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FAQ Subject: Sichuan pepper and prickly ash
I did an extensive search for information the spice my grandfather fell in love with in the 1800s during a trek to the Himalayas, Tibet, Nepal, and Northern India. Then It was known by the British as Nepal pepper. He carried a supply with him at all times in a sterling silver pepper shaker. I inherited the shaker in 1977 and carried on the family tradition. I ran out of my extensive supply of the spice in 1997. Nepal pepper (carried by Spice Islands brand until 1965) is no longer marketed by any spice supplier that I can find. Have you any info re Nepal pepper?
If you search the web for prickly ash by using Google you will find that it may not be indigenous to China originally. It is grown almost around the world and is processed to extract essential volatile elements for use in nutrition and health. It represents a sizable cash crop in the southern U.S.
I must be profitable business or a closely hidden secret, because my lengthy search for plants,seeds, and berries brought no response.
As soon as I get some sichuan pepper I am going to cook a big batch of "Q."
Seems to me that you have done a pretty thorough search. My best suggestion would be to visit oriental grocery stores.
The Southern Prickly Ash, Zanthoxylum clava-herculis (hercules club) grows locally. The trees and bark make the tongue tingle and was used as a toothache remedy by Native Americans and early settlers. While I have tasted the bark and leaves, I have not tried to grind the brown seed pods.
Good luck on your quest. You have piqued my curiosity. I will be looking also. Please keep me posted.