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Green sansho pepper - Sanshō-no-mi

Green sansho pepper - Sanshō-no-mi

Normal price €12,75 EUR
Normal price Offer price €12,75 EUR
Offer Out of stock
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Our sanshō or sansho pepper from Wakayama is undeniably one of the better sanshōs. To bring out the subtle mint and citrus flavors, the slightly bitter, oil-rich seeds have been removed.

No new supply from Japan is expected in the short term. 

The sanshō or Japanese pepper is related to the Chinese Sichuan pepper and the Nepalese timur, but unlike these two brothers or sisters from the Yellowwood genus (Zanthoxylum), the leaves, flowers and shoots of the sanshō tree are also eaten. Sanshō, by the way, means mountain pepper.

Sanshō pepper has been used as a spice for thousands of years, one suspects, because there is no conclusive evidence for this. It was called naruhajika during the Nara era in the eighth century, and used as a medicine to treat diarrhea. It would be used primarily as a medicine for a long time to come. Only in the Kamakura era (1185 to 1333 AD) would it be used again by the samurai as a spice during hunting. Dating from that period is unagi, a dish of freshwater eel with sanshō pepper.

It is now a prominent spice, even one of the few spices in Japanese cuisine. The unripe green berries are called sanshō-no-mi. These are sharper and more aromatic than the red sansho. The first green sanshōs appear on the market from May, the red ones in October. 

One of the first preparations with sanshō ever was described in the Okusa cookbook from the fifteenth century. An eel dish. Since then, eel in Japan has always been prepared with sanshō or, in extreme cases, with shichimi tõgarashi (seven spice powder). 

In Japan people eat the berries (fresh and dried), the leaves and the young shoots. This is not the case in most other Asian countries. The unripe green berries are very popular because of their flavor palette and tartness. Although the red berries are more expensive, because of their more pronounced citrus flavor they are not as appreciated by many as the green ones, which are called sanshō-no-mi.

In Japanese cuisine, hardly any spices are used. Sanshō is almost always used. When a Japanese uses 'our' black pepper, he is very selective. Almost all black pepper in Japanese cuisine comes from Sarawak, the Malaysian part of Borneo.

Our sanshō pepper is grown and comes from Wakayama, the beating sanshō heart of Japan since the end of the 19th century. They are grown by the fourth generation of the Kaneichi family business, founded in 1880 by Yamamoto Katsunosuke. 

The unique sharpness experience of sanshol

Characteristic of all Zanthoxylum peppers, and therefore also of sanshō, is the tingling you experience on the tip of your tongue due to a substance in the pepper called sanshool, named after the Japanese spice. The pungency is caused by the amides in the peel of the fruit: α-, β-, γ- and δ-sanshool, α hidroxy sanshool and β-hidroxy sanshool. γ sanshool and α hidroxy sanshool are mainly responsible for the anesthetic effect. The amount of α-hidroxy-sanshool in the berries can amount to (more than) 50 ‰ of the dry weight, of γ sanshool around 5 ‰.

Ripe berries are sharper than unripe ones.

The tingling is accompanied by a slight numbness, jokingly compared to tasting a 9 volt battery. One single berry is enough to experience that! This somatosensation, stimulation by touch, has been used as an anesthetic in traditional medicine in Asia for centuries. The effect is very complex and the subject of extensive studies.Hydroxy-α-sanshol in particular is said to cause the tingling, and there are certain parallels with the pungency sensation of capsaicin, the pungent substance in chili peppers, but also with menthol and mustard oil. 

Smell and taste

Sanshō is a relative of citrus, which you experience in a scent that is a mixture of grapefruit, lemon, sereh and rosewood. In between you taste and smell - very slightly - mint. Characteristic of all Zanthoxylum peppers, and therefore also of sanshō, is the tingling sensation you experience on the tip of your tongue due to a substance in the pepper called sanshool, named after the Japanese spice.

  • linalyl acetate, responsible for a pleasant citrus, bergamot and lavender scent,
  • limonene, the smell of lemon peel,
  • citral, the scent of grapefruit,
  • geraniol, rose scent,
  • geranyl acetate, lavender scent.
  • β-pinene, pine resin, and
  • linalol, responsible for the scents of rosewood and coriander

A ripe berry contains considerably more linalol, geraniol and geranyl acetate than a green berry. The aromas develop during maturation,


Sanshō pepper combines excellently with citrus (kafir leaf, yuzu or sereh), coconut, coriander and curry leaves, miso and soy sauce.


Except for dishes with freshwater eel - don't forget how heavily the eel stock is under pressure - sansho is delicious with white and red meat, duck, fish and crustaceans, (arrow) squid and desserts, especially those with chocolate. Sanshō is a key ingredient in Shichimi Togarashi, Japan's 7-spice spice, and is used in Japanese noodle and miso dishes.


  • 100% dried fruits of Zanthoxylum piperitum
  • premium quality: max 5% seed
  • origin: Wakayama, Japan


  • available in glass, stand-up pouch and test tube
  • glass jar contains 30 grams
  • stand-up pouches with a capacity of up to 30 to 300 grams
  • available in 10 ml test tube
  • larger quantities on request

Gift packaging

  • the jar is available in a tasteful gift packaging, consisting of a cube box filled with black tissue paper
  • for an overview of our gift packaging, please refer to the gift packaging section

General advice

  • sanshō pepper is the Szechuan pepper for the refined kitchen, and can be used both cold and hot
  • use sanshō in moderation, and add it after or at the end of preparation
  • give the sanshō berries time to absorb moisture so that the flavor can develop optimally


  • store your sansho pepper in closed packaging
  • preferably store in a dark, dry and cool place
  • best before (n/a)

Inventory item

Due to serious delivery problems, our stock is (almost) exhausted. We are currently waiting for positive news from Japan. If you would like to be kept informed, please let us know.

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