Did you know that each type of peppercorn requires a different approach even for grinding it?
Let’s start from a unique truth: if you grind your pepper just before the use, its aroma and flavours will stand out much more.
Having said so, there are different rules to grind the pepper, depending on its type.
The szechuan peppers, instead, need a different treatment. Here are the basic steps to grind szechuan peppers:
- DISCARD THE BLACK SEEDS
Before you start grinding, make sure you look through the peppercorns and discard any black seeds that you find. Indeed, unlike black/white pepper, only the open husks of Sichuan pepper are used in food.
The black seeds inside are quite hard and tasteless, that’s why you want to remove them.
- DRY ROAST WITHOUT OIL
Place all peppercorns into a cold frying pan and roast them over medium-low heat. Shake the pan back and forward occasionally to roast the corns totally. Once you smell their intense aroma and they’ll look a bit oily on the surface they are ready.
Turn off the heat and remove them from the hot pan immediately. Don’t overcook them, or they’ll taste bitter.
- LET COOL THEN CRUSH
Another important step is to leave the roasted peppercorns to cool before you grind them. The best way to grind any type of pepper (not only szechuan ones), is to use the pestle and mortar.
After the roasting and cooling process, the peppercorns become brittle therefore very easy to grind. You may also use an electric grinder or a manual one, if you wish.
- USE A SIEVE TO REMOVE GRITTY BITS
Finally, you need to sift the crushed pepper through a fine-mesh sieve. This is to remove the gritty, sandy bits (from the black seeds and/or the yellow inner parts of the husks).
It’s better not to skip this step, as it is necessary to remove all residuals of the sandy bits that may ruin the taste of this amazing spice!
- One last suggestion: MAKE A SMALL BATCH AT A TIME.
Basically heat, grind and use always the pepper that you need and conserve the other in a bag that can be closed in a dry and not sunny space. This way your spices will conserve for longer and will keep their aroma intense and flavoured!