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Appetite for China

Is that the distinctive pepper in bahn mi's meat?


One of the more disheartening things that I discovered about the Cambodian pepper industry while I was doing some research on it for an article was that most of the black pepper from Cambodia that isn't consumed locally ends up exported to Vietnam ungraded and then graded and mixed in with Vietnam's pepper.

Chad Edward

Why no photos of this morning's omelet?


Appetite - couldn't say for sure, but I've noticed alot of black pepper in Vietnamese charcuterie.

Phil - that is sad. Cambodia needs to get its pepper noticed by some gourmet who can get the word out to specialty stores overseas.

Chad - the photographer wasn't here when I made the omelet! We'll work on coordinating our schedules.

Steven Goh

Woo... the size of vietnam papper looks bigger than in Malaysia. Papper meaning spicy food. I just love spicy food.

I wonder how the people survive the smell while working there.


Just wanted to wish you guys a merry Christmas and a happy new year! And getting a little bit of withdrawal from lack of new posts ^_^


Steven - yes, it is. We did a side-by-side taste test with Sarawak black pepper and found the Vietnamese to be a bit more, well, peppery on the back of the tongue. That said, maybe the Viet pepper we have on hand is fresher than the black pepper we bought in Kuching.

Annie - same to you guys! I'd planned to queue up some posts to run while were gone but, well - best laid plans and all that. More soon. Happy Holidays!


if you have a chance to visit Phu Quoc island, you'll see a lot of black pepper grow on the island. (I believe they're also grown on the Con Son island).

there's a cooking show on PBS, called America's Test Kitchen, and they have segment on testing kitchen utensils (actually,they test everything that's used in the kitchen from bread maker to tortilla. one day, they tested on black pepper, one of the jars contained pepper from VN....they also ranked the VNese's black pepper pretty high.
I don't know the reason why Americans tend to marinate with or add black pepper before cooking. It's knida defeat the purpose of black pepper. In my opinion (I have a rice cooker in my kitchen, that's how much I'm into cuisine, but I like to watch experts prepare food on TV), black pepper is the type of cooking additives should be added after the cooking has been done(not before) to enhance the taste and fragance because when black pepper is cooked , it has a bitter taste, also the fragrance is "vaporated".


Hi Viet - I haven't seen the show, but I know the magazine it's associated with (Cook's Illustrated). Susan Herman Loomis, an American cookbook writer living in France, also rates Vietnamese pepper as among the best in the world (I searched for a mail-order source in the US, to no avail -but apparently it is available in France).

Your observation about marinating with black pepper is interesting. I don't actually prepare many dishes that require marination, except for some south Asian curries that require 'dry' marination in a mix of dried, toasted spices (of which black pepper is usually one). Otherwise, I almost always add black pepper, along with salt, early in the cooking process .... and then more pepper later, shortly before serving the dish. I haven't found that this turns the black pepper bitter - and it's a way of 'layering' flavors. Some of the pepper is mellowed, and the pepper added at the end is sharp.
I have to admit that our tastes are a bit skewed; we probably use much more black pepper than your average American, especially after living in Vietnam, where the pepper was so good we really ramped up the amount added to every dish!
Thanks for your comment.


I love black pepper. I picked some in Kerala (in South India) two years ago...and having just run out issued strict orders to a friend traveling there this fall to bring some back for me. It is far better than what is typically available here. I also cook a lot of Thai food and use Thai white pepper for that - maybe they source it from Vietnam?

I have not tried Vietnamese pepper yet, but will have to do so based on this. I can't get enough of the stuff.

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