In Chinese kitchens, white pepper is regarded as a bigger star than black pepper. It’s the invisible finish that makes its place in most all dishes. Both white pepper (Baihujiao) and black pepper (Heihujiao) originate from the same plant. The distinction between the two is the age of the berry. Black pepper is prepared from unripe berries, while white pepper is prepared with mature, ripe berries.
White Pepper Flavor
White pepper is a dried spice with a mildly pungent flavor. It is less peppery when compared to black pepper, but still adds a welcome dimension to the flavor profile. It provides fragrance but not heat, making it well-accepted by people that don’t like getting all hot and red with conventional chili peppers. White pepper has a lasting taste that can linger on the palate. In that light, a pinch is plenty – just a little bit can go a long way.
Medicinal Benefit of White Pepper
White pepper is of great value in Chinese medicine mainly for two reasons: Reducing pain and phlegm in the throat and resolving constitutional dampness. White pepper also helps to improve any breathing problems as it can significantly reduce respiratory inflammation, especially throughout the sinus cavity. The warming qi properties of white pepper brings heat to the body, thus relieving everyday conditions like cold extremities, chills, or common cold. Individuals prone to cold in their bodies can ingest white pepper daily to warm the body, move the blood, and promote perspiration.
Using White Pepper in the Kitchen
Chinese kitchens have a big stock of white pepper. Finely crushed pepper adds instant flavor to any dish. Cold, or hot, vegetarian or not, no savory meal is complete without this culinary staple.
Before serving a bowl of hot soup, white pepper is often added along with scallions, cilantro, and a splash of toasted sesame oil to increase the fragrance and flavor and add a fresh zest to each bowl. One trick often used in Chinese kitchens is to add white pepper first in the bowl so that it gets mixed well with the contents of the soup.
As white pepper has heat, it is important to take it in limited quantities. People prone to heat conditions or that have excessive perspiration are advised to avoid this pepper.