Szechuan Peppercorns Add Zing To Asian Dishes While labeled as peppercorns, Szechuan peppercorns are actually dried berries of a variety of ash tree. The Szechuan peppercorns have a brown outer shell with a black seed inside. For culinary purposes only the brown outer shell is used. The Szechuan peppercorns can be used in several ways. One of the most popular is to heat a dry skillet and add the peppercorns. Shake the skillet until they start to smoke a little. Be careful not to burn them. When cooled they can be ground in a spice mill or in a mortar and pestle. You can add these to your favorite stir-fry. The spice has a unique aroma and flavor and is characterized by its numbing qualities in the mouth. Look for clean Szechuan peppercorns when purchasing, i.e. free of twigs and residue at the bottom of the package. This is an indication of quality.