Szechuan (or Sichuan) pepper is the outer husk of the fruit of the Chinese prickly ash tree. The berries are dried and split open, and the bitter seeds inside are discarded. The flavour of Szechuan pepper is very fragrant, lemony and pungent and it has a biting astringency on the tongue, which can create a tingly numbness in the mouth. The husks can be dry-roasted and ground, then used to make seasoned salt or as a rub on grilled meats. Szechuan pepper is used in spicy Szechuan dishes such as má là hot pot (literally “numb and spicy”) and is a key ingredient in Chinese five-spice powder.