Japanese Pepper from WAKAYAMA

Sansho (Zanthoxylum piperitum)

Sansho is a plant species that is native to Japan. It is said to be the oldest Japanese spice and thus is called “Japanese Pepper” in English. Budo-Sansho - a variety that belongs to the Sansho species - is known as a specialty of Wakayama Prefecture, and is grown mostly in the town of Aridagawa. It bears large fruits that look like grapes and have a refreshing aroma like citrus fruits. They are also known as “Green Diamonds”, and are considered to have the highest quality aroma-wise. The sansho fruit is very small, only about 5mm in diameter, but as the saying goes, “Sansho has small grains, but still packs a peppery punch,” it has a refreshing fragrance and a numbing stimulation that can be felt even in small amounts. In the traditional herbal medicine, Sansho is said to be effective in stimulating the functions of organs and improving indigestion. All parts of the plant, including the young leaves, mature leaves, flowers, fruits and rinds, have an aroma and are utilized. Sansho is particularly associated with Japanese cuisine, but it is also used around the world by chefs in starred restaurants, pastry chefs and breweries. The unique aroma of sansho is attracting international attention.

Text in collaboration with: Aridagawa Town, Wakayama Prefecture

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