Kampot Pepper Cambodia

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One of the culinary highlights on my recent cycling trip of Cambodia was a visit to a pepper farm in Kampot.  I must admit that before I visited Kampot I had never bothered to think about variances in the black peppercorns I buy and simply bought a box as required to top up my pepper grinder.

Kampot pepper is known as being one of the finest peppers in the world.  It has a spicy fragrant aroma and the spicy yet almost sweet flavour lingers on the palate.
Kampot pepper has a Protected Geographical Indication meaning that it must be grown in Kampot and by traditional methods.  Artificial fertilisers or pesticides are not allowed and the farm we visited uses cow dung and bat droppings as fertiliser.  The bat droppings are collected from caves in the hills and actually are not dissimilar in look to black peppercorns!

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All peppercorns regardless of the final colour, start off on the same plant which grows as a vine.
They are all originally green, they grow in “grape” clusters and can be incorporated into dishes when immature and still in the in their cluster.  Fresh green peppercorns need to be consumed within 3 days of picking.
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Once the peppercorns are fully mature they become red in colour. The berries ripen at varying times so when a cluster is picked there will be some red peppercorns on it but the others will still be a greenish yellow colour.
The mature green peppercorns are sun dried for 3-4 days and turn from green to black.
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The red peppercorns must be picked at an exact time before they spoil and as there are less on each cluster, they are much rarer than black and while sun dried in the same ways as the black peppercorns they have a sweeter and less spicy flavour.

White peppercorns are the product of ripe peppercorns that have been soaked in hot water until the skin falls away.  These are then sun dried.  The white peppercorn changes flavour with the loss of its skin but it is valued for its ability to blend into pale dishes without spoiling the colour.
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I brought some Kampot pepper home with me (with NZ Customs approval of course).
Even in Cambodia the product is not cheap and a 160g bag retails at around $10 US.
If you would like to be the recipient of a bag of Kampot Pepper then please do comment below!
A winner will be drawn November 30th.

Has anyone else already tried it?

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38 thoughts on “Kampot Pepper Cambodia

  1. Wow you are a wealth of information..how interesting. I didn’t know that was how peppers were grown..as you say you just buy them and put them in pepper grinder.. I will look at them differently now. Did u try any of the dishes with fresh peppers in them if so what were they like??

    • Lyn the dish pictured is actually my lunch and it was lovely, The peppercorns are mildly peppery and quite juicy. You can eat the stem as well. They worked well with the onion and prawns.
      The night before that I had barbecued prawns with black pepper sauce. The peppercorns are pounded and then mixed with water and lime juice, that was one of my favourite meals!

  2. I had never heard of Kampot Pepper, and it sounds amazing. I did know the reason for colour variances in Peppercorns, but never thought beyond that.
    One would have to hope that the bat droppings never get mixed up with the black peppercorns, taking into account they are the same size!!
    Isn’t it great however to see traditional fertilizers being used and the nasties aren’t there.
    Wonderful article Helen, and thanks for the photos

    • Irene I was so impressed to see Cambodia working hard to maintain their integrity with their peppercorns
      Another highlight was seeing street kids taught to work in restaurants and also to make handcrafts to sell to tourists.
      There are some great things happening despite the poverty and reminders of their recent brutal history.

  3. i have now learnt so much about pepper after reading your blog – I used to wonder why white pepper is more expensive than black and this explains it! The part anout the bat droppings made me smile – hope there aren’t any included!! Foodlovers is one of my favourite Facebook blogs, often try your recipes – and was lucky to buy one of your books – will there be a sequel? Thanks for all your lovely common sense recipes.

  4. I would LOVE to try Kampot pepper Helen. Cambodia has been top of my travel wish list for so long and I still haven’t made it there. Looking forward to more reports from you soon.

  5. No, haven’t tried it but it sounds interesting. I have tried Schezuan pepper – always enjoy trying new products.

  6. Not sure if I have tried it or not? I do recall a fancy dinner in Phnom Penh one night and remember something about the local pepper used in one of the dishes – I need to win some to find out!

  7. I love all colours of the peppercorn. There’s nothing better than green peppercorns in a sauce on juicy thick T-Bones. Those flavours together are a match made in heaven.

    I mostly use ground white pepper when it is a fairly light in colour and flavour dish. Cracked black peppercorns for a more robust meal. Generally though I do like the mix of all peppercorns together (Black ren, green and white).. That is the most common pepper combination I use.

    I would be so interested in trying this Kampot pepper mix. I especially like how it is grown. In a good old fashioned natural way! There should be more of it!

  8. Really interesting, thank you Helen. I have white peppercorns in a different grinder from black pepper corns and knowing that they have lost a layer it puzzles me that they are bigger, and when crushed almost MORE powerfully aromatic than black. Any thoughts?

  9. your trip sounds amazing, I’m quite envious. I’d love to try some genuine Kampot pepper – please enter me in the draw

  10. Very interesting article. I think the pepper plantation was visited during an episode of the “Spice Trip” on the Food channel – also a very interesting programme. I would love to try some of these peppers.

  11. I would love to try these peppercorns, they would be a nice additon to recipes. Enjoyed all the info about them, sounds like an interesting trip

  12. Sound like intriguing peppers – would love to try them on a steak or in a sauce as you mentioned. Hope you had a great trip

  13. I would love to try this as it would add a unique flavour to any dish, but especially my Thai Chicken green curry
    Favourite :-)

  14. I remember this pepper was available sometimes when we were living in Bangkok – a lovely spice – would love to taste it again.

  15. I’m a fresh ground pepper blend fiend. I have never heard of this variety and would love to try some. I pepper everything i eat…..

  16. Would love to try a little bit of something exotic and hard to find :) would also be nice to educate the children and will letting them read the blog later so they can also see how pepper is grown as i also had no idea it grew on a vine..

  17. As a regular pepper user, I found your article informative & interesting -so much of what use or call ‘essentials’ in day to day cooking we remain woefully ignorant of.
    I would love to try the “real thing”
    Regards

    Raymond

  18. How wonderful combining your love of food with cycling – two of my special interests. I would love to hear how you found cycling in Cambodia? Your illustrated pepper article was fascinating. Would love to try the pepper.

  19. I have a husband who adores pepper, this would be so good for him to try, he enjoys it more since he has aged, a measl is not good without his pepper pot

  20. Hi Helen, what a wonderful offer! as i will never venture to Cambodia, you have enlightened me on some tempting dishes, and once again. Thanks for your inspiring recipes and adventures.
    As we age, its less salt, however NEVER less pepper, it is one of my many favourite spices. will look forward to checking out any reference to Kampot Pepper .
    Keep up your wonderful temptations, it is great to get re-inspired.
    Thank You
    Jo :)

  21. I’ve used the Chinese Sichuan peppercorns previously which are sooo different to the traditional black peppercorns. Would love to experiment with the Kampot pepper. Have enjoyed Thai and Vietnamese cuisine for many years so would be great to add Cambodian cuisine to this.

  22. I would love to try some. Are you thinking of importing so we can buy from you? May I use some of your words regarding Kampot Pepper in my Herb newsletter? [Auckland Herb Society]

  23. My hubbie is a black pepper fiend, he can’t seem to get enough of the stuff. It would be awesome to introduce him to Kampot pepper

  24. I am living in Sihanoukville and just bought black and fresh green at the main market..
    The best pepper for sure.
    Great article.
    I will go to Kampot soon..