Black Pepper: The Versatile King of Spice

The classic, tongue-tingling bite of this beloved spice has been enjoyed for decades, and has been incorporated into soups, sauces, meat dishes — the list goes on. What makes the flavour of black pepper so unique is how well it works with other ingredients, enhancing but rarely overpowering flavours.

Club House Black Pepper is most often sourced from India. The type of peppercorn that’s usually featured is considered the finest in the world — the Tellicherry peppercorn. The berries are kept on the vine longer than most peppercorns, making them larger, with a deep, rich flavour. They are then harvested green and left in the sun for 16 to 20 hours, slowly turning black and shrivelling up until they develop the concentrated flavour we all know and love. McCormick has a variety of black pepper products, including:

If anyone understands the use of spice, it’s McCormick Canada’s Executive Corporate Chef Juriaan Snellen. He let us in on a few black pepper secrets, and the kind of changes he’s seeing with this spice across the globe.

What are some creative ways to use pepper in summer menu items?

Pepper is starting to be used in more unconventional and unique ways. In the past, pepper was mostly used in savoury dishes, but now we’re starting to see pepper in sweet applications, ranging from desserts to pastries to baked goods. The pepper gives a bit of a lingering heat in the back. I’m starting to see peppercorns pop up in artisanal handmade cocktails that feature white peppercorns, green peppercorns or even pink peppercorns to give the cocktail an extra layer of flavour.

What’s your favourite type of pepper and what’s your preferred method to use it?

For me it’s a toss-up between the green peppercorn and the black peppercorn, so depending on the application I’d choose one of the two. The green peppercorn, which is essentially an unripe version of a black peppercorn, still has a lot of earthy, fresh notes (some people refer to it like grass or jalapeno) and they pair really well with creamy sauces and grilled meats. Black pepper is known as the “King of Spice” and is a really concentrated, lingering heat flavour. I personally love whole peppercorns and put them in my peppercorn grinder. Every time you use a grinder, you get that freshly ground cracked pepper that’s full of essential oils and flavours, to really gets the most out of your pepper.

Are there any ingredients that bring the black pepper flavour to the forefront?

Salt helps and is the oldest and most classic flavour combination. Salt is a flavour enhancer that helps the pepper flavour come out. Also, anything sweet that gives it a contrast like honey infused with black peppers is a beautiful combination. You can also pair black pepper with something citrusy to bring out the heat. What we’re starting to see more and more are sweet, ripe strawberries paired up with fresh black peppercorn and that’s definitely a unique combination, but it works.