When Patrick goes away without me, I always ask him to bring me a gift when he comes back – and so, when he went to Cambodia, he brought back Kampot pepper.
This pepper is famous for its complex flavours and pungent aroma – even our cat Sam was curious about it.
Kampot pepper used to be an essential spice in many famous European restaurants during the mid 20th century but faded from the world market due to the actions of the Khmer Rouge regime. It is slowly making its way back, but the production is still very small and the Kampot pepper is not widely distributed (yet).
Kampot pepper farmers grow the pepper without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilisers. They have passed down their knowledge from generation to generation and still follow the old traditions.
The individual peppercorns are picked by hand to ensure the best harvest time – depending if you want green, black, red or white pepper.
Green pepper is the unripe berry of the pepper plant, while black pepper is the sun-dried product of green pepper. Red pepper is the sun-dried product of the fully ripened berry, the berries are left to turn red on the vine before harvesting. White pepper comes from fully ripened berries.
Patrick brought me some ground black pepper – so I searched for Cambodian recipes to use this pepper. I found some fantastic beef recipes, which I adapted slightly.
1 Tablespoon sugar
3 Tablespoons Kampot pepper
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1.5 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 fresh lime, squeezed so that you have the juice ready
300g beef, cut in small stripes (but you could use junks too)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Dash of fish sauce
First, I combined sugar, black pepper, soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes and half the lime juice in a container. Then I stirred it well and added the beef. I added a few extra red pepper flakes and pepper on top of the beef to ensure all pieces were seasoned well.
I let it marinate for 1 hour in the fridge. In the pan, I fried some onions in oil and then added the beef with the marinade.
Once the beef was cooked, I added fish sauce and the remaining lime juice and mixed it well. I could have served it with some lettuce leaves, so you can wrap the beef – but instead I just decided to serve it with steamed rice and pak choi that had been quickly fried with garlic.
The dish was very nice – quite hot for my taste, with all the pepper and chillies. Patrick thought it needs more pepper, so next time I’ll season his share with more pepper.