This second cousin of Sichuan pepper is fruity and fresh with clementine and citronella notes. Pairs well with fish and seafood.
Mat Khen pepper, also known as Forest Pepper, is a wild berry that grows in the northern part of Vietnam, close to the Chinese and Laotian borders. It is closely related to Sichuan and Japanese Sancho peppers. There are many varieties grown in neighbouring countries, where it is used to enhance a wide variety of local dishes (North of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand).
Its exuberant flavour is reminiscent of citrus fruits such as clementine and mandarins, with a fragrance of citronella. It is tangy and has anesthetic properties but, surprisingly is quite mild – which is characteristic of members of this family of peppers.
Mat Khen combines well with citronella and ginger, especially when used with poultry, fish or seafood dishes. There is a distinct hint of freshness when used to make fish tartare, sautéed scallops or shrimp. Can also be used in duck or pork dishes alongside a pinch of fresh ginger or star anise.
Mat Khen has a great affinity with chocolate, try in a chocolate tart or dark chocolate mousse.