The flavor of this cacio e pepe recipe is really full-bodied–and delightfully East meets West-esque. The black and white peppercorns provide warmth and spice, and the Sichuan peppercorns leave that most excellent tingly numbness in your mouth, giving the dish a whole new level of complexity.
First, cook your spaghetti following the package instructions, adding a few good pinches of salt to the water. Also set a timer for 1 minute less than the recommended pasta cooking time. This is key for final orchestration of this dish)!
Mix together your peppercorns and load into a grinder. Alternatively, you can pre-grind in a spice mill or a mortar and pestle. A good mix of a coarse and fine grind is just perfect.
When there's about 4 minutes left for your pasta to boil, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. The pan should be big enough to accommodate all of the pasta.
Add approximately 2 teaspoons (eyeballing it is just fine) of your cracked peppercorn mixture into the oil. The pepper should sizzle to infuse the oil (make sure the pepper is getting gently fried rather than crisped and burnt in the oil).
Remove 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water from the pot, and transfer to the oil and pepper mixture, turning the heat up to medium high. Be careful, because there's quite a lot of sizzly water-on-oil action!
Your pasta should be 1 minute away from al dente by now. Drain the pasta and add to the oil mixture in the skillet. Toss quickly, and add the pecorino and parmesan. While you're at it, add some more of your peppercorn mixture to taste, depending on your preferences for spice. The world is your oyster!
Stir and toss the pasta until there are no more cheese clumps left and the excess water has cooked off into a smooth, silky sauce. Top with a sprinkling of more cheese and more cracked pepper.