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Last week, I may have intimated (and knowingly) that pink peppercorns are a meek relative of the black peppercorn. But, the truth is, pink peppercorns are not peppercorns at all. They are in fact the dried berries of the Baies rose plant, which my sources tell me are grown in Madagascar and imported through France. You’ll often find them in a mixed blend of peppercorns, including black, white, and green. But, beware: they are toxic in large quantities. I love this secret ingredient! So full of danger and mystery. We are definitely living on the edge after March’s month of chamomile.
As I mentioned last week, their texture is that of a hollow Easter Egg: a quick crack and they’re in smithereens. Their flavor is more aromatically peppery than truly spicy. In both flavor and texture, they are softer than the black peppercorn.
The first time I had pink peppercorns, they were strewn over the top of a marinated raw salmon. So, I incorporated them into a tuna tartare, bright with the juice and zest of sweet orange, punctuated with bits of gentle shallot, and punchy with sherry vinegar. The effect is one of unexpected savory sweetness, studded with the popping spice of the pink peppercorns, which give a beautiful monochrome effect to this dish. I serve them with blue corn chips, on which to scoop up the fish.
- 3/4 pound tuna steak, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon finely diced shallot
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- zest 1 orange
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon light olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pink peppercorns, slightly chopped
- fleur de sel
- lime wedges
Toss the tuna with the shallot, orange juice, zest, sherry vinegar, olive oil, and pink peppercorns, and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, with a garnish of fleur de sel, and lime wedges. Serve blue corn chips or baguette croutes for eating the tartare.
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