Cubeb pepper has sweet-nutmeg, biscuity aromas – but big eucalyptus flavours, with a cold spiciness and a long finish, perfect for cutting through rich and fatty flavours, like a lamb tagine, pork belly or game.
Cubeb pepper – nicknamed ‘tailed pepper’ thanks the little stalks attached – has been traded by Arab merchants as far back as the 7th century. But most cubeb pepper is now grown on tropical vines in Indonesia, near Java and Sumatra.
Cubeb pepper is often used as a key seasoning in ras el hanout, where it adds big, eucalyptus-aniseed, spiced flavours to Middle Eastern dishes. It’s one of the botanicals used in Bombay Sapphire gin. But in the home kitchen, cubeb pepper is used in anything from a lamb tagine to an Indonesian rendang curries, as well as being a great seasoning for game and a for flavouring homemade sausages. Although the sweet-smelling spice has distinctively bitter flavours, it looses its edge when cooked, and can even be used in Middle Eastern pastries, alongside honey and dates.
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