Sansho pepper is the peppercorns of the prickly ash tree. It has a vibrant, peppery lemon flavor with prolonged residual heat and is sprinkled over grilled eel, chicken, noodle dishes, and more.
Sansho pepper (山椒) is a powder made from the ground berries of Japanese prickly ash. It is a cousin to the Chinese Sichuan peppercorn and is botanically classified as Zanthoxylum piperitum. The berries have pocked, bumpy skin and are vibrant green.
Table of Contents
What is Sansho Pepper
Sansho pepper is a spice used in powder and whole form. It has a delightful tingling and numbing sensation on your tongue.
The Japanese sprinkle it over unagi, yakitori, hot pot dishes, and noodles. It’s also one of the ingredients for the seven-spice blend shichimi togarashi. The Japanese cook down the fresh berries for tsukudani (佃煮), chirimen sansho (ちりめん山椒), and sansho miso.
Other parts of the plant, such as the flower, buds, young leaves, roots, and bark, are used in Japanese cuisine. The fresh leaves, called kinome (木の芽, literally “tree buds”), are used as decorative garnishes over grilled fish, bamboo shoots, rice, and soups. They are used to denote spring seasonality in food.
What Does It Taste Like
The strong citrus flavor has a pleasant, lasting tingle and a cooling sensation. It’ll stimulate your saliva glands and taste buds.
How To Use It
Sprinkle the condiment over unagi, poultry, fish, seafood, ramen noodles, and miso soup for the citrusy, floral fragrance and tingly sensation. You could also use it in Western dishes, such as steak sauce, salad dressing, or grilled vegetables.
Recipes Using Sansho
- Unadon (Eel Rice) 鰻丼
- Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐
- Hokkaido Salmon Hot Pot (Ishikari Nabe) 石狩鍋
- Sanpeijiru (Japanese Salmon Soup) 三平汁
Where To Buy
Find sansho powder in Japanese and Asian markets. Fresh sansho berries may be difficult to find outside of Japan.
How To Store
Store it in a dry place away from humidity and direct sunlight, like other dried spices.