Peppers that are not peppers – Sechuan, Timur, and Co.

In addition to the true pepper varieties, there are many spices that are called pepper

But actually, they aren’t pepper at all.

For example allspice, meleguetta, or pink pepper (Baies rose).

Baies rose

But today I would like to introduce you to the Sichuan pepper – also called Fagara.

Pepe Sichuan

Under this name, there are several types, each taste slightly different. What they all have in common, however, is the tingling spiciness that slightly numbs the eater’s tongue.

Generally, all have a citrusy flavor. Sichuan tastes more lemony, while Timur tastes more like grapefruit.

Pepe Timur

Another specific feature is that the flavor is in the fruit peel and not in the seed, which is often not used at all.

The Zanthoxylum genus is found throughout Asia, Sichuan pepper comes from Sichuan in China, Timur from Tibet, and Sansho from Japan.

Sichuan pepper can be ground in a pepper mill but is often used whole.

It is used in Chinese cuisine, especially Sichuan cuisine, for vegetables, pork, and duck, and is part of the Chinese “five-spice blend“. However, it also goes well with fruit such as pineapple.

The plant is shrubby but can grow into a tree. It has thorns on the trunk and branches, just like roses. Therefore, if you use it whole, you should take a good look at it to make sure there are no thorns in it.

The shrub also does well in Europe and can even overwinter in a protected location.

I have even been able to harvest some Sichuan fruit of my own.

Another pepper substitute that also leaves that tingly feeling on the tongue is Tasmanian pepper.

Tasmanian pepper
Tasmanian Pepper

Here is a brief overview of the proper types of pepper: there are many different ones.

For example, the ones following, all come from the same plant but are harvested at different stages of maturity and processed differently:

  • black pepper: probably the best known, hot, aromatic
  • white pepper: not everyone likes it because of its strong taste
  • green pepper: gives a lemony, fresh taste and is therefore very popular for fish
  • red pepper: is very rare and very expensive, but wonderfully fruity-hot. Like a mixture of green and black pepper.

In addition, there are special peppers, which don’t come from the Piper nigrum plant but also belong to the pepper plants.

For example:

  • Long pepper: looks like a willow catkin, is hard, and between 2 and 4 cm long. It tastes warm, woody, and enveloping. Try the plum jam with long pepper. A delight!
  • Cubeba pepper: it has a little tail on each grain and tastes fresh: like a mixture of pepper and cardamom.
  • Voatsiperifery: the wild pepper from Madagascar convinces with its strong, aromatic taste. Each of the small oval peppercorns has a little tail. Voatsiperifery is collected wild and is, therefore, a rarity and expensive.

It’s best to just try the different peppers and pepper-like spices and decide which one you like best.

Not everything that tastes like pepper is really pepper!

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