Sunday, November 30, 2014

Spice Trail Challenge: Pepper

I couldn't decide what to cook for Vanesther's latest Spice Trail Challenge which this month is focused on Pepper so in the last few weeks I have been playing with a range of dishes where pepper is a predominant flavouring, and loving every one. The dish I have finally chosen to feature though is Cambodian Green Peppercorn Prawns, a variation on a dish that would traditionally be made with soft shell crab and which uses fresh green peppercorns which I bought at an asian market.
I took a lot of my inspiration from Rick Stein's book Far Eastern Odyssey which has a whole section on Cambodia and where according to the author some of the finest pepper is produced, in the area around Kampot. I love this book and have cooked many recipes from it that are now favourites, it is one of the last ones I would give up if space became limited.
Rick Stein̢۪s Far Eastern Odyssey
 I was delighted to find Kampot pepper could be ordered in the UK from The Spicery online spice shop and promptly put in an order for that and several other pepper spices.
I really like the small sampler packs you can order, as sometimes you know you just want a tiny amount. I did order full size packs of the two black peppers though, and have been delighted and surprised by how fragrant they are. My early memories of black pepper involved nasty stale tubs of powdered stuff liberally sprinkled on overcooked cabbage. It put me off pepper for a long time.
The packaging from The Spicery is really attractive and would make a nice present of any order. They also do monthly spice packs which include recipe cards and the website is full of useful information and inspiration. I particularly like the Spice Travels section and they are based in Bristol which is one of my favourite cities.

So as soft shell crabs are not so easily available in rural North Devon I hunted around for an alternative and found this recipe for  Green Peppercorn Prawns on the UK  Channel 4 website which was part of the 2012 series 'Spice Trip'. There is also a book of the series titled Spice Trip written by Stevie Parle and Emma Grazette.
Kampot Green Pepper Prawns
Serves 2
1-2 tsp vegetable oil for frying
2cm piece peeled ginger root finely chopped
1 large clove garlic thinly sliced
250-300g large peeled and deveined prawns
1 tbs fresh green peppercorns or pickled green peppercorns rinsed
3-4 kaffir dried lime leaves soaked in water until supple and sliced into strips
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs fish sauce
2 tomatoes skinned and finely diced (at room temperature)
fresh coriander to garnish (I leave this out as I dislike fresh coriander)
juice of half a lime
small amount of freshly ground black pepper (preferably from kampot)
  • Heat a wok or frying pan on a high heat and add the vegetable oil
  • Add the garlic and ginger root and fry until just starting to brown.
  • Add the prawns, green peppercorns and shredded lime leaves and stir while cooking for 1 minute.
  • Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce and cook just enough to heat the prawns through.
  • Add the diced tomato, coriander if using, lime juice, and a little ground black pepper and serve.
For a light lunch I just serve this with watercress but would serve rice too for a main meal.

So that is my chosen recipe but the others I have been having fun with include Beef steak with kampot pepper and lime dipping sauce from the Rick Stein book.
A home made fresh black pepper pasta carbonara where the freshly ground black pepper was incorporated into the pasta dough. Now this one I would not do again as I really don't think the pasta tasted any better than adding a good measure of freshly ground black pepper to the dish and it made the pasta turn a little greyish in tone!
And no photo for this but I also made this recipe for sichuan pepper orange truffles from the Peppermongers website. Peppermongers are another UK source of  various quality pepper spices recipes and information.

So that concludes my November Pepper Spice Trail

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow - these prawns look sensational. I want, want, want! So pleased you managed to link up this recipe to #TheSpiceTrail just in the nick of time. Thanks so much for sharing :) And I really need to check out The Spicery's website...