Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My first food blog gift - specialty peppercorns

A couple of nights ago, Hubby came home from work with a small bag of something very strange looking.

Hubby: "M2* sent you something."
Me: "Yeah?"
Hubby: "Yeah, but I think he thinks he'll get on your blog."
Me: "What is it?"
Hubby: "Peppercorns."

(* M2 is our friend, Hubby's co-worker, and a fellow foodie.)

Hubby handed me a bag of what looked like the most immature peppercorns I have ever seen. No, they were pods. (Most peppercorns look like tiny bunches of grapes. These were even smaller and resembled immature pinecones. That is why I have termed them pods.) Upon opening the bag and taking a whiff, I knew that these were peppercorn pods like no other. There seemed to be a hint of cardomom there and, after touching the pods, my hands smelled of Vietnamese cassia cinnamon.

I decided that I needed a neutral, yet warm vehicle to open up the flavors of this very unique and small peppercorn variety. Having just made a vat of chicken soup, I set aside a small amount of the broth for testing the pepper.

I heated the broth to a comfortably warm temperature and pounded half of a pod in my trusty mortar and pestle. Smashing the pod resulted in the release of many tiny reddish-brown peppercorns. I further smashed some of the peppercorns, while leaving others whole. I sprinkled them atop the chicken soup broth and inhaled the scent.

I then drank the mixture. One sip. Cardamom. Two sips. Nutmeg/cinnamon. Then, a hint of black pepperiness. Some heat, but not too much. Delighted, I ran upstairs and searched on "cardamom peppercorn". To my surprise, I found an article about the Indian Long Pepper (pipalli).

Now, I really cannot say with absolute certainty that the pods that M2 gifted me were truly pipalli, but perhaps M2 himself can tell me so.

I am now setting some pods aside for mixing with vodka (long live the ardent spirits), as well as for use in a fruit salad and, perhaps, a mild cheese dish or appetizer.

(By the way, my pairing of the pipalli with the chicken broth was inspired, as I have now discovered several internet home remedies using pipalli to clear the sinuses.)

Thanks for sharing, M2!

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