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Test Kitchen tips: Balinese long pepper

June 8, 2012 |  8:00 am

Longpeppermelmelcon

Prized for its rich, earthy flavor (there are notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom, along with a little heat) and floral bouquet, the long pepper was all but forgotten by the West for centuries. But it's making a comeback -- now available beyond Indian and Asian markets. These Balinese long peppers come in an attractive cardboard box from Big Tree Farms, a company working with local organic farmers to encourage sustainability.

Crush the peppers (they're a little over an inch long) under a towel with a mallet, then grind them using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. The peppers can be used whole for stocks, brines and pickling solutions.

Balinese long peppers can be found at select cooking and gourmet stores, as well as Indian and Asian markets. They are also available online.

Continue reading below for a recipe for grilled pineapple with rum and long pepper glaze.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

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Photo credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Grilled pineapple with rum and long pepper glaze

Total time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4 to 8

Note: Dried long peppers are available at Surfas in Culver City, Nicole's in Pasadena and Cube in Los Angeles, as well as select Indian and Asian markets. Also online at salttraders.com and le-sanctuaire.com. If any glaze is unused, it will keep for a week, refrigerated, and makes a great topping for ice cream; rewarm before using.

1 large ripe pineapple

1 or 2 dried long peppers (to yield 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground pepper)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup dark rum

1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)

4 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

1. Peel and core the pineapple, then cut it into 16 lengthwise spears. Using a spice or clean coffee grinder, grind the long pepper to a medium fine powder. In a small, dry skillet, stir the ground pepper and cinnamon and toast over low heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

2. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the rum, brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture has come to a boil. Remove the glaze from the heat and stir in the toasted spices.

3. Brush the pineapple spears lightly with the glaze, allowing any excess to drip off. Using long-handled metal tongs, place the pineapple spears on a clean, oiled grill over medium heat. Cook for 1 to 3 minutes per side, carefully basting the spears with additional glaze as they cook. (The rum in the glaze can create flare-ups if it drips into hot coals, so use a long-handled brush to apply the glaze and stand back.) The pineapple is done when it is slightly softened and golden brown, with grill marks. Drizzle with more glaze before serving, if desired.

Each serving: 87 calories; 1 gram protein; 17 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 1 gram fat; 0 saturated fat; 2 mg. cholesterol; 13 mg. sodium.

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