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White Pepper vs Black Pepper, in a world of increasing choices, the different type of pepper available can be a little confusing. However, In traditional Chinese cooking, White Pepper is the standard pepper that is used. From stir-fry, fried rice and even chicken wings, white pepper is the preferred choice of pepper. This is a stark contrast from the western favorite, Black Pepper. The price commanded by white pepper is definitely more than the black tellicherry peppers. But, is the extra cost really worth it, what about the taste? This article will go through the different aspect of these different pepper and find out whether the white pepper deserve a spot in your kitchen pantry.
Both the white and Black pepper comes from the same flowering plant known as Piperaceae. The major difference between the two pepper is how they are processed.
Black Pepper Processing
Black pepper are harvested in the early stages while it is still green. Then it is boiled to clean off any impurities. After about an hour the pepper will start to turn black. They are then left to rest in the Sun to dry off.
White Pepper Processing
In order to get white pepper, red pepper are harvested and then it is soaked in water for about a week. The outer layer will eventually decompose and mechanical agitation will remove the outer husk. Other methods are also employed to expedite the removal of the outer husk(Mechanical, chemical and Biological).
White Pepper vs Black Pepper Taste
Black pepper have a chemical compound called piperine, it gives the pepper that unique heat and flavor that we all come to like. It is a volatile oil which means that overtime it will evaporate. Which is why its always recommended to buy whole instead of grounded pepper. Although similar, it is not the same Capasaicin which is found in Chili Pepper. For more information on Piperine, check the Journal Article on the subject, it is really informative.
White Pepper or Black Pepper Stronger?
Since the processing removes most of the chemical compound piperine, most of the heat is gone. In exchange, a more complex floral and earthy flavor is developed. So why do Chinese Chef love using white pepper so much? Mostly for appearances, presentation plays a big part in Chinese cooking. White grounded pepper will blend in fried rice and soup a lot better than black will. No one wants to see black flecks in their rice porridge. Not only that, sometimes the dish calls for a more mild flavor than black pepper.
Where to Buy White Pepper?
You can find whole white pepper at any Chinese Market. If you do not have a Chinese Supermaket near you, Amazon is a good alternative. Although it will cost a little more. Just remember to purchase Whole White Peppercorn. Most of the piperine is already gone, why loose all of it in grounded white pepper.
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