We only carry one peppercorn with this unique trait – a white color! But the outer appearance isn’t the only thing that makes this precious spice unique. It also has a wild flavor profile unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. We’re talking of course about our Malabar White Peppercorns! This exquisite seasoning has been around for centuries, but has been more recently popularized by the rise in popularity of French cuisine. Those it pairs beautifully with French ingredients and preparation techniques, the Malabar White Peppercorn is a fantastic go to spice for just about any cuisine. You’ll be reaching for it daily before you know it.
Let’s dive right into the history and origin of this truly unique spice. The White Malabar Peppercorn is from the Malabar region of Southwest India. It consists solely of the seed of the ripe fruit. White pepper is made from fully ripe pepper berries. The darker outer skin of the berries is removed by soaking the berries in water for about a week – so that the skin softens and decomposes. It’s that very soaking process that gives the White Peppercorns their distinct earthy perfume. Then their skins are removed, which also removes some of the hot piperine compound, as well as volatile oils and compounds that give black pepper its aroma. As a result, white pepper has a different flavor and heat component than black pepper. The process used and handling of white pepper can introduce different flavor notes as well.
The flavor itself is very complex. Upon first smelling, you’re in store for cheesy earthy notes – maybe even a hint of “something gone bad” – but don’t worry! That’s all part of the layers. The flavor is distinctly earthy and musty with notes of fermented vegetables, aged cheddar, barks and roots. White pepper has a hot taste on the tongue, although sources differ on whether it is hotter or milder than black pepper. For example, Cook's Illustrated says it's milder, while others say it has a sharper bite. Sources agree that white pepper is less complex in flavor than black pepper. It can have a musty, earthy, or grassy flavor, which can vary depending on the type of processing used and handling after production. Some also note nuances of citrus. So many different layers!
Because of the naturally night color of the peppercorn, it pairs well with light colored sauces like hollandaise and veloute. It can also have an interesting fruity citrus kick. White pepper is often used in Vietnamese soups and pork dishes. Hot and sour soup gets its heat primarily from white pepper, unlike other Szechuan dishes where chilies play a prominent role. White pepper is used in Swedish dishes as well, such as Swedish meatballs with cream sauce. We crusted it on Seared Tuna paired with Quinoa, Charred Broccoli, and Tangerine. Whatever you choose to create, it’s going to be a hit when you season with White Malabar Peppercorns!