Originally published on whereandwhatintheworld.com
by Genie J. Gekas
A Pink Peppercorn?
A PINK PEPPERCORN?
What is a pink peppercorn and how do I use it? Genie the Spice Goddess answers…
A pink peppercorn is not a true peppercorn, but is the dried pink fruit from the pepper tree. There are two varieties, the Brazilian pepper tree and the Peruvian pepper tree. Since the dried fruit from both varieties is similar in size and shape to the true peppercorn, we find it in the markets as “pink peppercorn.”
I like having this exciting culinary seasoning on my pantry shelf. When adding it to Greek cuisine, I find the sweet-sharp citrusy flavor an interesting contrast to the usual heat of the green or black peppercorn. I recommend using this spice with seafood and in light sauces where the mild taste and pretty pink color enhance the flavor and appearance. I also like using it with fruit and in desserts, or mixed with other peppercorns for color as a ground pepper blend.
The pink peppercorn itself is light and airy, almost hollow in makeup–not firm like a true peppercorn. As such, it’s easy to crush a kernel by hand. If I do use a pepper grinder, I adjust the setting to “coarse” to off-set the peppercorn’s tendency to float instead of sink into the grinding mechanism. I also like using the pink peppercorn whole in a dish to add a spark of color and flavor.
Why not make your own pink peppercorns! Although native to South America, in the United States the pepper trees grow wild in the wet environments of California, Texas and Florida. In fact the Brazilian pepper tree is considered a noxious invasive plant in Florida and is banned. When in these areas of the country and you find the shrub growing in the wild, consider harvesting the ripe clusters of soft pink berries*. Next, spread them out on a baking sheet or drying screen and let them dry out until shriveled and brittle. Then put them in a spice canister and experiment with the flavor in your own kitchen.
*As a word of caution, contact with the Brazilian pepper tree may be irritating to people with sensitive skin. Its toxic oil has been reported to cause skin reactions.
Here is a light sauce recipe where the pink peppercorn shines. I hope you enjoy the fruity aroma and citrus-pepper flavor, and serve it often.
Baked Psari (fish)
2 pounds halibut, mahi mahi, sea bass, or salmon
Marinade & sauce:
Juice of 2 lemons
½ cup olive oil
¾ cup dry white wine
½ cup water
5 tablespoons Aegean Gold Seasoning
1 tablespoon butter, 2 or 3 twists of ground pink peppercorns
Preheat the oven to 375. Wash the fish and pat dry with a paper towel. Coat bottom of baking dish with olive oil just to coat. Mix the juice of one lemon, olive oil, ½ cup white wine, water and 4 tablespoons Aegean Gold Seasoning to make marinade. Mix well. Dredge the fish pieces in marinade and arrange in baking dish. Pour any excess marinade over the fish and sprinkle with the last tablespoon of Aegean Gold Seasoning. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Pour remaining wine and juice of second lemon over fish. Place little dabs of butter on hot fish. Twist two or three turns of the grinder you have with pink peppercorns in it. Before you serve, be sure you baste the fish in all that wonderful sauce around it – don’t waste a drop, it’s great over rice, too! Genie’s hot tip: Always use real lemon juice, not bottled. And don’t toss out the squeezed lemon – throw it in with the sauce to add extra flavor as it cooks.
Genie J. Gekas, aka Genie the Spice Goddess, does her lineage proud by sharing her culinary tradition with the world. Born into a Greek family in Tucson, Arizona, she learned to cook while standing on a stool in her parents’ 5-star restaurant with its European and Greek cuisine. Growing up, Genie the Spice Goddess loved the Sunday dinners in her home, with at least 15 people sitting down to a weekly feast or holiday celebration. Always experimenting with new flavors and dishes, Genie the Spice Goddess created Greek Village Market so she could share her family’s Greek cooking traditions with you and yours. Although she learned the “pinch of this and a pinch of that” approach to seasoning, she’s scrupulous in the measurements for her packaged seasonings, so you’ll always enjoy the best of Genie the Spice Goddess. Watch for her latest book, Greek Recipes and Remembrances by the Spice Goddess. Visit Genie the Spice Goddess on Facebookhttps: http://www.facebook.com/