Between the sea and the mountains on Cambodia’s south eastern coastline lies the province of Kampot. It’s here that pepper plantations thrive in ideal growing conditions. The ancient red soil, rich in quartz and other minerals, joins with (usually) abundant rainfall and sunshine and producers’ traditional, natural farming methods to nourish the piper nigrum vines producing the world’s most exceptional pepper.
The flavour of the peppercorns is simply outstanding – like a happy little explosion in the mouth – vibrant, distinctly fragrant and full of flavour. Spicy, floral, a little citrus and sweetly herbaceous. The beautiful flavour pleases the mouth for ages and enhances the flavour of companion ingredients.
Friend & Burrell distributes the pepper sourced by Kampot Pepper Traders. Our pepper, entirely grown and produced by leading Cambodian farmer Anna Him at Starling Farm, leads Kampot pepper production. It’s literally the cream of the Kampot crop, every peppercorn being single estate and single harvest preserving the integrity and consistency of the pepper.
Kampot pepper is called the “champagne of pepper” – like the bubbly drink, it can only be grown in a specific area in specific conditions meeting strict requirements meeting the strict requirements of the Geographical Indication protection awarded by the European Union. GI status gives global recognition to the unique excellence of Kampot pepper and its inherent connection with its place of origin (its terroir). GI distinguishes Kampot pepper from generic versions of similar pepper. Be alert to the many imitation pepper corns on the market described as “Kampot pepper” which use the title illegally – and be assured that there is a substantial difference in flavour and quality between the real thing and the imitators.
During the annual harvest (February to May) each bunch on the vine is hand picked and entirely hand processed. From each bunch every individual berry is picked and sorted by hand – green and red. The red is a more mature version of the green berry. The white is from the same berries left longer on the vine and processed differently.
The individually picked spicy green pepper berries are transformed into aromatic black pepper corns by a process of simple blanching in clean water, then drying in the Cambodian sun. Blanching then drying the pepper in the sun forms a husk which keeps the spicy compounds and essential oils trapped inside.
The black pepper has a strong and clear aroma. Its flavour obviously depends on how it’s used and can vary from intensely warm and spicy to mildly sweet. Think eucalyptus or mint and real freshness. The riper (red) berries are from the same vine at a more mature stage of ripening. The red has a more subtle heat and spicy kick than the black and is also sweeter. Don’t be fooled – it still bursts with a spicy warmth and sweetness that goes beautifully in most dishes especially desserts. Fantastic with chocolate. White pepper is from berries left longer on the vine but stripped of their husk after being blanched for longer. It has its own beautiful spicy warmth and flavour.
The additional processes and methods involved in producing red and white pepper mean they’re only available in limited quantities each year – typically only a few hundred kilograms.
Each of the chefs and cooks who use our pepper has a favourite colour for their own reasons. Each of the peppers is fantastic to eat with all foods, especially seafood. The pepper lifts the flavour of any meat or poultry, adds a beautiful vibrancy and depth in salads, fruit and vegetable dishes as well as in drinks (smoothies, ginger beer, cocktails and vodka).
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