The Perfect Peppercorn Blend
Over the years, I have written about salt, pepper, spices, herbs, and everything in between in what seems like a thousand pieces. Yet, no matter the number of times I write about these necessities, I always stumble across, and learn about, a new combination, technique or method of usage for these aforementioned provisions.
We are all familiar with Chinese Five Spice and Japanese Seven Spice blends, and I use these in my repertoire on a somewhat regular basis, although at home I need to use them sparingly since my young children don’t necessarily jump up and down in their seats for anise star and Szechuan peppercorns.
In light of my experiences with different spices, and my affinity for pepper, especially freshly cracked pepper at the table at our evening meal, I decided to perfect a pepper blend that would serve as an all-purpose mill-filler that would sit next to the stove and travel with me as I cook, compete and teach.
When I cater, I always have the blend handy for our standard preparations, from salads to steaks, and even on a few desserts, such as balsamic-macerated strawberries with freshly cracked pepper. And the secret? Nothing more than Szechuan peppercorns mixed in with some standard peppercorns as listed in the recipe below.
As cooking is truly a matter of personal taste, make this and tweak it out to suit your needs. Follow the steps and you may just find the perfect pepper blend for your everyday needs.
1 part White Peppercorns
1 part Pink Peppercorns
3 parts Black Peppercorns, preferably Tellicherry
2 parts Szechuan Peppercorns
Combine the whole peppercorns in a saute pan and toast on medium heat to bring out those volatile oils. Do not let them smoke, as any scorched flavor can vastly alter the final outcome of any dish.
After they have had a chance to cool a bit, carefully place them in a pepper mill and grind away. Clean, simple and peppery goodness. You can’t ask for more.
Photo credit: Bob Richmond