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Green Peppercorns


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I was wandering around Chinatown last night, and to my excitement I found packets of fresh green peppercorns, still on their stems. I last saw those in Cambodia late last year, where they turned up in a dish of stir-fried prawns. I fell in love with their tangy heat on the spot. :smile:

I've found a couple of cooking suggestions for them in David Thompson's Thai Food book (a relish, a stir-fry with pork, and a curry with pork), but I'm interested to hear about other preparations. Any culture, and tradition - post your green peppercorn experiences here!

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I recently used them with a whole beef tenderloin. Split the tenderloin in half lengthwise, spread with dijon mustard, sprinkle with green peppercorns and top with fresh sage. Tie the roast, brush with melted butter and season with salt and peppercorn blend. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. This was a real hit at my dinner party.

"Never eat more than you can lift" -- Miss Piggy

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I think the fresh ones need to be treated/altered a little bit before using them. I tried a couple straight off their stems last night, and they nearly knocked me sideways. (Remember, and I'm a girl who LIKES really spicy things.) I notice that the Thompson suggestions call for all sorts of other ingredients to temper the ferocious bite of raw green peppercorns, and the ones I had in Cambodia had been cooked.

Maybe I should get some pickled green peppercorns and do a side-by-side taste test?

(Oh, I come up with all the best experiments, I do.)

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You get fresh green peppercorns in England? I'm green with envy, since I've never seen them in the US. They turn up in a variety of Thai curries, particularly the coconut-milk-free jungle curries. They're left on the stem--otherwise, the fruits would just fall to the bottom of the bowl. A little simmering seems to mellow them a bit. Wonderful stuff.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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Mamster - we even have then up in Edinburgh, very commonly infact. I'm very surprised that they haven't turned up in the USA, some type of restriction on importing them maybe.

They have a nice fruity hotness, but often I find them very bitter (when eaten raw), prehaps cooking mellows this bitterness.

Tip: They don't freeze well, you end up with mushy black peppercorns.

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I've bought them in Chicago, so they do make it to the US. I haven't found them yet in Portland though (but I have a kilo of fresh kaffir limes in the fridge so I'm happy). I've had ok results using the ones frozen from Thailand. They do turn black but they weren't that mushy and were better then the canned ones.

regards,

trillium

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I bought a package of dried green peppercorns but have since been unable to find a single recipe that calls for them. Is there anything I can do with them besides put them in a clear acrylic pepper grinder for that oh-so-gourmet look. Will soaking them in vinegar make them like the brined ones?

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  • 3 months later...

I remember having them in a Thai dish called Drunken Duck. I didn't realise what they were until I'd put one of the little bunches in my mouth and chewed for a few seconds. My mouth was on fire. I don't remember any other flavours they imparted though - I'll have to try them out myself if I ever see them for sale.

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In Bangkok they often show up in guaytiaow phad kee mao (stir-fried rice noodles --- I prefer wide --- with chiles, basil, a few veggies, and meat of choice). The crunchy peppercorns make for the perfect textural contrast with the soft, slippery noodles.

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  • 5 years later...

Just back from Thailand and fell in love with fresh green peppercorns, which I've never seen here in the US. While I'm arm-twisting my local Asian grocers, I have been wondering if French cans of brined green peppercorns are a non-horrible substitution. I fear not. Thoughts?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Both ways I encountered these have been mentioned here....namely, a sprig in Jungle Curries and also in Green Curries. I can't remember this always being the case.

Anybody know if it's possible to grow these in the UK?

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Growing a black pepper vine is very feasible in what used to e known as "stovehouse' conditions in the UK. A very large terrarium, even one cobbled from 4 sheets of plexiglass, will do. A potted pepper vine can be kept trained within 1 meter and should produce a few bunches. Mind, this is not cost effective, compared to the frozen berries available at Thai groceries, simply for fun!

You will need to provide light, not ILLUMINANCE as sensed by the human eye and measured by camera light meters, but photosynthetically active radiation: warm & cold fluorescent tubelights. Peppers won't need much, 200-300 micromoles of photons per square meter per second of photosynthetic photon flux density [this is the technical specs for a plant light meter such as Licor: borrow one from a plant lab] should be enough, excessive actually, but I am allowing for all sorts of things like there not being reflectors to scatter the light evenly into the plant canopy etc. Pepper is an understorey plant, generally having "shade" leaves.

Reasonably high humidity but airflow as well, so as not to attract pathogens. A tiny fan set to a certain gentle speed and angled up just so. If you have a huge marine aquarium, empty, that too is very useful for growing this pepper plant which flourishes best 8 degrees north and south of the Equator. So you may imagine what types of climates please it best. Temperature should never be extreme, mid 70sF nights, mid 80sF days.

It is grown in shade, often as part of an intricate plantation that duplicates in certain respects the vegetation or folige strata present in an equatorial forest. Typically, coconut palms form the forest canopy here, their leaves taking the brunt of the full sun, 1700 micromoles plus, getting light-saturated, getting very hot as well, with all sorts of pluses and negatives for net photosynthesis.

Down below, peppers coil around the palm trunks, taking advantage of the shade + sunflecks, moments of bright illumination; they are able to process these very efficiently, unlike the continuous light of fluorescents mentioned above.

Such plantations often also include another palm such as the areca, small understorey trees such as cloves and nutmeg, and a final herbaceous layer on the “forest” floor: arrowroot, cardamom, ginger, even “wild” turmeric.

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I wonder if I could get away with growing it in Zone 10? From reviewing the companion plants, they all thrive here. We do hit the 40's from time to time in the deep winter, but not for extended periods. Maybe in a container on the porch in the shade, that I can bring in on the coolest nights?

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Anne,

My home is in Bengal, 22.5 degrees North, with a climate somewhat warmer than yours, year round. Many years ago, we planted a great many pepper vines in a mango orchard but none succeeded even given our very mild and dry winters, much wamer than yours. But that was for a field trial. Some types of cocoa do succeed there, but not pepper, green cardamom or coffee, as far as I have been able to determine, try as I might over several decades.

That does not mean a potted pepper vine cannot do well with you, provided it comes indoors! Left outside even at 40-60F, it won't die but MIGHT suffer "chill injury" and will be reluctant to produce fruit. There is also the low humidity to consider, during the winter months. At least, that is my suspicion, YMMV, and you certainly should give it a try.

Cinnamon is one shrub that will do fine potted or outside, especially C. cassia/obtusifolium/tamala. Please do let me know if you manage to locate either of the last 2 species, as I am anxious to find seed or seedlings. These are the Indian cassia leaves used as "bay leaf" in cooking and the fresh or fresh green-dry is incomparably superior to what is found here.

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  • 2 months later...

I used the green peppercorns last night in a fresh rice noodle dish (basil, shrimp, simple sauce) and they were very good: a bit too salty of course and not as bright on the tongue. But, heck, they worked just fine.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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