Japanese ingredients for your healthy life

About Japanese Pepper

A great Japanese seasoning

Well, what is Japanese pepper? Actually, it is not a pepper as such but it is called either Japanese pepper or Sansho pepper. Sansho is a Japanese prickly ash, usually sold and used in its ground form, especially in asian cuisine. It is delicious when sprinkled over grilled foods like teriyaki chicken and kabayaki eel. It has a strong aromatic spicy taste making it something that some people love and some people want to have. Another name for this is Zanthoxylum piperitum, have ever heard of this? If not, then check it out at Wikipedia, you can read about it and see the images of them!


This sansho is made from the leaf buds of the plant, they are dried out and ground down to fine particles to be sprinkled onto food. Supposedly, sansho is good for digestion. They are picked by humanfs hands in the bush, died and smashed into a powder. They are used to make noodle dishes and soups, it gives an aromatic lemony flavour to food you put it on. The famous Japanese seasoning eShichimif has sansho in it too! Shichimi chilli pepper is a classic Japanese spice mix containing seven different type of ingredients, one of them is sansho pepper.


Both China and Korea use this type of pepper in their countries too but they are all slightly different, especially the flavour. Well, it makes sense that we have different types of meals in each country.

So good for you and tasty too

Letfs have a look at Japanese pepperfs good points.
It removes fishy smells from fish and strong smells from meat too..
It is an antiseptic.
It improves your appetite.
It has medicinal benefits.


The common use is for unagi don which is grilled eel on the rice and it is very popular. Also, for yakitori too, yakitori is grilled chicken sticks. Have you had them before? It really works well and you can enjoy a eJapanese dishf because Japanese pepper gives a different flavour to European dishes. Just to note a little tip, this Japanese pepper is volatile so the flavour goes if you leave it too long so you should add it in your meal just at the end. Also, you could put some in your soup dish too to add a little flavour to it. Some people may not get to used to it because it has a strong taste but once you get to used it you will enjoy it for sure.


One of the above Japanese pepperfs good points was that it has medicinal benefits. Let me explain how it is good for you. Japanese pepper was used as a digestive medicine and an intestinal remedy in olden times in Japan. It contains a -Sanshool and sansho amide which stimulates your brain and activates your internal organs. Just recently, in some of the popular TV programs in Japan, Japanese pepper was introduced as a product that is helpful for burning fat in your body!. So it is a great pepper for losing and controlling your weight and it is good for your diet! As long as the taste is alright, you could put some on any fish or meat actually, it helps you to digest food and heats you up to burn some fat in your body. It sounds good, doesnft it? Especially, if you are used to herbs, it would be just another herb to line up in your pantry to enjoy cooking with and selecting to add extra flavour to your dishes. Because of the stimulation of its flavour, itfs a little famous in Japan as some people sprinkle it on every dish they havel.. Itfs a bit crazy but Ifve never heard about them ruining their health though. If you can imagine taking any herb too much, that would be what it is. Shichimi is basically the same too, especially for some people who love hot food. Bottom line is that this food is something you could easily fall in love with and it wonft be bad for your health, far from it, it offers many health benefits and makes great meals even better!


Sansho has a slight lemony flavour but often you may not be able to tell, you are more likely to recognize it as a herb. It is actually a kind of citrus and it comes from trees. The tree usually grows up to around 3m and the tallest youfd be able to find would be around 5m in height (just like the orange trees). The branches have thorns like lemon trees and rose trees and this tree has both female and male strains just like kiwi fruit trees if youfve ever seen them before. It is a very skinny tree, the diameter of the stem is only 5 mm. The green fruits ripen and redden in autumn, they use these fruits as well as buds and leaves to make the pepper.


Sansho (Japanese pepper) trees are grown deep in the bush as they like to be in a place where there is a lot of moisture. However, you must maintain the moisture well otherwise they could easily get diseases.. and also swallow tail type butterflies love eating the sansho fruits so cultivation is not easy. It is a very sensitive tree but it grows a lot quicker than being in a planter so move it very carefully.


Harvest time is usually in the Summer for the young green fruits and in the start of autumn for the ripe fruits, they do use buds too so they are picked in the spring. It takes 20 years to be able to pick sansho fruits if you start from the seed, so usually they use a part trimmed from a tree so that you can get fruits the following year if you maintain it well. Also, they need enough water the whole time and an environment with lots and lots of moisture with some shade.


Sansho pepper is a must have item in the kitchen if you like Japanese food. Itfs a curious pepper with extremely difficult cultivation methods but the end product is fantastic. If you havenft tried this give it a go!