A reader who calls himself/herself “Lomi” e-mailed me asking what I mean by “freshly ground pepper”. To tell you the truth, the question made me feel a little guilty. Am I presuming too much with some of the terms I use in my recipes? That wouldn’t do, right? After all, the object of the blog is not only to share recipes but, more importantly, to encourage everyone to cook and discover the joys of home cooking which today’s lifestyle has relegated to the background what with the penchant for deliveries and take-out food.
So let me be a little more helpful by posting more practical kitchen tips, including some of the cooking tools and gadgets that I truly find useful. However, being more helpful does not mean I will give in to requests to “please e-mail me the recipe” of such and such dish. No e-mail-a-recipe service.
So, when I say freshly ground pepper, I mean peppercorns that have been ground. In my case, I use a pepper mill. Others prefer to grind their pepper using a mortar and pestle. What difference does it make really? Why not just buy powdered pepper and dispense it with a pepper shaker?
You know what? I used to think that the obsession over freshly ground pepper was just one of the caprices of those high-brow cooks. But when I started using a pepper mill to grind whole peppercorns, I never went back to using powdered pepper. The aroma, the flavor and the potency just aren’t the same.
Pepper mills come in a variety of forms and shapes. The materials vary too. You’ll find glass and ceramic pepper mills. Some are made to yield a coarse grind; others, a fine grind. Personally, I prefer a wooden pepper mill. In a country with such humid weather for most of the year, wood is best for absorbing moisture which may give way to the growth of molds. Oh, I know, we’re talking dried peppercorns here and how can anything dried every develop molds? Shucks, you don’t know how bad the humidity gets especially during the rainy season. Wooden pepper mills work best for me.
Pepper mills are usually sold together with a salt mill. I don’t normally grind my salt. Salt mills are useful for people who cook salt-free food and just place a salt mill on the table for those who want to add salt to theirs. Others use a salt mill to grind sea salt. I use both my salt and pepper mills for grinding pepper.