Japanese ingredients for your healthy life

Brands and products for Japanese pepper

What to look for in the shops

When you go to the supermarket or Asian supermarket and have a look for sansho pepper you may find a number of brands and wonder what to choose from. There are two major companies producing sansho pepper. They are the well known S&B and House Foods Group Inc. Although some others may offer excellent quality products too, I would certainly recommend these two as they have been proven over time to offer a high quality product. Here is a little about these two companies.


It was founded in 1923 by Mnejiro Yamazaki. He was born in Saitama and went up to Tokyo when he was 17. He was working for a sauce shop at first, then fork lifting for the company when he got into Japanese style curry. He studied and experimented a lot then he became the first person to manufacture Japanese curry in Japan. That was the start of the famous S&B company, which is very passionate about spice! Now, S&B is found everywhere in the world.


House Foods
It was founded in 1913 and the start was the same as S&B.. they produced curry paste first. House Foods was located in Kansai (west Japan), while S&B was located in Kanto (east Japan). House is very famous for Japanese curry paste as well. So S&B and House are competitors. Their head office was moved to Tokyo in 1997.


They are both great companies and therefs nothing about one that is better than the other to be honest. All the products are good so itfs just about personal preference for most people. Also, some say S&Bfs sansho pepper is a bit bitter compared to Housefs sansho pepper, some people like Housefs curry paste so they stick with the same company for sansho pepper too. As long as there isnft a huge price difference, you can try them both and see which one you prefer, just like you would with your favorite brands for your clothing or shoes. Honestly, they are quite similar though and unless you have one particular brand on a daily basis and have conditioned your tongue to only enjoy that brand then then you wouldnft be able to find the taste difference between both high quality products. So go to the supermarket, go to the Asian food section and find a small green bottle which says either S&B or House! The bottles look like normal pepper bottles so it should not be so difficult to find them.

A little about the product

Or.. if you can get a sansho tree plant.. you could grow one in your garden, try not to get sansho tree seeds because it takes a long time to grow from seed. Here is the information about sansho 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 you need a system for controlling that too.


Sansho trees have both female and male strains so remember that only the female strain can get sansho fruits, and of course you need a male strain next to it too. There are unisex strain trees too these days. You can transfer it from a planter to another planter but once itfs on the ground you cannot move it because just a little scratch on their roots could kill the whole tree. 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 the 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. But remember, butterflies and caterpillars love these leaves and fruits so they all eat off if you are not careful. Also, they need enough water the whole time and an environment with lots and lots of moisture with some shade.


It will be very difficult to find sansho trees outside of Japan so realistically, unless youfre very, very keen on learning the art of growing sansho pepper trees, itfs preferable to just buy the pepper from the shops.


Herefs a little idea on how to use sansho pepper in your cooking if youfre not sure how to use it! Try making a delightful little condiment from spring onions.
To make this dish, prepare a skinny spring onion, 1 tsp of sansho pepper, a touch of salt and 1 to 2 tbs of sesame oil. Chop the spring onion up every 5mm to create a collection of finely chopped spring onions and put them into a bowl of water and leave it for 10 minutes. Drain the the water away after ten minutes and add in the sesami oil, a touch of salt and the sansho pepper. Thatfs it, you have a nice little tasty side dish! Of course, you can scale down any of the ingredients in this dish or add more to taste as well to make it to your liking!
When buying sansho pepper, I recommend that you try S & B or House products when first trying sansho pepper. Ifd go with either of these products to begin with an just buy the cheapest one. If you havenft tried sansho pepper yet, give it a go, it may just become your favorite seasoning!