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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Simple Goodness: Cambodian black pepper sauce for dipping

There's nothing wrong with a good BBQ sauce. Or with ranch. Or with honey mustard. But this...this one is the bomb!
I first had a chance to try this genius and simple sauce while in Cambodia in 2006. I was invited for dinner to a dear friend's house, and was genuinely humbled by the hospitality of the Khmers. I will dedicate some time to this topic later, as it is impossible to describe the goodness of these people, and the wonder of their cuisine in one tiny post.
Everything we were offered was incredibly delicious. But what stood out to me the most, was the most simple thing: black pepper dipping sauce. It went very well with the chicken:

Although we don't serve chicken this way in our house, the sauce goes perfectly well with our version. I hope you give it a try too, and be ready for an explosion of flavor! I promise, you will NOT be disappointed!
The sauce is very easy to make, and the main flavor will largely depend on the quality of the black pepper you use. In Cambodia, they use their own native Kampot peppercorns, which are very aromatic and offer delicate, yet distinct flavor. I highly recommend using freshly ground peppercorns, though I've used an already ground pepper from the store, and it was OK too.   It goes like this:
  • 4 tsp. of ground peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 1/2 lime, but this can really be adjusted to taste, as some people prefer less acid on their palate)
Once you mix the ingredients, you should have a sauce with somewhat pasty consistency. Of course, as you adjust your lime juice, you may end up with a sauce that's a little more runny. 
Your wonderful sauce is complete. Go enjoy it with fish, or spruce up your leftover roasted chicken from yesterday's dinner. :) And don't be afraid to experiment, because you never know what you might discover next!

Total cost: < $1 per batch

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