Chinese prickly ash

Chinese prickly ash

Chinese prickly ash was recorded in The Book of Songs compiled some 3, 000 years ago. Although this plant can grow in most parts of the country, the Sichuan people are known for their love of Chinese prickly ash. A lot of Sichuan dishes are named with "ma" numb, a physical effect created by Chinese prickly ash on the tongue. At Sichuan restaurants flourishing across the country, one can always delight in a simple dish called mapo doufu-a tender bean curd fried with Chinese prickly ash and hot pepper. Besides being an important seasoning for Sichuan cuisine, Chinese prickly ash has also been used n many other ways. Li Shizhen, a renowned doctor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), once cured an old woman of diarrhea with this plant. The strong smell of the dark brown seeds can drive away ants, flies and other insects. In the past, imperial lades lived in rooms where the walls were paved with Chinese prickly ash. Besides driving away insects, the multi-seeded plant was also seen as auspicious for families anticipating many children.