Sansho - The Japanese Pepper

October 09, 2018

Sansho is native to Japan. The leaves are usually used as a herb, however it is often referred to as 'Japanese pepper.' It comes from a plant called the prickly ash which is closely related to the plant that szechuan pepper is harvested.

Sansho has been used in Japan as a herbal medicine to treat diarrhea and other digestive functions during the Heian era (794 - 1185 AD) and is still believed to benefit bodily functions by some people to this day.

It is very tangy, peppery with a slight numbing quality. Mostly known as yakumi for Unagi (Eel) but there are many more ways to use sansho. Sansho leaves, seeds and even flowers are used in Japanese cooking.

Buy Sansho in our online store. 

Mi-Sansho (Mi-zansho)

Sansho plant

Sansho is ripe in summer. Harvested while they are still green. It resembles caper. Adding unripened sansho to Nimono (slow cooked meals) will take the smells from meat and fish, and adds a slight tangy, spicy flavour to the food.

Ripened Sansho is used for sansho powder. When its ripened, red and dried it can be then be powdered. That result is the sansho spice that is used on unagi. 

(Dried sansho)


Hana-sansho (Hana-Zansho)

It is used as an accent for some dishes. Not as spicy and tangy as the seeds. It is added to some nabe hot pot meals and Aemono (vinegar and dressed dishes).



Sansho leaves are called kinome. Leaves are used as herb, for toppings. It adds a slight citrus-ish flavour to the food. Also it is used in miso paste sometimes, it gives miso a unique tangy taste to it.


Sansho powder

Sansho is unlike to any spices that is used in western countries, so i suggest you to try it out. We sell both unripe sansho seeds and sansho powder. Also, see some of our recipes for sansho here.

Buy Sansho in our online store.

Also in Education

Japanese Noodles and How to Serve Them
Japanese Noodles and How to Serve Them

April 05, 2019 0 Comments

Noodles are eaten a lot in Asian countries compared to western countries. Probably the most known Japanese noodle dish is ramen, But are you aware of the other...

View full article →

Cherry Blossom & Sake
Cherry Blossom & Sake

April 01, 2019 0 Comments

It is sakura - cherry blossom season in Japan. It has been a long standing tradition that the Japanese people celebrate the blooming of the sakura. The ohanami (sakura viewing...

View full article →

Types of Soy Sauce
Types of Soy Sauce

March 18, 2019 0 Comments

Almost all traditional Japanese recipes use soy sauce. It has also become a staple ingredient for many other recipes from around the world too. A lot of people have it in their...

View full article →