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White Pepper

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What do you use it for? Do you use it frequently? Do you have a dedicated grinder for your white pepper? Do you use a different grind than when using black pepper? Do you use it ground or whole? What kind of white pepper do you use - Sarawak, Muntok, Penja, or ... ?

1. Seasoning in dishes where ají or other capsicum spice is too unsubtle.

2. Yes.

3. No - I use my mortar and pestle

4. Moot point. The grinder is full of mixed peppercorns for finishing; for single types I always use the mortar and then grind to the consistency I want for the particular dish.

5. I use a deep-jungle grown peppercorn from Orellana (i.e. domestically grown pepper), for both my black and white pepper needs.

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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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What do you use it for? Do you use it frequently? Do you have a dedicated grinder for your white pepper? Do you use a different grind than when using black pepper? Do you use it ground or whole? What kind of white pepper do you use - Sarawak, Muntok, Penja, or ... ?

1- Thai and many Chinese dishes. White pepper is the default kind in Thailand and some other parts of Asia (and even Europe). And also in light-coloured western dishes where I don't want black flecks.

2 - Yes, frequently.

3 - Yes, I have a dedicated ginder for white.

4 - Yes, for western dishes I usually grind it very fine to avoid flecks (it's not really 100% white, so finer is better for hiding flecks)

5 - Both. Coarse grind and/or whole for Thai cooking, fine grind for western.

6 - Thai for white pepper. Black pepper from Vietnam or India. Some white pepper can be a bit funky as a result of the frementation used to get the skins off. I avoid those. It's good to find a source where you can smell before you buy... in my case, I'm often buying in markets in Asia, so that's not a problem.

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Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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I like white pepper with tarragon and sherry vinegar.


“I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted" JK

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I love white pepper in my Hot and Sour Soups!!

That's exactly what I did last night! I've used Joyce Chen's recipe since forever; she specifies white pepper.


Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

 

-The mosque is too far from home, so let's do this / Let's make a weeping child laugh.

    Nida Fazli, poet, 1938-2016 (translated, from the Urdu, by Anu Garg, wordsmith.org)

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Hot & Sour Soup is normally done with white pepper, yes. Not black pepper. Much of the Chinese/E Asian/SE Asian cuisines use white pepper, rather than black. I can only suppose that those who detest, absolutely detest, white pepper do not eat food from such cuisines (e.g. do not eat any Chinese food in proper Chinese restaurants)...

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1. Seasoning of different things primarily vegetables and eggs however

2. No

3. Yes

4. No

5 Both ways and I do have a dedicated grinder for it and our usual tabletop grinder is a blend.

6. Usually Muntok but sometimes other ones.


I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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I've written quite a bit about various types of peppercorns on my blog.

In the photo you can see a grinder labeled Muntok, with the white peppercorns. I have another, non-battery for the Sarawak.

I use it quite often - there are certain dishes with delicate flavors that can be overpowered by the strong aromatics in some peppers. And in some white dishes one does not want black flecks - most recently I prepared creamed cipollini onions and used the white Sarawak pepper as it seems just a bit milder than the Muntok.

I grind either one quite fine for applying to melons, fruits, etc., except when I want the flavor of a different type of pepper.

I add some finely ground white pepper to the sugar/spice mixture for apple pie, gingerbread, other spiced quick breads and also sprinkle just a bit over the slices of pineapple before pouring in the batter for pineapple upside-down cake.

I use CRACKED white pepper in homemade pickled peaches and pickled yellow squash - imparts the desired flavor and the appearance is neater - I also use white mustard seed for the same reason.

I have yet to order any of the Penja because I still have a supply of the Muntok, Sarawak and some Talamanca del Caribe I got for Christmas.

I've never noticed a "horsey" smell with white pepper - or "barnyard" and I was born and raised on a farm with lots of horses and a great deal of "barnyard" and did my fair share of mucking out stables. The rule was, if you had a pony (later horses) you cleaned up after them yourself or you paid the stablehands out of your own allowance.

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I've never noticed a "horsey" smell with white pepper - or "barnyard" and I was born and raised on a farm with lots of horses and a great deal of "barnyard" and did my fair share of mucking out stables. The rule was, if you had a pony (later horses) you cleaned up after them yourself or you paid the stablehands out of your own allowance.

Well, I am also a New York City guy.. I once told my wife, my friend was Woodsy and Outdoorsy because, he liked to wear clothes from LL Bean. My wife's brother in law built his own house in the woods and has lived off the land for many years.. That's what her idea of woodsy was.


Edited by basquecook (log)
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“I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted" JK

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I agree with other posters - I was somewhat surprised to see people saying that white pepper is simply black pepper with the skin removed - while this might technically be true, it tastes entirely different.

White pepper is essential for many Chinese and Thai cuisines and preparation. Especially hot & sour soup! And crying tiger.

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I use it in congee, with roasted/steamed/sautéed vegetables, in vinaigrettes and in things where I want some "heat" but not the telltale flecks that black pepper provides.

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I'm also always slightly miffed when I read that white pepper is just the inside of black as I too detest the smell and taste of white pepper (always reminds me of the smell of the rotting chicken) but adore black pepper. Thankfully I haven't (before now at least) noticed the use of white pepper in Chinese dishes, so perhaps the aroma I dislike is just easily overpowered by some flavours.

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Amy - is it possible that you dislike the raw aroma, but enjoy it when it's cooked or mingled with other flavors? I too was put off by the odor of white pepper when I first encountered it on its own, not realizing I had been consuming it in hot & sour soup (among many other dishes) for years.

 

Similar to fish sauce, it might be just one of those things that is off-putting to certain palates on its own, but an essential & delicious ingredient in combination with other foods, or when cooked?

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I've never liked the flavor. Always seemed sharp and one-dimensional (althought this could be a self-fulfilling belief ... my white pepper doesn't get used, so it's always old ...)

 

I mostly see it called for in light-colored recipes, which makes me think people like primarily for esthetics. I just live with the black specks.


Notes from the underbelly

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 My favourite white peppercorns are Sarawak White which come from Malaysian Borneo. They are very pale ( due to being soaked in mountain streams for 2 weeks), clean and have a rich-winey flavor and a big kick of heat. Black pepper has a big aroma and intense fragrance that it imparts to food and this takes a long cooking time before it begins to break down. White pepper has a delicate aroma and subtle fragrance but this breaks down quickly with cooking leaving just heat. For this reason white pepper is best suited for use after cooking,  towards the end of cooking or with  foods that cook very quickly where you want to add a subtle pepper flavor and heat but not substantially change the flavor of your food (which black pepper would do). Great with all fish, crustaceans & shellfish, veal, savory cream and egg dishes. For a white pepper that is not as hot as Sarawak I like Penja Pepper best ( also known as the Pearl of Cameroon). Penja are large and light tan in color rather than white and add a beautiful soft, subtle woody note, again best with already cooked foods or proteins that cook quickly. Great with deep fried salt and pepper dishes especially squid or tofu, omelets & scrambles, crab, crayfish/lobster, seared scallops. 

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I think in smells of barnyard....rotundone is the culprit.

Good article by Harold McGee:

What’s the Peppery Note in Those Shirazes?

 

In a follow-up column to that piece, he talks about causes of off-flavors and aromas, which he says can (but don't necessarily) arise during the curing/fermentation process: 

 

It turns out that the off-flavors develop during the fermentation. Pepper is grown and white pepper produced in the tropics, and thanks to the heat and the stagnant fermentation water, microbes flourish that break down peppercorn flesh to variations on the molecule indole and other compounds that smell rotten, fecal, cheesy, and chemical. The chemists showed that if the peppercorns are kept in constantly flowing water for just a few days, the fleshy layer can be removed with little or no development of off-flavors. 

 

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That's why I love this site, someone always manages to come up with a plausible answer - it hadn't occurred to me to wonder how the black layer is removed, but the stagnant water makes sense. I'll have try and source some quality white pepper to test the difference

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@ Amy D.  -  It's also possible that some folks (maybe a lot of folks) like the smell and flavor of even non-flowing-water-washed white pepper?  Just speculating.  :-D  ;-)

 

But yes, "clean-tasting/smelling" white pepper perhaps would be a more approachable ingredient.

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I think an analogy with cheese could be useful here. many cheeses begin in the same way with similar ingredients but the softer, delicate white cheeses must be made quickly in sterile bacteria free conditions to give their taste, color and texture. The darker, more pungent blue cheeses can't develope their distinctly robust flavors without time and bacteria. Each is admirable in a different way and preference simply a matter of taste, palate, pairing.. Pepper is the same I think. What we call true peppers come from the same plant,  piper nigrum, but the end product is determined by ripeness at harvesting and processing. Enjoying one white pepper doesn't mean you can't  enjoy another. Loving black pepper doesn't mean you can't learn to enjoy white and preferences are just that, prefernces, not rights or wrongs. Living in times of abundant food means we have the luxury to choose our preferences and to be inclusive or selective.

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