Prickly Ash Recipes
You can forage Szechuan peppercorns-it's true. Prickly ash, also known as toothache tree and wild Szechuan peppercorns (Xanthoxylum americanum) are a cousin to plants used in Asia, the "fruit" of which is the common Szechuan peppercorn or Sichuan pepper.
If you're new to this plant, please read The Forager's Guide to Prickly Ash.
Most people will know the numbing seed husk that you can buy in Asian markets, but the wild plants have other interesting parts you can use in the kitchen too: unripe seeds, and very young leaves.
The seed husk is the part that is used in cooking, preferably after the gritty tasting seed has been winnowed or removed. I typically dry them and store in the freezer to keep their flavor bright.
The unripe, green seeds are used in Japan where they're known as Sansho pepper and are used to infuse oil and other things. I really like to ferment them in brine or sprinkle them on dishes with fish.
In Japan the young leaves (kinome) are used and they can be a great addition to certain dishes.
It's important to know that I've tasted wide variation in North American plants, and most don't taste as good as the Japanese version.
You can substitute foraged prickly ash in any dish that uses Szechuan peppercorns. The wild version is typically less numbing than commercial varieties so I usually double the amount called for in recipes if using my own dried prickly ash berries.
Dried Mushroom Szechuan Chili Crisp
Prickly Ash Sausage
Fish Sauce-Pickled Enoki Mushrooms
Wild Mushroom Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Soup)
Grilled Hen of the Woods with Ginger-Soy Vinaigrette
Fermented Knotweed Pickles
Szechuan Parsnip Leaf Salad
Wild Szechuan Peppercorn Jerky
Watermelon Pickles With Zanthoxylum
Chilled Melon Curry with Kinome Leaves