Spices Lafayette | Smoky Long Peppercorns

Smoky Long Peppercorns

Katherine Loffreto

The Smoked Long Peppercorn is one of those spices that you try once, and reach for again and again. It’s addictingly piquant and has a tantalizing smokiness that will have you putting it on everything. While you might initially think that a smoked peppercorn is limiting in its versatility, it’s actually quite the opposite. The depth and complexity of this particular peppercorn is wide, and includes notes of dried fruit, sweet cinnamon and clove, as well as earthy umami nuances. The smokiness itself is not over pronounced and instead of adding an intense bonfire flavor to your creations – adds instead a lovely implication of having been grilled over a wood fire.

Let’s dive into the origin of this spectacular seasoning. The Smoky Long Peppercorn makes its way to us all the way from South Africa! For centuries, this storied peppercorn was quite popular in Mediterranean, African, Indian, and Indonesian cooking. In fact, it was a medicinal ingredient long before a culinary one. Long Peppers are believed to be the first to reach the Mediterranean. It was even more highly regarded than the now more common round peppercorn. The long version remained in Europe long after the fall of Rome, well through the middle ages. In the 1400’s the pepper lost out on the popularity contest to the smaller round peppercorn. As new waterway routes opened up, the cheaper round pepper flooded the market. And thus, the long pepper was banished to the back of the cupboards. Until now…

Long pepper has a bit more heat than traditional round peppercorns. They’re rich with complex undertones of warm spices and woodsy nuances. The gentle addition of smoked makes the final flavor palate that much more interesting. The Smoky Long Peppercorns can be paired with a myriad of ingredients, from light salad greens and spring vegetables, to heartier stews and braises. It can even be paired with dessert! Things like rich chocolate, dark caramels, coffee, and tropical fruits would all benefit from a little crack of Smoked Long Peppercorn.

There are a couple different options for using this strangely shaped spice. It can be snapped or cut into small pieces that will fit nicely into your manual or electric spice grinder. Alternatively it could be roughly ground in a mortar. If you want to use it in a truly authentic manner, store the peppers whole and grate them with a microplane into the dish. Doing this a la minute will help the spice retain its volatile oils and therefor flavor and aroma. Lastly, if you’re working on a sauce, stock, or braise, the peppercorn can be dropped in whole, used to infuse flavor, and removed later. We think this exquisite pepper would be wonderful on braised lamb shanks with mole, or for a lighter preparation cracked over a salad of shaved summer squash with lemon and nice olive oil. It would make an incredible addition to grilled pineapple with salted caramel, or even a rich coffee chocolate cake.

The possibilities are endless with this amazing spice, and we can’t wait for you to discover your favorite way to use it!