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  • if you've ever had Sichuan food or spicy hot pot, you've definitely encountered this spice, their cold Sichuan peppercorns and their native to China.

  • And they're what makes the cuisine so mouth numbingly spicy and the effect can be, well, electric.

  • It's starting, just spread alot over my mouth, one study shows.

  • The tingling sensation has the same frequency as some power grids, but I noticed growing up in Los Angeles that the peppercorns in the States weren't really that strong.

  • So I had to go to Sichuan to get the real deal.

  • It's himself succession.

  • We're on our way to honey in the epicenter of peppercorn production in China.

  • For the Americans out there who onion is to peppercorns, as Napa is wine.

  • It is said that the best peppercorns in the world come from here.

  • But whether or not that's actually true, well, we'll find out.

  • I met up with Guns Hall, a peppercorn distributor and processor.

  • He took me to King she, a town in Hanyang that allegedly has the best peppercorns in the country straight.

  • You can you can you change the way because that way you know, woman a a a uh, a coma, a uh, despite its name, peppercorns aren't actually related to peppers, says Trump.

  • Peppercorns have this sort of like lemony in chemistry, sort of a citrusy flavor, So that sort of gives us a hint that it's in the same family as Citrus species.

  • Many different species in the Citrus family do have thorns and specifically younger plants.

  • The reason why peppercorn harvesting is so meticulous is because you see these thorns on it, so you have to do everything by hand.

  • You can't just grab it, Andi.

  • That's why it can be quite expensive.

  • 53 year old Lee So Jin has been picking peppercorns for 30 years Now.

  • She makes roughly $5 for every kilogram picked.

  • On average, she can pick 10 kg a day during the harvest season, working from sunrise to sunset e your sour mm Sonya.

  • First the peppercorns air dried.

  • Then they're put into this machine, which filters out the seed stems and leaves.

  • Before these machines existed, peppercorns had to be decided by hand.

  • You can imagine it took a very, very long time home in 18.

  • So why social change?

  • Other?

  • No.

  • This year, Lentil is selling his peppercorns for $21 per kilogram.

  • Most of his clients are restaurant owners and hot pot chains in China.

  • But after a whole day in Hanyang, we still wanted to know our peppercorns from here, actually better.

  • We went to a local market to find out.

  • Maybe we're getting.

  • Actually, we're able to smell the difference.

  • This has a much more floral taste compared to the other peppercorn, which is from a different part of the time, which was much more of a savory, dull note.

  • For a second opinion, we asked entrepreneur Jennie Gow for her take.

  • Gow was born in Sichuan and imports honey in peppercorns to the States.

  • From my experience, it is the most fragrant that I've ever experienced.

  • The locals will say that it's because of the topography is because of like it's the climate being high in the mountains.

  • Then why aren't peppercorns in the states as fragrant?

  • The answer is a Siris of weird import regulations.

  • For years, most of the best peppercorns in the states were smuggled in.

  • They were banned between 1968 and 2000 and five because they could potentially harbor a bacterial disease called Citrus canker.

  • That ban was lifted in 2000 and five, but only on the condition that the peppercorns were heated to kill bacteria.

  • One of them told me, Oh, he assured me that they hit him for a now, er so you know, that's clearly not good for the oil content s.

  • So therefore, the potency, the flavor, the aroma, fragrance, you know, um not ideal today People don't have to do that anymore.

  • But if you know about this regulation change.

  • But the latest footnote, it said if Sichuan peppercorns come into the country, just inspect and release.

  • In other words, no longer was it necessary.

  • Tohave keep treatment or their certificate.

  • But no one knew this.

  • I mean, there was no announcement.

  • There was no press release.

  • As a result, most peppercorns in the States are still he treated, which dilutes their potency.

  • We're still heat treating and overheat, treating some of them.

  • And you know, when I try to condone share this good news, they were they were not convinced.

  • E think the biggest problem is that you know there's demand for the best Sichuan pepper within China, and then you know the importers who bring over giant amounts of it here for the supermarkets.

  • They really they bring over the least expensive.

  • It's been the lowest quality, full of seeds and twigs.

  • And when it comes to peppercorns, most Americans don't get the best.

  • So to experience the real deal, you might have to come to China.

  • There are many ways to use peppercorns.

  • They generally come in two types green and red, three green, have more floor notes, and they're often paired with fish or use as a garnish.

  • Red peppercorns are more common, and they're usually roasted before they're used here.

  • It's sprinkled on as a powder.

  • Here.

  • It's being used in hot pot and cooked whole in stir fry.

  • They can even be made into oil.

  • In some parts of Sichuan, the leaves of the peppercorn tree are deep fried and eaten as well.

  • Oh, it's like Tim Perot in terms of texture, but then you get that numbing E right afterwards.

  • But where does that numbing sensation come from?

  • There's multiple analog in system peppercorn, but the main one is hydroxy alpha sensual.

  • Three.

  • Chemical produces a similar effect.

  • Anesthetics used in surgery.

  • Like any spice, it loses its potency after a while, especially when you expose it to things like the air and like heat.

  • Obviously, when it's first harvested in August, it's the most potent.

  • When it's in the freezer, it you can make it extend a lot longer.

  • It seems like a lot of work for a little spice.

  • But there's something about the peppercorn buzz that keeps people coming back.

  • Um, yeah, I think so.

  • Remember, sort of experiencing the peppercorn.

  • It's not just one compound, but really the synergy of all of these different biochemical coming together.

  • There's so much variation in sort of that flavor that we're getting and that physiological sensation, I think it's sort of a wonderful plan to explore and get to know better.

  • Yeah, mhm.

if you've ever had Sichuan food or spicy hot pot, you've definitely encountered this spice, their cold Sichuan peppercorns and their native to China.

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Why It’s So Hard to Find Sichuan Peppercorns in America - In Season (S1E1)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/24
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