whole - vietnamese
cracked - vietnamese
fine ground - vietnamese
Black peppercorns are grown in a variety of locales and the environmental conditions in these areas lend different flavor notes for acidity, sweetness, and citrus. Vietnamese peppercorns have an intense aroma but a more mellow taste, with flavor notes of smoke or wood and medium heat. Quality black peppercorns are uniform in color, with darker berries being more flavorful.
The natural mate to salt, whole peppercorns offer a pungency to everything from salads to steak and they're a perfect ingredient to add a bite to brines for pickling or corning proteins like beef for pastrami or corned beef. In this cracked form they are ideal for salads or foods in need of texture.
Split to reveal beige cores, these are dark brown-to-black in color, dried, wrinkled spheres.
The natural companion to salt in all savory foods and excellent with juniper for game or thyme with chicken, with other peppers for rubs and marinades, and it’s a natural for garam masala and chai spice blends.
Papaya seeds, capers or coriander seeds for a similar bite, or white, green, pink peppercorns for a milder taste. Other good substitutes for heat are chiles, cayenne, or Szechuan peppers.
PROCESSING / FORM
A little goes a long way with black pepper. Taste as you season your dish to ensure that the pepper doesn't overwhelm the other ingredients. Like lemon, a dash of pepper adds excitement to every dish.
As with many spices, black peppercorn was at one time not just a luxury spice but also was used as currency. The phrase "as dear as pepper" was used to indicate something's tremendous expense.