
Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Stored seed may requires up to 3 months cold stratification, though scarification may also help. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Germination should take place in late spring, though it might take another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings, 3cm long, planted horizontally in pots in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers, removed in late winter and planted into their permanent positions.

Edible Uses:
The plant (fruit) is used as a spice . Its leaves are also edible.

Sichuan pepper’s unique aroma and flavour is not hot or pungent like black, white, or chili peppers. Instead, it has slight lemony overtones and creates a tingly numbness in the mouth (caused by its 3% of hydroxy alpha sanshool) that sets the stage for hot spices. According to Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking, they are not simply pungent; “they produce a strange, tingling, buzzing, numbing sensation that is something like the effect of carbonated drinks or of a mild electrical current (touching the terminals of a nine-volt battery to the tongue). Sanshools appear to act on several different kinds of nerve endings at once, induce sensitivity to touch and cold in nerves that are ordinarily nonsensitive, and so perhaps cause a kind of general neurological confusion.”

Recipes often suggest lightly toasting the tiny seed pods, then crushing them before adding them to food. Only the husks are used; the shiny black seeds are discarded or ignored as they have a very gritty sand-like texture. The spice is generally added at the last moment. Star anise and ginger are often used with it in spicy Sichuan cuisine. It has an alkaline pH and a numbing effect on the lips when eaten in larger doses. Ma la (Chinese: ??; pinyin: málà; literally “numbing and spicy”), common in Sichuan cooking, is a combination of Sichuan pepper and chili pepper, and it is a key ingredient in má là hot pot, the Sichuan version of the traditional Chinese dish. It is also a common flavouring in Sichuan baked goods such as sweetened cakes and biscuits.

Sichuan pepper is also available as an oil. In this form, it is best used in stir-fry noodle dishes without hot spices. The recipe may include ginger oil and brown sugar cooked with a base of noodles and vegetables, then rice vinegar and Sichuan pepper oil are added after cooking.

Hua jiao yan is a mixture of salt and Sichuan pepper, toasted and browned in a wok and served as a condiment to accompany chicken, duck, and pork dishes. The peppercorns can also be lightly fried to make a spicy oil with various uses.

In Indonesian Batak cuisine, andaliman (a relative of Sichuan pepper) is ground and mixed with chilies and seasonings into a green sambal tinombur or chili paste, to accompany grilled pork, carp, and other regional specialties. Arsik, a Batak dish from the Tapanuli region, uses andaliman as spice.

Sichuan pepper is one of the few spices important for Nepali (Gurkha), Tibetan and Bhutanese cookery of the Himalayas, because few spices can be grown there. One Himalayan specialty is the momo, a dumpling stuffed with vegetables, cottage cheese or minced yak meat, water buffalo meat, or pork and flavoured with Sichuan pepper, garlic, ginger, and onion, served with tomato and Sichuan pepper-based gravy. Nepalese-style noodles are steamed and served dry, together with a fiery Sichuan pepper sauce.

In Korean cuisine, two species are used: Z. piperitum and Z. schinifolium.

Medicinal uses:
Native North Americans use the ground bark of Szechuan plant as a remedy for toothache.
Like in anise, these peppercorns too found application in traditional medicines as stomachic, anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, carminative, digestive, expectorant, stimulant and tonic. It is used in the treatment of gastralgia and dyspepsia due to cold with vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, ascariasis and dermal diseases. It has a local anaesthetic action and is parasiticide against the pork tapeworm (Taenia solium). The pericarp contains geraniol. In small doses this has a mild diuretic action, though large doses will inhibit the excretion of urine. There is a persistent increase in peristalsis at low concentration, but inhibition at high concentration. The leaves are carminative, stimulant and sudorific. The fruit is carminative, diuretic, stimulant, stomachic and tonic. The seed is antiphlogistic and diuretic. A decoction of the root is digestive and also used in the treatment of snakebites. The resin contained in the bark, and especially in that of the roots, is powerfully stimulant and tonic.

Other Uses: Landscape Uses:Border, Massing

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sichuan_pepper
http://www.botanical-online.com/english/pepper_zanthoxylum_piperitum.htm
http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/sichuan-peppercorns.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Zanthoxylum+simulans

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