On a recent trip to Kyoto, I was eating at a Beef Katsu restaurant and one of the spices they made available for seasoning was described as "Japanese salt and pepper".

The spice blend was mostly white/black/gray in color, with no red.

The blend had really excellent flavor (compared to what I would expect for salt + black pepper), and now I'm curious what exactly it was composed of and whether it has a more distinctive name. Does anyone know?

  • 3
    Ground sansho pepper is kind of greenish grey... This is my first thought, but it's not really "black" images.app.goo.gl/U37F4XxkGRPfeRDf9
    – AMtwo
    Nov 14, 2019 at 12:34
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    @AMtwo ok this does match what I remember. At the time I wasn't sure if the slight green tint was a trick of the light. Nov 14, 2019 at 12:47
  • Visit your nearest SupperMarket and look in seasoning section. You will find tons of blends. I think this particular you looking for is Shio-Kosho. Once I saw pink colored Shio-Kosho. Did not dare to buy though. Nov 15, 2019 at 0:24

2 Answers 2


They may have been trying to describe "salt and Japanese pepper". Japanese pepper is unrelated to black pepper, but closely related to Sichuan pepper; its flavor has been described as "lemony" and it has a "numbing" quality. It's also known as "sansho". Mixtures of pre-ground sansho and salt are readily available in Asian grocery stores. This mixture is commonly sprinkled on grilled meats, so this would be my guess.

Of course, it's also possible they meant black and/or white pepper. There's a number of varietals of peppercorn, and how they are roasted, stored, and ground will have a significant effect on the taste.

  • I think you're right. Googling Gyukatsu and sansho together found me this page (gyukatsu-kyotokatsugyu.ca/copy-of-our-story) which looks exactly like the setup I had! Thanks! Nov 14, 2019 at 12:45
  • 2
    Zanthoxylum piperitum for anyone googling.
    – Shane
    Nov 16, 2019 at 4:12
  • That stuff is delicious mixed in with "normal" sichuan pepper in dishes that call for sichuan pepper. Nov 17, 2019 at 15:34

The one I use is Aji-Shio-Kosho. It is a blend of salt, black pepper, and MSG. Here is a link to the specific one I buy on Amazon.

A quick internet search may provide you with more results.

  • Interesting. I will try the sansho that @sneftel suggested and if that doesn't taste right I'll order some of this! Thanks! Nov 14, 2019 at 12:46

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