Chinese Salt & Pepper Seasoning is a classic found in many dishes in British Chinese takeaways. Now you can make at home and create all of your favourite salt & pepper treats yourself!
what is Chinese salt & pepper seasoning?
If you’re not from the UK, or haven’t stumbled across UK Chinese takeaways on TikTok, you might not know what salt & pepper seasoning is.
Although most people know of salt & pepper seasoning from Chinese takeaways, it is in no way an authentic Chinese recipe.
Fish and chip shops in Liverpool owned by Chinese immigrants invented the seasoning to be sprinkled over chips in the 1960s. Since then it has become incredibly popular with British Chinese takeaways.
The delicious combination of ingredients makes this an incredibly moreish seasoning that you’ll want to sprinkle over everything!
why make your own chinese salt & pepper seasoning?
As salt & pepper seasoning has become more popular, there have been more ready made options available to buy.
As with the majority of shop bought seasonings, they tend to include preservatives and other ingredients. If you make the seasonings yourself, you know exactly what is in it and you can also tweak it to your own preferences.
Is there Chinese 5 spice in salt & pepper seasoning?
There are a number of recipes for salt & pepper seasoning available as well as ready made options you can buy. However a lot of them include Chinese five spice as a key ingredient.
I like to think of myself as a Chinese takeaway connoisseur and have tried different takeaways all over the country and I don’t believe Chinese five spice is commonly used in salt & pepper seasoning.
The star anise gives five spice quite a distinctive flavouring which I don’t believe is in Chinese salt & pepper seasoning. This is why I don’t include it in my recipe, but you can of course add it if you would like.
What ingredients are in salt & pepper seasoning?
As I have already mentioned, I don’t add Chinese five spice to my seasoning; so what do I add? These four ingredients are all you need for a delicious, Chinese takeaway style seasoning.
Salt won’t come as a shock I’m sure! I often use sea salt in cooking, however for this seasoning you just need standard table salt. It is much finer than sea salt and can distribute more evenly throughout the seasoning.
Due to the salt content of this recipe, this seasoning isn’t something you would eat everyday. If you are worried you can use low sodium salt or just use a smaller amount of it when cooking.
Szechuan peppercorn powder
Szechuan pepper is a key ingredient in this seasoning, you can’t just use black pepper. I don’t like black pepper, but Szechuan pepper has a milder, citrus like flavour.
It also provides a slight tingling numbness which adds to it’s addictive flavouring.
Sugar doesn’t make this seasoning sweet, it just helps to balance out the rest of the flavours.
You can use caster or granulated sugar for this seasoning. I prefer caster sugar because it is finer than granulated but it won’t make a huge difference.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is an incredible flavour enhancer commonly but not exclusively used in Asian recipes.
It has received some negative press in the past but I would urge you to do your own research before jumping to any conclusions.
I think it really elevates this seasoning and therefore I wouldn’t encourage you to leave it out. However if you really don’t want to use it, you can leave it out.
Where to buy the ingredients you need
You can buy table salt and caster sugar in any supermarket with no issues whatsoever. But you may not know where to buy Szechuan peppercorn powder or MSG.
The first place to look would be an Asian supermarket if you have close to you. Here you will easily find both of the ingredients easily.
Some large supermarkets now stock Szechuan peppercorns, however you will need to grind these to use in the seasoning. You can do this with a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder.
It may be easier to buy Szechuan peppercorn powder online if you can’t get to an Asian supermarket and don’t have a spice grinder.
You will be able to find MSG in Asian supermarkets or online.
How long will salt & pepper seasoning keep for?
This Chinese salt & pepper seasoning will keep in an airtight container or jar for up to one year. After this, the flavours may not be as vibrant, but the seasoning will still be perfectly fine to use.
The recipe as written doesn’t make a huge amount of seasoning. You can of course scale it up and make a much bigger batch.
how to use salt & pepper seasoning
If you are familiar with a British Chinese takeaway menu, you will probably have a few recipes in mind. Salt & pepper chips, chicken and chicken wings are all incredibly popular and where I would definitely start.
After you’ve tried those classics, you can experiment a bit more. Sprinkle the seasoning over a roast chicken for instant flavour. Add some to vegetables or in a stir fry as an easy way to elevate a dish. Get creative!
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Chinese Salt & Pepper Seasoning
Chinese Salt & Pepper Seasoning is a classic found in many dishes in UK Chinese takeaways. Now you can make at home and create all of your favourite salt & pepper treats yourself!
- 1½ tbsp table salt
- 1 tbsp Szechuan peppercorn powder
- ½ tsp caster sugar
- ¼ tsp MSG
Add 1½ tbsp table salt, 1 tbsp Szechuan peppercorn powder, ½ tsp caster sugar and ¼ tsp MSG to a bowl or jar
Stir or shake to combine all of the ingredients
Yes, this recipe does have a lot of salt in it. You can swap it for low sodium salt or use less of it when cooking. It isn’t recommended to eat this seasoning every day.
Nutritional information is given as a guide only and may vary.