2021-11-05 . Products

4 spices for the smoky taste addict

4 spices for the smoky taste addict

It’s been a few millenia that cooking ingredients have been smoked. If, in that time, the smoking process was mainly used for conservation, particularly for fish and meat, it’s been since Antiquity that humans have been experimenting with smoking, not only to store goods, but also to modify their aroma and texture. Certain regions of Europe, such as Scandinavian and Eastern Europe, are strikingly addict to this smoky taste. And we find it everywhere, even in spices… 

How do we smoke spices? 

The most common smoking process is done at warm temperature, between 50°C and 85°C. It’s this type of smoking you may find when a specific food ingredient has strong smoking smell. Even though it’s antibacterial, it does dry out food, as well as modify its texture and colour. 

The second smoking process, and the one we have selected is cold-smoking. It cannot go over 29°C, and ideally is set between 12°C and 25°C. It doesn’t deterioriate neither the taste nor the texture of the product, and adds this subtle taste we love, that reinforces the spices’ aromas. 

At La Plantation, our smoking is set around 20°C, in a hermetic and dedicated room. Each smoking cycle lasts 4 hours, in order to permeate our spices without damaging them. It only contains one variety of spice per session, in order to preserve its aromatic palette, unique to each spice.

We use the bark and fibers of coconuts to light it up, and the bark of rice for the fuming and slow combustion. It’s true that in Kampot, wood is rather rare, and the dedicated varities we can find in Northern Europe, such as beech and oak woods, are not present in the nearby hills (wood we usually strive to preserve).

How did we discover this technique? 

The idea came from an encounter with a salmon-smoker. He kickstarted this idea to smoke our spices, in order to give them this unique taste that reinforces their aromatic palette. He even made in to Kampot (from France), to install our first smoking house and form our local teams.

What products are cold-smoked?

Smoky taste is rather splitting. It’s either you love or your hate it. What we know for sure is that the smoked version of our spices gives you the opportunity to discover a new taste, or maybe re-discover a different aromatic range on a spice you already love.

  • Our best-selling Black Kampot Pepper is recognised as one of the best peppers in the world. You will love its smoked version! The cold smoking process, for many hours, accentuates the woody taste of this pepper, and gives it warm, round, slightly liquorice notes, with a very nice length in the mouth.

  • Our White Kampot Pepper is one of the few peppers in the world to be produced from the full-grown red corns. Our Smoked White Kampot Pepper is a pepper of character, with well balanced woody flavors. Its smoky notes bring an exceptional flavour and leaves a lasting taste of grilled rice on the palate.

  • The Sweet Long Chili is a popular chili variety in Cambodia used to color red curry. With a bright red color, the Smoked Sweet Long Chili has a slight smoky taste with sublimates its sweet notes. It is slightly bitter and very aromatic.

  • If you prefer stronger chilies, our Red Bird Chili is a must. Its seeds have been harvested in the nearby forest because this small speciesiwas no longer cultivated in Cambodia. It’s an 8 on the Scoville scale. In its cold-smoked version, its subtle aroma, emanating from the smoking process, pairs perfectly with its strong chili taste.

What about Cardamom?

  • You might have noticed that both our Wild and Forest Cardamoms have this unique smoky aroma. It actually comes from a different ancestral drying technique that is here employed by our pickers. Inded, our Cambodian Cardamoms have been collected by hand at full maturity, during the rainy season, in the range of mountains called the Cardamoms. The smoking process here allows them to dry: they are disposed on a grill, on top of a low-heat fire. This traditional method intensifies their iconic aromas of mint, camphor and eucalyptus.

We hope that (if you’re not already), you’ll soon become addict to this subtle smoky taste, now that you know everything about the behind the scenes.

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