My husband was very smart this year and got me gifts from my Amazon wish list rather than trying to surprise me with gifts I don't want. I know, that sounds terrible but he has a habit of getting me things I don't like even though I make it easy for him by always giving him several options. So this year I made a long list on Amazon so that he felt like it was more of a surprise.
I'm so happy because my first gift arrived today: Szechuan peppercorns! Not just szechuan peppercorns; 1 POUND of them!
Aren't they beautiful!?! I can't wait to use them. They smell like heaven and make me feel like I now own a pound of some illegal substance rather than a spice. Nothing beats that "ma la" (tongue-numbing spicy) high. No drugs for me, thank you. Just szechuan peppercorns!
So expect to see more dishes with this spice in it. If you can't find them at your local Asian market (I couldn't) then you can buy a smaller amount from Dean and Deluca and other retailers via Amazon. Mine are from J.R. Mushrooms & Specialties.
Note: Szechuan Peppercorns are not actually a pepper. They are dried ash berries from a tree that is a member of the citrus family. From 1968 until 2005 they were illegal in the U.S. since they carried a citrus canker virus. Now they are legal but must be heat-treated to kill the canker virus before being sent to the U.S.