Pungent Szechuan peppercorns mix with salt for a roasted blend that’s great rubbed onto pork or steak before cooking.
What to buy: It’s best to buy whole Szechuan pepper from an Asian market. If you’re buying the ground spice, purchase it from a high-quality spice dealer. Although previously banned in the United States (to prevent the spread of plant canker), heat-treated Szechuan peppercorns may now be imported legally.
Game plan: Szechuan pepper often contains bits of pointy thorns that can be harmful if swallowed, so be vigilant. The seeds usually are removed as well because they have an unpleasant, gritty texture.