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Also known as Japanese pepper or prickly ash, sansho powder is a citrusy-bright spice with an herbal, almost piney profile and earthy green color. Its intense aroma is reminiscent of Sichuan peppercorns, but fruitier, sweeter and less earthy. Sansho also produces a bold but fleeting mouth-tingling sensation similar to Sichuan peppercorns, as well as a subtle mouth-watering quality. Traditional producer Yamatsu Tsujita from Osaka, Japan, uses three sansho varietals to make this powdered spice—Yamakura, Asakura and Budo—so it has loads of citrusy complexity.
Sprinkle sansho powder lightly on grilled meats; its vibrancy will cut through the richness and brighten recipes with just a small amount. The citrus-pine flavors are a great complement for fatty salmon or scallops as well as steamed cod. You can also add it to spicy dishes that could benefit from a citrusy accent, or use it with chilies for a mouth-numbing flavor profile, similar to mala in Sichuan cuisine. Or add a pinch to the Japanese rice seasoning furikake, then toss the mixture with blistered shishito peppers for an addictive appetizer.
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