You can call it a peppercorn all you like, but the peppery ingredient that puts the buzz in Sichuan-style cooking actually isn't one.
Though it resembles and is used in a way similar to black peppercorns, Sichuan pepper isn't a peppercorn at all. Rather, it is the dried rind of the berrylike fruit of the prickly ash tree. And you don't need to be a heat fiend to love it. While it does have a peppery bite, its real power is in the tingling, zingly feeling it leaves on your tongue, rather than a true heat.
In Chinese cooking, the Sichuan pepper often is used with meats and is a basic component of five-spice powder. In this weeknight-friendly beef recipe, we combine the Sichuan pepper with spicy chili garlic paste for a dish that will jump-start your mouth. Serve it over rice or noodles.
Start to finish: 30 minutes (plus marinating time)
1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced across the grain
3 tablespoons chili garlic paste
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper, crushed
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin or rice wine
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
3 scallions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Rice or noodles, to serve
Place the flank steak slices in a zip-close plastic bag. Add the chili garlic paste, ginger and Sichuan pepper. Seal the bag, then massage the seasonings into the meat. Refrigerate and allow to marinate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
When ready to cook, in a large, deep skillet or a wok over high, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the beef and sauté for 8 minutes, or until the beef is browned and starting to dry. Add the soy sauce, mirin, celery, carrots and scallions. Cook for another 4 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp- tender.
Per serving: 330 calories; 180 calories from fat (55 percent of total calories); 20 g fat (3.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 35 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 26 g protein; 770 mg sodium.
© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.
Read more articles by Alison Ladman
What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com
Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)
Here are some rules of the road:
Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "Report Abuse" link to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.
Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.
Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.
Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand.
Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.
Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.
Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.
Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.
Don't flag other users' comments just because you don't agree with their point of view. Please only flag comments that violate these guidelines.
You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "Report Abuse" link to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at email@example.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.
If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them.