First think I thought of when I awoke this morning was "what the hell is long pepper?" Here is why:
Last night's Top Chef elimination challenge was exciting for the first time this season with an expectation to produce a great dish best served cold using uncommon ingredients. It even had a twist. During prep, the chefs were told to move to the station to their left and assume it's protein already being marinated, chopped and seared for the previous contestant. Finally, an interesting episode for this boring season. I was familiar with all but the duck testicles but frankly, I don't want to be familiar with them either. I loved watching the chef's faces as Padma ate them, however.
The losing dish was Tamesha's scallops which James Beard Award winner Michelle Bernstein described as "a tongue on top of your tongue." Not sure what that means, but wouldn't want to experience it. Apparently the scallops were over seasoned with long pepper. Each taster mentioned long pepper casually but unlike the duck testicles, no one said "long peppers are..." I googled and learned. While I googled, Foodie Buddha was crafting a delightful post with helpful descriptions of ingredients and preparations that many non-chefs may not know. Kismet I tell you.
Big Tree Farms who learned about these long forgotten peppers from locals describes them like this "The flavor of Balinese Long Pepper is deep and complex; simultaneously releasing an earthy pungency, a sweet hint of cardamom and nutmeg and the spicy heat of chili. The long peppers look like tiny cattails and once ground, roasted or simply snapped in two, they release an incredible floral bouquet." They do not respond to traditional farming techniques but instead choose to sprout where they will under the canopy of trees and along trails. Plucked from culinary obscurity, you can now buy them in these lovely boxes.