The King Of Spice

Picture of pepperI’m a pepper fanatic. By my estimate, it’s the King of all spices.

It has been said, that in the history of the spice trade, no other spice had such an impact on early exploration, commerce, different cultures and their cuisines.

During the European Middle Ages, pepper was like black gold and considered as valuable as money.

Landlords would accept pepper as rent payments. Hence the term ‘peppercorn rent’, which for some reason means the opposite these days (cheap, like my first apartment).

Pepper is the dried berry obtained from a climbing vine, originating from Asia.

Black, green and white peppercorns are the exact same berry, but picked at different stages of development or processed differently.

Cayenne and red pepper are from a completely different source, originally used as a substitute, to the once expensive peppercorn.

The spiciness comes from an alkaloid called piperine.

White peppercorns have had the husk removed; therefore they contain less of the piperine flavour.

Pepper is at its best, freshly milled, when you require it because factory ground pepper goes stale quickly.

Peppered Calamari

  • Clean and slice squid tubes into 2cm thick rings.
  • Combine a cup of plain flour, 1 teaspoon of freshly milled black peppercorns and a teaspoon of red chili powder.
  • Toss the calamari rings through the flour mix.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a wok until lightly smoking and then add the calamari rings.
  • Cook for approximately 1 minute, add 1 teaspoon of thinly sliced red chili and remove from wok.
  • Place on absorbent kitchen paper to remove any excess oil. Serve on garden salad with fresh limejuice.
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