The Herb Stop Blog
What Is A Pepper
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a chili pepper, black pepper and paprika? Here is some information on some of these fiery hot spices and not so hot spices:
Green, Black, and White Peppercorns
Green, black and white peppercorns are actually the fruits of a tropical vine, piper nigrum, a species entirely different from the capsicum peppers, (bell pepper, cayenne, chili pepper, paprika). The spiciest of this group is the black peppercorn, picked when unripe, and then dried. If instead of being dried, the unripe berries are freeze-dried or submerged in brine, it becomes the kinder, gentler green pepperco ripen on the vine, and then is shorn of its outer skin the milder white peppercorn is created.rn, with its fruity olive like flavor. When the same berry is left to
Pink peppercorns are berries from a South American tree, schinus terebinthifolius. Pink peppercorns add mild pungency and stunning color to food. They can also be added to teas, such as chai, for a little spice.
Szechuan peppers grow in the Szechuan region of china on a large tree, but now cultivated as a shrub. It is also known as Chinese pepper, fagara and anise pepper.This aromatic dried berry has a hot woody flavor and is one of the ingredients of Chinese Five Spice powder, and is commonly used in Asian fish dishes. Dry-roasting it before use heightens the flavor. Medicinally, Szechuan peppers stimulate the spleen and stomach to assist digestion.
Cubeb pepper is also known as piper cubeba and is related to black pepper. Compared to pepper, cubeb is a lot more fiery and aromatic, mostly used in Indonesian cooking. Cubeb is also very popular in Egypt and other countries in the Middle East. Medicinally, cubeb berries have been known to relieve coughs, sinusitis, and throat infections, as well as for an upset stomach, indigestion and urinary tract infections.
Grains of Paradise
Grains of Paradise are also known as aframomum melegueta, once used in place of pepper, when the price of pepper became to high. Grains of Paradise can certainly be used in any dish in which black pepper is called for. Medicinally, Grains of Paradise are known to have aphrodisiac properties.
Chili peppers come to us from the capsicum family. They can be as small as a pea or as large as an eggplant, in hues of cream, yellow, orange and green. Their pungency ranges from sweet to flaming hot. All peppers contain capsaicin. Their heat is determined by the amount of capsaicin they contain and is measured in HU = Heat Units on a scale from 0 HU – 200,000+ HU. Ghost pepper is the hottest chili pepper; it is extremely hot and usually comes with a warning!
When fresh jalapenos are smoke-dried, the resulting withered peppers, with a hot smoky flavor are called chipotle.
Paprika, also from the capsicum family, is the mildest of peppers. Today, the best paprika comes from Hungary. Paprika adds a beautiful color to dishes with a mild flavor and a whole lot of vitamin C.
Körözött is a delicious Hungarian dish, a dip for vegetables, fruits, and chips, or as a spread on bread and crackers. Combine all ingredients with a fork or food processor:
Five Spice blend is used throughout China and Vietnam to flavor many dishes. Combine the following ingredients in a spice grinder and grind to a powder:
Seven Spice Seasoning (Shichimi Togarashi)
Use this spice blend in soups, pasta, vegetables and grilled meats. Combine all ingredients in a spice grinder or food processor and grind coarsely:
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp szechuan pepper
- 1 tbsp minced tangerine zest
- One 2-inch square Japanese seaweed (Nori) finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cayenne
- 1 tsp poppy seeds
- 1 tsp black sesame seeds
Salsa – Quick, Delicious, Easy
- 2 Anaheim chilies
- 2 red peppers
- 2 yellow peppers
- 1 onion with skin on
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ fresh limes juice
- More garlic
Grill or roast chilies, peppers, onion and garlic until blackened on a cast iron skillet. Remove from grill, stove-top or oven, let cool, and peel away skins. In a blender, combine all ingredients and puree until smooth. Stir in lime juice; add a little more garlic, minced, to your taste. Pour over grilled vegetables, or use as a dip with fresh vegetables or corn chips.Harissa
This spice blend is popular all over Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. Prepare Harissa whenever an intensely fiery hot sauce is in demand.
Soak chilies and mint in 1/3 cup of hot water for 30 minutes, then transfer to a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and blend to a smooth paste.
Written by Leilah