Java long pepper is used in spice mixes around the world. Its intense heat and exotic scent add complexity to Indian garam masalas, and spice mixes for Indonesian beef rendang. However the pepper’s strange long shape and hardness can make it a challenge to cook with – long pepper is certainly not something you’d want to come across whole in a dish.
We sometimes grind long pepper to use interchangeably with black pepper in recipes - the famous combination of black pepper together with strawberries can be even more delightful with ground long pepper. Though be warned - long pepper's heat and bite are far more intense, so use sparingly.
It is possible to grind long pepper in a spice grinder, but we prefer to use a heavy pestle and mortar: it takes less time, and you can enjoy seeing the complex structure of the long pepper as it starts to break apart.
How to Grind Long Pepper In Seconds: Step-by-Step
1. Select just a couple of peppercorns, and place in the base of pestle and mortar.
Whole Long Pepper Grains In a Pestle & Mortar
2. Bash the pepper in an up-and-down motion for 10 seconds. This should be enough for the pepper to split, and for the tiny ‘berries’ to start to show.
After bashing the peppercorn for 10 seconds you can see it break apart, and the delicate structure of the stem with many tiny berries inside
3. Now rest the pestle inside the mortar, and move your wrist in a circular motion, as if you’re stirring a large pot. After another 10 seconds, the pepper should be ground into a fine powder.
Circular movements grind the tiny long pepper berries into a fine powder
Note: small pieces of the long pepper's central column sometimes remain in the ground spice - sieve these out if preferred. They are soft and don't have so much flavour, so we just leave them in.