Spice Up Your Life
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February Feature: Sichuan Peppercorns
Recipe: Crispy “Sichuan” Hash browns and Egg
1 Large Russet Potato
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 scallion or green onion sliced
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. rice vinegar
5 eggs (4 for meal, 1 for potato mixture)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. Sichuan Peppercorns
Grate the potato using a box grater, or a course blade in a food processor. Place grated potato in the center of a clean towel, wrap, and squeeze out excess water. Transfer to a bowl. Add red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, scallions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and 1 egg. Mix ingredients together until thoroughly combined. In a 12” skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add in the peppercorns and allow them to toast in the oil for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Using a slotted spoon, remove peppercorns and discard them. Turn up heat to medium high. Divide potato mixture into 4 portions, add them to the pan in order to make 4 pancakes. Use a spatula to press each into an even circle and cook until the bottom is golden brown (5-8 minutes.) Make sure to shake the pan to prevent sticking or add additional oil as needed. Flip the pancakes over and cook until golden brown as well. Meanwhile, cook the eggs sunny-side up. Serve with eggs over the pancakes, and enjoy!
History & Uses
Sichuan pepper is an important spice in Chinese and all the cookery of the Himalayas. Sichuan pepper has a citrus-like flavor and induces a tingling numbness, akin to a 50-hertz vibration, in the mouth due to the presence of hydroxy-alpha sanshool. While whole, green, freshly picked Sichuan pepper may be used in cooking, the dried Sichuan pepper is more commonly used.
Sichuan pepper usually known as huajiao 花椒 (flower pepper) in China today serves as a good example to show the historical "piquant" flavor of Sichuan cuisine prior to the introduction of the hot pepper. The application of Sichuan pepper to food and drinks in China dates back more than two millennia. The native Sichuanese use the peppers to make flavors in their tea, wine, and of course, in daily cooking. After the 16th century when most Chinese cuisines had abandoned the Sichuan pepper as a common spice, the people in Sichuan kept using it in cooking to produce a unique tingling flavor, which along with the hotness generated by the newly introduced hot peppers, produced the distinct taste of today's Sichuan cuisine.
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