While I was in Turkey, my friend Aylin took me to a marvellous sweet shop in Kadıköy – Sekerci Cafer Erol, an old family business specialising in lokum (Turkish delight) and pulled sweets in all kinds of exotic flavours. The proprietor, M. Nurtekin Erol, let us taste various things, including some experimental lokums made with flavourings such as Turkish coffee and black pepper.
Of course I’d arrived in Istanbul with a small supply of Chinese cooking spices, just in case, and so I returned to the shop a few days later with a pot of top-grade Sichuan pepper from my friend Yu Bo’s restaurant in Chengdu. I thought they must have fun playing with it, and told them a little about its uses in Sichuanese cookery.
To my surprise and delight, they called me soon afterwards to tell me that they’d made up a batch of Sichuan pepper lokum and wanted to give me some. So I went back to Kadıköy and tried it – somehow they had brought out the fresh, floral, citrussy aspects of its scent and flavour, and it also had the slightly numbing effect on the mouth that you might expect. Has anyone tried this before? Somehow I doubt it!
I took a boxful of this revolutionary lokum to the Oxford Food Symposium and offered it around to general approval.
Has anyone out there tried any other unusual experiments with Sichuan pepper?