It seems that each year, often when the snow melts or spring truly announces its arrival, food writers, self-anointed “foodies” and professional chefs alike announce the new spice or pepper for the year. This is especially true of peppers and 2018, might just be the year of the Nepalese timut pepper.
In this writer’s lifetime, ketchup and mustard have seen their U.S. sales lead usurped by “salsa” and been forced to share table time with Sriracha, it seems each year diners and home cooks alike are constantly searching for something new, different, and more recently, spicy.
You’re likely familiar with Szechuan peppercorn and it’s mouth-numbing uniqueness. Somewhere on that berry’s family tree falls the mountain-raised timut pepper from “neighboring” Nepal. The darker, smaller, and considerably less-known timut pepper does have a very pronounced difference however…this pepper, which also numbs the mouth and brings the heat, has a distinct smell (not hint) and taste of grapefruit.
While the discerning palate, might also get notes of passion fruit, like a good proper sauvignon blanc, the grapefruit is omniscient. This unique attribute in a pepper consequently makes it a lovely accompaniment to fish, seafood, and especially seared scallops. That’s not to say the timut pepper has its range limited to just these proteins and can comfortably be used in your favorite Szechuan recipe or even chocolate desserts. Additionally, if you’re a summer canner, jelly or jam enthusiast, this harvest season it may be time to look to Nepal. It’s unlikely, no matter where you live outside of Nepal that you’re going to stumble across this pepper any time soon but don’t worry, Amazon.com and other online spice providers like Spice Ace have you covered.
Lastly, if indeed the timut pepper enjoys a banner 2018, expect to see it make its way to your local mixologist. While it wouldn’t be a surprise to find specialty drinks of eight ingredients using the timut, the simple gin and tonic is screaming for its addition.