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Five Pillars Of Pepper - Part 1

Arthur Huxley - 28-09-2016

Indonesian Pepper

First a little bit of history before we begin our pepper odyssey.

And while it is not the purpose of this blog to burden you with all of the dark depths of pepper history, a brief background is interesting.

To begin we should note that in 92AD Rome's Emperor of the time showed remarkable foresight and had a dedicated pepper warehouse built in the centre of Rome's spice markets.

From this time and even as far back as 20BC there are many accounts of pepper being of note and importance to merchants and traders through the spice roads of the period.

Pepper then moved through the ages, always prized but being responsible for wars, used as a currency and indeed, was the beginnings of trade between Rome and India.

Arriving to today pepper continues its dominance in our culinary world with many countries growing and exporting high quality and valuable pepper.

For our next series of blog postings and for your interest, I thought we could look at a select group of these countries that are growing pepper with distinctive character and more, regional identity.

The five selected are :

  • Indonesia
  • India
  • Cambodia
  • Vietnam
  • Australia

In discussing the above I have focussed on pure peppers. There is of course Szechuan and Grains of Paradise "peppers" - both with a wonderful place in the culinary world but not true peppers in the botanic sense


So to begin, Indonesia: When buying Indonesian pepper select the black pepper from the Lampung region, really a classic pepper with true regional identity. There are other premium regions of course and pepper from Sulawesi is outstanding but not always available.

From our cooking perspective the nice thing to note is the Lampung pepper has a lovely pepper aroma that dominates over the berry flavour. From our tasting notes the pepper flavour was described as "kind of light and sparky with some citrus". Still a little sharp but subordinate to the aroma.

Perfect for using on a beef or pork rub where it allows the other spices to show while giving the full pepper aroma. Similarly use this pepper in any of your Home Chef recipes where the milder citrusy pepper flavour is preferred rather than the "punch" of ,say, a Tellicherry Indian pepper.

Then we have the Indonesian white pepper - black pepper less their skins - and best from the Indonesian Island of Bangka. Arguably the best white pepper in the world, offering a lovely mellow pepper taste but still with a nice "bite" for your sauces and soups. A great back up to stronger flavours in your cooking.

Really worth experimenting in special recipes and great fun to see how it supports your creative skills ! And we would love Home Chef's thoughts, recipes, and comments on Indonesian pepper in their recipes.

Our next Blog post will be Vietnamese pepper.

Our spices begin their journey.