All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Kinome young sansho leaves

Leaves of sansho Zanthoxylum piperitum

Place a leaf on your palm and hit it with your other hand, and a spicy and fruity aroma wafts up.  Yes, fruity. Despite the common name -- Japanese pepper tree -- this shrub is not a pepper tree at all but belongs to the citrus family. The shrub is also sometimes called Japanese prickly ash, and outside culinary circle it receives lots of praise for its open branches, yellow autumn color, and bumpy bark when older. The branches are traditionally used to make surikogi pestles.

For cooking, the green leaves of late spring or early summer are a common garnish for a number of dishes. They are also chopped and added to marinade or sauce, or ground to make dressing.
The leaves have a subtle spiciness that makes your tongue tingle while the aroma of fresh citrus fills your nostrils.

Young sansho leaves are called kinome, which literally means tree buds.

My sansho shrub starts to leaf out in June – it is the last shrub in my garden to take action. Every year, I look forward to its short season of green leaves to taste with fish.

Aside from leaves, sansho fruit is used as an ingredient in tsukudani, a strong-flavored little dish often used as a rice topping, and dried fruit skins are made into powder, which is also an ingredient of shichimi pepper spice.

Hua jiao, Sichuan peppercorns, is the dried fruit (and skins) of a relative shrub, Zanthoxylum bungeanum.

Recipes with kinome

Try kinome in the following recipes

(Last updated: June 11, 2016)

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