• One of the few spices used in Japanese cooking is Sichuan pepper. In Japan it is known as Sancho. Otherwise, it's known by many names - Chinese pepper, Fagara, Flower pepper, Sancho powder, Szechwan pepper, anise pepper. Sichuan pepper, by whatever name, is a spice worth knowing. The pepper has a pungent, woody aroma with a pleasant "peppery" flavor. (You already know the flavor because it is a major ingredient of Chinese Five-spice Powder.) It is mildly bitter with hints of citrus. For best results, buy the berries whole and grind them in a small spice grinder. To achieve even more flavor, dry roast the berries in a heavy iron frying pan. Sichuan pepper is actually not a pepper but the dried berry from the prickly ash tree. It is indigenous to China where it grows abundantly in the wild. The red berries, which are picked in the fall and left to dry in the sun, are about one sixth of an inch long with a rough prickly exterior. The dried berry eventually splits open and looks like a flower. Sichuan pepper is a necessary pepper for many classic Chinese dishes such as Sichuan noodles with beef of crispy duck. In Sichuan province this spice is usually paired with chili peppers. One of the few spices used in Japanese cooking is Sichuan pepper. In Japan it is known as Sancho. The pepper is always used ground and is usually added to food after cooking to counter the taste of fatty foods. Sancho powder is one of the ingredients in the Japanese seven- spice mixture of shichimi. In Korea, Sichuan pepper is used in cucumber salads. Sliced cucumbers are marinated in vinegar, sugar, salt, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and Sichuan pepper. The Bonus: A special Japanese pepper called sancho (used in cooking) is being investigated for its ability to rev up the pigmentation cells that control the color of your hair, specifically tested to control cells that produce gray hair.

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