Have you ever eaten a Szechuan peppercorn? If you need to think before answering the question, then you almost certainly haven't. Eating a Szechuan peppercorn — which is not an actual peppercorn but the dried husk of a tiny fruit — is as singular an experience as having sex or driving in St. Louis after a snowstorm. There are no analogies. Yes, you might describe the aroma as floral and the flavor as lemony, but that is beside the point. It is the sensation that overwhelms you, a numbing tingle that spreads gradually but unavoidably across your lips and tongue. This effect is bracing enough by itself, but when you use Szechuan peppercorns as a seasoning, they elevate already pungent and fiery dishes to a point of... More >>>
Joy Luck Buffet's Chengdu Spicy Beef. Click here for a complete slideshow from The Joy Luck Buffet.