Posts Tagged ‘Mountain pepper’

Pepper Review – Kampot Pepper Notes

Friday, October 29th, 2010
Kampot Peppercorns - White, Black And Red

Kampot Peppercorns - White, Black And Red

I have been spending some time recently reviewing our pepper range at Steenbergs, including going through the recipes for Steenbergs’ pepper-based blends.  The result is a few tweaks in some of the non-core blends and a few new ones to be added over the next few weeks, as well as the addition over the last year of several interesting and different pepper varieties. 

Selim Pepper

Selim Pepper

So at Steenbergs, we now have pepper from Penja in the Cameroon, Tasmanian Mountain pepper, a wild mountain pepper from Madagascar, all of which add subtle twists to the idea of pepper.  To this, I have just added Selim Pepper or Moor Pepper earlier this week.  The Selim Pepper has a really woody texture so you have to grind it down, then its taste is initially a musty resinous taste that has a smoky tea-like flavour; after a few seconds a bitter chemical warmth (not heat) comes through reminiscent of burnt tyres which lingers in the throat.

This week I have also had some samples of some fine pepper from a NGO in the Kampot region of Cambodia.  The black and red pepper were really fruity and had a milder piperine taste than you normally get.  I reckon that they will be worth adding to range when I can get some stock.  Here are my tasting notes:

Black Pepper: 3 – 4mm, deep brown, wrinkled.  Characteristic musty, resinous warming aroma. Taste: mild, fruity but nice, soft warmth building after 20 seconds which is not overpowering but lingers at back of throat.  No sharpness.  Really good.

White Pepper: 2 – 4mm, off white/tan with shape reminiscent of coriander with base to corn and then striations from base to tip.  No smell of sweaty socks, really clean and well made with almost no aroma.  Taste: hard bite, no fruitiness, immediate intense heat with slight mustiness coming through.  Good but too direct and no particular character.

Red pepper: a real red pepper from Piper nigrum; 5mm, faint redness but browning.  Fruity aroma with a little piperine and a hint of chocolate.  Taste: very special → lots of fruit, followed by mild piperine coming through; warming but not intense.  Glorious, perhaps the best I have tasted.

Kampot Black Peppercorns

Kampot Black Peppercorns

Kampot White Peppercorns

Kampot White Peppercorns

Kampot Red Peppercorns

Kampot Red Peppercorns

Exotic Pepper From Around The World

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

I’ve been hunting for some specialist peppers in recent months.  That’s what some of the thrill of being a spice merchant is all about – hunting for the exotic, tracking it down and then getting it in.

We already have a broader range of peppers than anyone else: vine pepper (Piper nigrum), long pepper (Piper retrofactum), cubeb pepper (Piper cubeba), grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta), Sichuan pepper (Zanthoxylum piperitum), pink pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), allspice (Pimenta dioica).  Vine pepper is what we call the classic black pepper plant;  with vine pepper you get 4 types of pepper from the one vine plant – green, black, white and red.

Now, I have got hold of some wild pepper from Madagascar and bush pepper from Tasmania and I am so very excited, like a little boy in a sweet shop, and cannot stop hopping from foot to foot – a bit sad really.

Tasmanian pepper

Tasmanian pepper

The Tasmanian pepper (Tasmania lanceolata) which is sometimes called Mountain pepper comes from the uplands of Tasmania and South East Australia.  Strangely, the indigenous Aboriginal peoples are thought not to have used these for spicing foods, although this may simply be colonial wishful thinking.  The berries are dark bluey-black in colour and have a 5 – 8mm diameter knobbly round shape, with a ridge around the centre.

In Australia, the Mountain pepperleaf is popular and can be bought ground, having a pleasant, lemon-pepper flavour. 

The berries are sweet at first, but the aftertaste lingers and builds over 5 or so minutes becoming really sharp, pungent and numbing – they are way hotter than classic black peppercorns so use one-tenth of the amount you would normally flavour with and don’t put directly onto food instead use them slow-cooked in stews or soups (they’re just too bitingly hot).  You have been warned!  Another way  it is used is mixed with other native Australian foods to create a bush spices mix of wattle, lemon myrtle and Mountain pepper.

Voatsiperifery pepper vine in Madagascan forest

Voatsiperifery pepper vine in Madagascan forest

The Madagascan wild Voatsiperifery pepper (Piper borbonense) is wild harvested from the forest on an organic cocoa estate, which sits right next to the estate where we get our pink peppercorns on the East coast of Madagascar.  They are called Voatsiperifery deriving from “Voa” meaning the fruits and “tsiperifery” which is the Malagasy for this pepper vine.  The wild pepper vines grow high in the trees, and the fruits only grow on the young, new grown shoots and are hand-harvested from the wild by farmers who go into the forest especially to pick them once a year.

Wild Voatsiperifery pepper

Wild Voatsiperifery pepper

The berries look similar to the comic-book-like bombs of the cubeb pepper (sometimes called Java pepper or tailed pepper) and are 3mm long ovals with a 5 – 6mm long tail.  They have a brown-black colour similar to normal black pepper.

The flavour of these Voatsiperifery peppercorns is earthy and woody taste, with a certain citrus floweriness that gives some freshness to the palate.  The flavours are long lasting.