04 May2009

Green Peppercorns…

by Marketman


Green peppercorns are not a common ingredient in most marketplaces I have visited. Even the rare visits to markets in Indonesia when we lived there did not yield a whiff of green peppercorns, which are essentially unripe piper nigrum fruit that have a wonderful and unique aroma and taste. They are incredibly distinct and memorable, reminiscent of pepper, but with a smoother less lingering after taste. I find them most memorable in steak sauces, often made with some alcohol like brandy and a touch of cream. A green peppercorn sauce is something you must try if you are a flavor junkie. So you can imagine why my heart skipped a little beat when I came across…


…this enormous container of incredibly fresh looking green peppercorns at a Saigon market on a recent trip. I was so fascinated with the discovery that I ended up with 6 photos of the peppercorns and the vendor but only one photo was barely in focus and usable! Unable to resist the unusual find, I bought half a kilo’s worth to take back to Manila in my luggage. It turns out that some Vietnamese and Indochinese dishes make use of the green peppercorns added directly to the stews or broths, but I couldn’t really find a recipe that seemed like a must do. Instead, I had to figure out a way how to preserve the green peppercorns to lengthen their useful lives. In the past, I have always bought these bottled in brine or vinegar, so I decided to try and make my own brined green peppercorns…


I sterilized a jam bottle. Then boiled up some water, added lots of salt, added the washed and sorted green peppercorns and turned off the heat. I added them to the sterilized bottles, then submerged that in boiling water for say 8-10 minutes. After about a week “curing” I tried the homemade brined peppercorns in a steak sauce and they were fantastic. Not as fragrant as I thought they might be, the next time I use them I will add double the amount of brined peppercorns to get a real hit of that unique green peppercorn flavor and aroma… yum.




  1. Apicio says:

    There is a picture of what looks like a drool perfect dish of stir-fried crab with green piper nigrum in this link. Just click on the lone frame in the fourth row from the top. As a matter of fact the pic was shot in Kampot, Cambochia


    May 4, 2009 | 6:48 am


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  3. Marketman says:

    Apicio, OMG, that DOES look good. Crabs, green onion, green peppers, something reddish with the oil… darn, all out of FRESH green peppers. And many of his other photos are of dishes from the restaurant at the hotel we stayed at in Siem Reap… Thanks for that link.

    May 4, 2009 | 6:52 am

  4. Gay says:

    This made me miss home in Laguna. We have a pepper plant at home that’s very prolific. From one plant at home, we harvest 2-3 kilos several times a year. More than enough pepper for personal use. Often I would use the freshly harvested peppercorns for nilagang baka or law-uy. The rest I dip in boiling water for a minute then sun dry. There’s our black pepper!

    May 4, 2009 | 7:41 am

  5. wltrrbls says:

    MarketMan, I encountered these green peppercorns when I was living in Thailand several years ago. They put them in rich curries and stews and my favourite is a Halal recipe with mutton by a couple of friends from southern Thailand. They said the green peppercorns remove the fishy taste of food, very similar to our use of ginger or malunggay leaves.

    May 4, 2009 | 5:29 pm

  6. rose says:

    This is the one i love so much!!!!!!!!!!yummy! and they pop when you bite into it…..

    May 4, 2009 | 9:53 pm

  7. tagabacolod says:

    hello marketman!

    i was just wondering, so we don’t need to go through quarantine to be able to bring in/take out fresh produce like those from one country to another?

    i have always wanted to bring some ingredients back home but i’m a bit afraid customs would see them. :-)

    May 5, 2009 | 12:37 pm

  8. Marketman says:

    tagabacolod, Ihave brought fruit, vegetable, dairy, meat etc. into the Philippines with no problem. But I would NEVER try to bring those same items into the U.S., Canada or Australia even. In theory, fresh fruits and vegetables and meat are a no-no, but at Manila customs, I have often declared these items and have had no issues whatsoever.

    May 5, 2009 | 3:37 pm

  9. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Those green peppercorn really look good and different. Have no come across them. Inspires me to really look at everything when visiting markets abroad.
    Out of topic,Bettyq,am so happy with the palabok recipe you gave us. Successful on one try. Thanks so much!!

    May 5, 2009 | 5:34 pm

  10. lee says:

    looks like miniature batwan

    May 5, 2009 | 9:37 pm

  11. betty q. says:

    MM…I had a classmate in one of my courses here who is from Thailand. During breaks, we discuss what else but about FOOD! She mentioned this dipping sauce they have using green peppercorns. Though she didn’t give me exact measurements…a little bit of this and that…I think I got what she meant! I added a tomato to what she said and it turned out even better. …in an almires: put abpout 2 tbsp. processed green peppercorn, 2 really large cloves, peeled garlic, a little less than 1 tbsp. demerara sugar, about 1 cuchara of dried shrimp, and 1 key lime (I cut into quarters), and 1 cherry tomato. I pounded everything togetheruntil well combined.

    I didn’t have green mangoes which she said above would make an excellent dip. So I used Granny Smith apple slices. It is not our bagoonng but I must admit it is soooo good!

    I am glad you like the Pancit, Marisse! Make a whole caldero of the caldo and freeze, so next time you have a hankering for Pancit Malabon, you just have to soak the noodles (if using dried) and make yout toppings. Sorry, MM for the out of topic reply for Marisse!

    MM…A long time ago, I met a guy who used to work at the airport as a customs officer. I think he is retired now. I remember him telling me that as long as fruits such as mangoes are BLEMISH-FREE and brought in REASONABLE QUANTITIES (keyword is REASONABLE and not by the “kaing”), it is allowed provided they declare it. That is why pineapples are also allowed in. However, fruits such as cherries, apples, peaches, nectarines or any fruits that are grown in Canada cannot be brought in from let’s say US or Mexico or any other country to PROTECT OUR AGRICULTURE from pests. Mangoes or pineapples are not grown in Canada! My sister brings in BOTTLED TUYO and mangoes which she hand carries for her apo (mango is his most favorite fruit of all!) As long as the fish is processed as in bottled, it is allowed. Again, reasonable quantities.

    May 6, 2009 | 6:17 am

  12. Maria Clara says:

    BettyQ: Your green peppercorn salsa sounds also good with fried fish, grilled pork or chicken and a bowlful of piping hot steamed rice.

    May 6, 2009 | 11:07 am

  13. Cathy Tagle-Garcia says:

    Hi . I really like reading your interesting finds and creations. I love red and green peppercorns. I am a freelance food writer and food stylist although what puts food on the table is woring for the family business. I write for Spiff MAgazine (ATlas Publishing) and contribute to Inquirer Golf, Yummy and Flavors and other Summit Media magazines… I hope I can interview you one day. It will really be an intersting and fun interview I’m sure.

    I hope you will write me if you are up to it. I am a fan and I am an avid reader of your blogs. More power and here’s to more educational and cultured, not to mention tasty blogs from the Market Man!

    May 8, 2009 | 9:56 pm

  14. Ernesto Pantua Jr. says:

    We grow organic pepper corns in our farm. If you are interested in fresh green pepper corn just txt me your DHL account and will send them to you (of course after you have paid them).

    May 11, 2009 | 8:08 pm


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