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General Discussion

Sandy/Gritty Sichuan Peppercorns?

arielleeve | Jan 24, 201607:19 PM     7

So I recently returned from a trip to Thailand, where I purchased a whole bunch of spices at the Chatuchak Market in Bangkok. I had no idea the quality of any of them, and everything was dirt cheap, but I figured because it was so cheap I had nothing to lose. One thing I bought was Sichuan peppercorns, as I've been meaning to buy some for a long time but never get around to going out of my way to look for them. I brought them home and used them for the first time in a kung pao tofu dish that I cooked last night. The recipe (from Serious Eats) instructs you to coarsely grind them in a mortar and pestle, which I did. I found when eating the dish that they had a gritty, sandy texture, almost like dirt, that basically ruined an otherwise good dish. I've cooked the same dish before subbing in regular peppercorns and don't remember feeling that way.

My question is, was this texture due to a poor quality peppercorn, as I somehow suspect? Since I've never cooked with them before, I wasn't sure if it was just me not being used to the texture. That said, I've had them in dishes at Sichuan restaurants and never had that issue. Is what I bought some kind of knock off? It also lacked the mouthburning sensation that you usually get from Sichuan peppercorns, although it did have that slightly soapy flavor. Trying to decide if I should toss these and find a different kind somewhere in Chinatown.

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