Took a tip from rosulate about the fresh green peppercorn dishes at this Medford Square spot. In general I like the food here, but thought I’d try this specialty for lunch.
Got the bone-in chicken version, they also make it with beef, catfish filet and frog leg. It’s a fascinating menu item, and not for the faint of heart–it’s loaded up with tons of green peppercorns (that are not really peppercorns but berries from a species of Zanthoxylum aka prickly ash, like the much more common red Sichuan peppercorns) and a broad assortment of multicolored chili peppers. Lots of chopped up hunks of chicken, plenty of green scallion and a broth that is complex with flavor while at the same time it’s, well, punching you in the face. I’m not a spice wimp but this lunch had me sweating a bit and my mouth sure was numb by the end.
The green peppercorns have a fascinating flavor, they seem a lot more delicate than the red, and are almost citrus-y. They also lend an extra crunchy texture to the dish, helping ensure that there’s a lot going on here. The broth is really the star of this though, I was just eating it with a spoon–it’s filled with many layers of flavor.
I did wonder after eating this if the catfish wouldn’t be the way to go. I’m betting that for a protein, some flaky white fish would be the perfect complement here. Anyway, since you don’t see a lot of green peppercorn dishes on menus in these parts it’s worth a shot trying it at Chili Garden in Medford Sq, if you can take the heat.