Prickly ash berries, wild pepper, Zanthoxylum rhetsa ໝາກແຂ່ນ mak ken

Wild pepper
Wild pepper, Prickly ash berries

Mak ken is used widely in northern Laos. The berries are smaller than Sichuan pepper, but they taste virtually the same. They may be a wild variety. Only the outer casing is eaten. The black seeds are removed before cooking as they are very bitter. Mak ken makes the tongue tingle and go numb. The berries are roasted, pounded and used in jeow, stews and sa low ( a Tai Lue dish from Muang Sing). Akha also use them in their recipes.