Peppercorns: prik thai ohn

Young, green and spicy, these berries come from a tropical vine in India. In Thai cooking, whole segments of young peppercorn stems are thrown into stir-fried dishes, curries, soups and sauces to add an intensely spicy, aromatic flavor.

If not used when green, the berries begin to turn red, and are typically dried in the sun until they shrivel and blacken. These are the classic black peppercorns you see in most food stores and restaurants. Avoid white peppercorns, which have been bleached to even the color. Unfortunately, this process also leaches out the important minerals and flavors. For a particularly potent flavor, grind your own peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, or pepper mill. In the field of herbal medicine, peppercorns are known for their digestive and antioxidant properties.

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