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.”
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
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.
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.
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!