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I've got a big bag of Sichuan peppers but I've often found that when I cook with them it's difficult to avoid grittiness from the outer kernel. I don't have this problem when I visit Sichuan Chinese restaurants and the peppers were bought from a big Asian supermarket.

What do I need to do to prepare them to avoid the grittiness? Is it really as fiddly as picking out the peppercorn from each kernel or is there something simpler that I need to do?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Grind your peppercorns in a spice grinder, then put them in a large, fine meshed sieve and tap them over a large bowl. The spice will fall through and the husks will stay in the sieve. Should take about 5 minutes max.

Alternatively, buy them pre-ground.

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Good advice. Thank you. –  Treblekicker Jul 17 '10 at 22:23

Yes. The grittiness is completely due to the peppercorn. Remove it. Usually only the husk is used.

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Sigh. Fiddly work. I guess I'll buy a paste or other preparation next time! –  Treblekicker Jul 17 '10 at 18:23
    
hmmmm. @TrebleKicker you seem to suggest in your question that you think it is the husks that are causing the grittiness, and you are going to remove the husks and just use the kernel, but this answer suggests that what you want to do is the opposite, ie, ditch the kernels and eat only the husks... –  Sam Holder Jul 17 '10 at 19:07
    
From wikipedia apparently: "Sichuan pepper has a unique aroma and flavour that is not hot or pungent like black or white pepper, or chili peppers, but 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 these hot spices. Recipes often suggest lightly toasting and then crushing the tiny seedpods 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. It is generally added at the last moment." –  Sam Holder Jul 17 '10 at 19:09
    
Either way it's fiddly work and probably worth buying something other than the raw peppercorns ;) –  Treblekicker Jul 17 '10 at 22:17
    
Yeah, the big container of Szechuan peppercorns I got in Chinatown have only the husks, no seeds at all. –  Harlan Aug 9 '10 at 2:11

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