Monday, December 14, 2009

Bubbly Pomegranate with Szechuan Buttons

Szechuan Buttons

Yes, many people got it right this time! It’s Szechuan buttons. I received a few samples of Szechuan button from Marx Foods last week. Until then I’ve never seen or even heard of this ingredient before.

Szechuan buttons, also known as buzz buttons, Sechuan buttons, toothache flowers, toothache plant, sansho buttons or electric buttons, originally come from Brazil. What’s so special about this flower is that they have an effervescent-like effect, causing a tingling sensation when placed on the tongue. While the whole bud is completely edible, the petals are often used by sprinkling on drinks and dishes. According to Marx Foods, “the primary use of Szechuan buttons in the culinary industry is as a cutting-edge cocktail ingredient, where their carbonation-mimicking effect evokes champagne bubbles without having to add seltzer.”

Pomegranate

I pinched off a little bit of tiny yellow petals and put them on my tongue. At first, it tasted like grass, then a couple of seconds later, it started to buzz my tongue like an electric shock. Really! I’ve never had anything like this before and this ingredient is purely for the sensation and not for the flavor. It’s also very subtle when compared to carbonations or any other stimulating spices like peppercorn, chili or wasabi. So it needed something boring plain based, to bring up the effect of this bubbly buzz.

Pomegranate

I’m not skilled at all when it comes to making drinks and cocktails. That’s why I had to rule out the cocktail option. I had some wines, but it’s just seemed wrong to add or mix anything in drinking wines. So I went with making homemade pomegranate juice with Szechuan buttons. I love pomegranate but if I had a choice, I would much rather prefer eating it than juicing it. Because I love the texture, I get more out of it + fiber and it takes longer to eat than just drinking it. I collected the seeds in a cup and smashed them with a wooden spoon. Since I’ve never made pomegranate juice, if you know a better way, please educate me on this.

Pomegranate Juice with Szechuan Buttons

I sprinkled some petals but it wasn’t enough and I actually had to add some sparkling water, too.
I can see how it would be great for cocktails though. Sprinkling some in the drink or adding them on the rim will not only make it pretty but also pleasantly surprise people.

Pomegranate Juice with Szechuan Buttons

I meant to show you another food that I experimented with using Szechuan buttons, but I was out all day today and it’s already my bedtime. So stay tuned for the next one to come, hopefully before next week!

13 comments:

  1. They look like chamomile buds!!! Thanks for the new ingredient...it's cool you came up with an interesting use for it!

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  2. I'll bet pomegranate juice went really well with these buttons and I love how the fresh pomegranate juice looks in your photos.

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  3. Ooo, I had one of those a few weeks ago at a foodie fair and wow, that was an interesting sensation!! I got about half a button, so imagine the effect that had. Reading this post, funnily enough got me salivating again as that is what the button did in ridiculous amounts... Thanks for the background info on those little buttons. Strong things they are! Interesting also to add them to a drink. I wouldn't even know if you can buy them anywhere but it would definitely be interesting for a special cocktail!

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  4. Suppose you could have bought the 100% juice in the curvy bottle but what's the fun in that?

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  5. How cool is that! They look beautiful!
    I never worked with Szechuan button before. i'm intrigued. I may have to order some.

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  6. What a pretty and fascinating ingredient. I'd love to try it one day. Your bright photos are wonderful as well!

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  7. So I'm pretty much very jealous of your photos :) Also, you just made me want pomegranate seeds

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  8. Aren't pomegranates beautiful? Great photos!

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  9. How interesting! I have never heard of Szechuan buttons, but they certainly seem like an interesting ingredient. I love what you did with this cocktail and your pictures are stunning. Excellent!

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  10. Your photos are beautiful....................miniature works of art!

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  11. I had never heard of Szechuan buttons until now! What an interesting ingredient. Your photos are gorgeous and I love the idea of adding a bubbly/fizzy element to the pomegranate juice! Happy New Year!

    ps: I think it would be a great ingredient to add to white wine mixed with fruit juice (pomegranate, strawberry or citrus!)

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  12. your pictures are incredible, such a beautiful site!

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  13. Tasted the buttons in a food show in Dubai, they are mind boggling

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