Let's talk about long pepper chicken wings!
កសិដ្ឋានគីរី: កសិដ្ឋានលក្ខណៈគ្រួសារ នៅខេត្តតាកែវ
នៅកសិដ្ឋានគីរីយើងបានបង្កើតគ្រឿងទេសនេះហើយព្យាយាមធ្វើឱ្យវាស្គាល់ដល់មនុស្សគ្រប់គ្នាពីព្រោះរសជាតិ និងលក្ខណៈសម្បត្តិផ្នែកវេជ្ជសាស្រ្តរបស់វាអស្ចារ្យណាស់។ កសិដ្ឋានរបស់យើងមានទីតាំងស្ថិតនៅភាគខាងត្បូងនៃប្រទេសកម្ពុជានៅក្នុងស្រុកគីរីវង្ស។ វាជាកសិដ្ឋានគ្រួសារមួយដែលធ្វើការជាមួយអ្នកផលិតក្នុងស្រុកដែលមានទីតាំងនៅតំបន់ដូចគ្នា។ ជារុក្ខជាតិចាស់ជាងគេត្រូវបានគេដាំ 25 ឆ្នាំមកហើយ ហើយរាល់ឆ្នាំថ្មីត្រូវបានដាំជាបន្តបន្ទាប់។ មោទនភាពមួយក្នុងចំណោមមោទនភាពសំខាន់របស់យើងគឺថាសម្រាប់រយៈពេល 4 ឆ្នាំចុងក្រោយនេះយើងមិនប្រើថ្នាំពុលណាមួយទៀតទេ។ យើងមាននិន្នាការរីកចម្រើនសរីរាង្គហើយសង្ឃឹមថានឹងទទួលបានវិញ្ញាបនបត្រ ឬស្លាកសញ្ញា។
ម្រេចវែង គឺជាធាតុផ្សំដ៏កម្រនៅក្នុងម្ហូបអឺរ៉ុប ប៉ុន្តែវានៅតែអាចត្រូវបានរកឃើញនៅក្នុងប្រទេសឥណ្ឌា និងនេប៉ាល់។ ហើយក៏ជាល្បាយគ្រឿងទេសនៅអាហ្រ្វិកខាងជើង និងនៅក្នុងការចម្អិនម្ហូបរបស់ឥណ្ឌូណេស៊ី និងម៉ាឡេស៊ីផងដែរ។ ម្រេចវែងពីតំបន់កំពតនៃប្រទេសកម្ពុជាមានរសជាតិឆ្ងាញ់។ វាមានគុណសម្បត្តិជាច្រើនដែលធ្វើឱ្យម្រេច កំពតមានរសជាតិល្អ និងមានក្លិនពិដោរ។ ជាទូទៅវាមិនហិរខ្លាំង ឬជូរចត់ទេ ហើយ ទោះបីជារសជាតិហិរល្អជាងម្រេចដ៏ទៃទៀតក៏ដោយ ក៏យើងអាចស្រូបយករសជាតិឆ្ងាញ់របស់វាបានផងដែរ។
Le poivre long : Une épice gastronomique que vous devriez connaître
Aussi appelé Pippali ou Indian Long Pepper, le poivre long vient de la famille des Piperaceae.
Peu de personnes connaissent ce type de poivre, et à juste titre : la plupart des commerces occidentaux ne proposent que du poivre rond ou déjà moulu.
Deux espèces sont apparentées au poivre long : Piper Longum et Piper Retrofractum. Pour faire simple, nous parlerons de « poivre long ».
Physiologiquement, le poivre long est une liane grimpante pouvant atteindre 10 mètres de longueur. Cette liane nécessite un tuteur pour pouvoir se développer et croître.
Le poivre peut être récolté à différents stade de maturité : le poivre noir est un poivre cueilli en début de maturité, c'est-à-dire vert, puis séché au soleil. Le poivre rouge quant à lui, est récolté lorsqu’il est mûr puis est séché au soleil.
Kiri Farms : ferme familiale dans la province de Takéo
A Kiri Farms, nous développons cette épice et tentons de la faire connaître aux yeux de tous car sa saveur et ses biens-faits médicaux sont étonnants.
Notre ferme est située dans le Sud du Cambodge, dans le district de Kirvong. C’est une ferme familiale, travaillant avec des producteurs locaux, situés dans la même région.
Les plus vieux plants ont été plantés il y a maintenant 25 ans.
Une de notre principale fierté est que depuis 4 ans, nous n’utilisons plus aucun pesticide. Nous tendons vers une culture biologique, et espérons obtenir une certification ou un label.
Deux principales utilisations de cette épice sont faites: en cuisine et pour la médecine.
Concernant le côté médicinale, le poivre long est un remède traditionnel contre les maux d’estomac ainsi que les indigestions. Dans ce sens, il améliore la digestion et l’appétit. De plus, le poivre a la faculté d’agir sur les maux de tête ainsi que les insomnies.
A propos de son utilisation en cuisine, le poivre offre de nombreuses possibilités. Fort de son goût à la fois fruité, avec des notes de cannelles, de muscade et de cardamome, il est facile de le cuisiner.
Il est possible de le manger frais : c’est-à-dire encore vert. Il suffit d’en ajouter dans une sauce ou sur un steak : vous pourrez trouver sur ce même site, notre recette authentique de curry Khmer faite à base de poivre frais. Le poivre long est aussi utilisé lorsqu’il est sec : c’est la forme que l’on connait le plus. Il peut être soit haché ou finement moulu. Nous proposons une recette simple de steak assaisonné au poivre.
Le poivre long offre donc de nombreuses possibilités d'utilisations. Intéressant et utile dans de nombreux domaines, c'est une épice qui va dans les prochaines années, devenir de plus en plus populaire en Occident.
We are always looking for motivated staff to help us grow. We are hiring individuals with skills in sales, marketing, agronomy, and more. We accept all skill and career levels. If you believe you can contribute to our team then email usyour resume today. Review the job description listed below.
- Schedule: Full-time. Hours negotiable
- Location: #5D Eo Street 360, Phnom Penh
- Salary $300-$400/mo
- Holidays according to Cambodian law
- Sales commission bonus
- Execute marketing plan
- Manage company social media accounts
- Improve the company Internet presence in online directories and marketplaces
- Generate marketing content including writing articles and creating pictures and videos using Photoshop
- Become fluent with CRM system
- Interact with customers who are foreigners and Khmers
- Increase sales of pepper products in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap
- Pitch the products to restaurants, tourist shops, organic stores, etc
- Help with daily operations
- Fluent in English and Khmer
- Excellent computer skills
- A demonstrated history of success in sales or marketing
- Some experience with the following: SEO, Google Analytics, Wordpress, Youtube, Facebook, Photoshop, video editing
Kiri Farms is a family-owned and operated long pepper farm located in Takeo province. We sell retail pepper products in Phnom Penh as well as export wholesale pepper internationally. www.kirifarms.com
Stumbling Across Cambodian History
In the middle of Kirivong district (down the road from our pepper farm) sits a structure thoroughly riddled with bullet-holes.
Undisturbed since the end of the Khmer Rouge era, the local police recently saw fit to renovate and reclaim the place.
Fortunately, I managed to snap some pictures first. Post-restoration photos are at the bottom.
I got some photos from a building across the street which suffered an even worse fate. In addition to bullet hole damage, It appears that the floor has fallen out of the bottom. Was there an explosion?
A War Torn Town
During the time when borders were being redrawn by the French, a large, lower portion of Cambodia was cut out of the country and allocated to Vietnam. Over a million ethnic Khmers still live in that Vietnamese region today, people known as "Kampuchea Krom" (Krom is the Khmer word for 'lower' or 'bottom').
The US government decided during its war in Vietnam that these disenfranchised people would make good allies against Vietnamese Communists. So special Kampuchea Krom infantry forces were armed and trained by Americans to fight the Viet Kong in the south.
Here is where the story gets interesting. Kiernan explains that after the Khmer Rouge (KR) took power, one American-trained Kampuchea Krom battalion in Vietnam made its way back into Cambodia to, "join common cause with the Pol Pot regime."
Some time after their warm reception in Kirivong by KR forces, word came from Phnom Penh leadership on what was expected from these outside helpers... they should die.
Kiernan brings up a famous KR slogan, offering a glimpse into the schizophrenic nature of the genocidal Pol Pot regime: "Spare them, no profit, remove them, no loss." The Khmer soldiers from across the border who sought solidarity with Pol Pot's cause instead became casualties of it, and they were executed.
Maybe none of this historical context specifically relates to our 'haunted house' in Kirivong. But it provides interesting context against which to view our little town, one which is saturated with buried history from merely 50 years ago. In fact, it was one of many Cambodian border-towns pelted during the American cluster bombing campaigns starting in the late 1960's.
We are always looking for motivated staff to help us grow. We are hiring individuals with skills in sales, marketing, agronomy, and more. We accept all skill and career levels. If you believe you can contribute to our team then email us your resume today. Review the job description listed below.
- Schedule: Full-time. 8 AM - 5 PM M-F, 8 AM - 12 PM S
- Location: #5D Eo Street 360, Phnom Penh
- Phone and gas stipend
- Holidays according to Cambodian law
- Sales commission bonus
- Translate between English and Khmer
- Implement improved processing and production methods on the farm
- Implement traceability (inventory) system
- Do social media marketing
- Interact with foreigners and Khmers
- Contribute to daily operations
- Increase customer base and improve marketing
- Other tasks assigned by management
- Excellent English and Khmer. French or Vietnamese desired but not required.
- Excellent computer skills
- Currently studying agronomy or related field
About Kiri Farms
Kiri Farms is a family-owned and operated long pepper farm located in Takeo province. We sell retail pepper products in Phnom Penh as well as export wholesale pepper internationally. www.kirifarms.com
Cheap Drinks, Live Music at Coin Cafe & Bar
A redux of our re-opening party in May, we're putting Pavel (zargz!) on again and sprinkling in some sweet drink specials. Come join the fun at Coin Cafe & Bar, Friday, December 7th, 2018.
Party starts 8 PMish but better come early because cheap drinks all day. Cocktails are $2.50, beer is $0.75 - Beer Lao, Cambodia, Angkor, Anchor, and whatever else we have floating around in the cooler.
We ask that you please RSVP to the party on Facebook or on Meetup.com.
Coin Cafe & Bar
Indian Long Pepper: The Gourmet Spice You've Never Heard of
When was the last time you used Indian long pepper in your cooking? Chances are you've never even seen it.
Of the 178 potential retailers we surveyed in our region (hotels, supermarkets, fine restaurants and spice shops), almost 80% have never heard of long pepper. Our on-line survey in France yielded similar results. With 102 people responding, 83% were unfamiliar with this gourmet spice.
While round pepper enjoys worldwide recognition, its taller, more sophisticated cousin may as well be invisible. We at Kiri Farms are working to change that.
If you manage to get a hold of some (we'll show you how), there are many interesting ways to use it. Below we provide some long pepper recipes and discuss other properties of this exotic spice.
What is Indian Long Pepper?
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Indian long pepper goes by many names; pipalli, thippali, pipli, java/Indonesian long pepper, bi bo (Chinese), etc. There are two closely related species of this pepper: Piper Longum and Piper Retrofractum. We'll refer to it all as 'long pepper.'
The fruit of a liana (vine), long pepper has a peculiar way of growing 'upwards' instead of hanging down like round pepper. Many small grains cluster together in the body, which is called a 'catkin.' A fleshy, fruity component glues the grains together forming a spike that measures 3-4 cm in length.
Long Pepper Taste
Long pepper from Cambodia's Kampot region has a unique taste. It shares several of the attributes that make round Kampot pepper great such as a fruitier, robust flavor and a floral aroma. However, it differs in several ways.
Mainly, it is not as hot or bitter. Long pepper, although spicy, is mellower than its round pepper cousin. This allows you to savor its complex flavor without it overwhelming your palette.
We might choose to describe this variation of pepper as spicier than black peppercorns. We don't mean hotter, rather, with more spice overtones. While you will get the heat and earthiness you get from black pepper, you will also detect hints of some of the spices we think of as baking spices; nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger [...] Earthy, heat, a hint of sweetness, with a lingering cooling, makes this a very interesting spice to play with.
Red Pepper or Black Pepper?
In culinary circles, red pepper (the round kind) is generally agreed to be more valuable than black pepper. However, the opposite is often true with dried long pepper.
Long pepper spikes left on the vine ripen to a red color. There is a short period before this color change when they are still green yet mature enough to be eaten. This is the ideal time for harvest, especially when eating them fresh.
Fresh green pepper turns black and fresh red pepper turns dark red when dried. There is little difference in flavor between the two after they are dried. But the black version often commands a higher price.
How to Cook with Long Pepper & Recipes
Whole Dried Long Pepper Spikes
A food processor or coffee grinder can be used to grind whole catkins into ground pepper. Break up the spikes into several pieces before grinding.
Khmer Curry Recipe: We use ground long pepper in our curries. However, you could just as easily steep whole or broken pepper spikes instead. Curry recipe video here!
Whole Fresh Long Pepper Spikes
Our favorite way to eat fresh long pepper involves pureeing them for inclusion in sauces, dips and dressings.
Long Pepper "Tapenade" Recipe: Our twist on this fancy spread starts by pureeing fresh green long pepper with lime juice. Add minced garlic, sea salt, and olive oil. You can stop there or you can experiment with the many other ingredients used in normal tapenade. Have fun!
Ground Long Pepper
Long Pepper Pork Ribs: Ground long pepper is the perfect stand-alone dry rub for meats.
Long Pepper Seeds (Grains)
Whole long pepper seeds work with almost anything. They can be added before or after cooking.
Strawberry Fennel Salad: You can use our new pepper mills for this creative long pepper recipe from the Spice House.
Long pepper just might be the perfect spice. So it may surprise you to learn the primary use of long pepper is for traditional medicine. Both Chinese and Indian cultures have discovered medicinal benefits from using long pepper.
While we aren't experts on the medicinal benefits of Indian long pepper, we would be remiss not to mention it. Many on-line videos offer interesting Ayurvedic remedies and recipes. This one is for cough relief using long pepper, honey, and kantakari.
Where to Buy Long Pepper
Don't worry, there are lots of affordable options. Choose one of two methods: surf or turf!
If you prefer to 'surf' then you can check all the popular web-based marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, Alibaba, Ali Express, & Amazon.
If you prefer to 'turf' then some planning may be required. Start with Indian grocery stores as they are the best bet to have the product in stock. Your local supermarket may have it stocked on its shelves, too. Organic stores, health food stores & spice shops are likely to carry it, and they'll be happy to check if you call them in advance. Last but not least is the delicatessen (épicerie fine), the holy grail retailers of specialty spices and fine foods. Check your local business directory to discover if there are any near you.
If you find a place that doesn't carry long pepper and you think it should, be sure to refer them to Kiri Farms! We love sharing our products with the world.
Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoy a few fun pictures from our pepper farm
Motorcycle Trekking in Cambodia
The Cambodian countryside is a real delight for motorcycle treks. However, if you’re not prepared to soak up some authentic local culture then you may want to avoid spending time there. Recently, I packed up the toilet paper and headed down to Kirivong, Takeo, the location of our pepper farm.
Even though the majority of roads in Cambodia have undergone a major upgrade in the last decade there are still plenty challenging rides to be had. I never even owned a motorcycle before moving to Cambodia, but even riding through a place like Koh Kong, the most scenic and varied provincial terrain, is no trouble for a novice like me.
Foreign development projects are the main reason why the roads in Cambodia have become so navigable. In Koh Kong, for instance, Chinese developers have made formal roadways out of what were once only dirt trails in order to service the several hydroelectric dams they have built.
Getting to our pepper farm in Takeo province is a piece of cake (unless you factor in getting run off the highway by trucks). But I did manage one little trek worth reporting. For the first time, I made it to the top of what I call ‘Mt. Kirivong,’ the small mountain at whose base our pepper farm sits. In the past I’d circumnavigated the base of the mountain attempting to find the trail to the top - with no success.
But this time I had some help from one of the natives - my girlfriend.
Mini Dirt Bike Ride up Mount Kirivong
We were greeted by some policemen lounging in hammocks (you won’t find an over-zealous police department in rural Cambodia). One kind fellow pointed us in the direction of the hidden trail that goes to the peak of Mt. Kirivong. I was so happy to finally find the trail to the top that I decided to shift focus. The Khmer Rouge relic follow-up photos would have to wait: An unplanned trip up the mountain beckoned us.
After we snapped some photos we made our way back down the sandy trail.
It was a pleasant, mildly challenging round-trip ride. However, I would be lying if I claimed we survived without incident. We didn't exactly fall off the mountain, but... you can check the video.
At the end of the day I was happy to scratch this Kirivong activity off the to-do list. Too tired for a photo shoot of the 'haunted' Khmer Rouge house, we headed home. My amateur documentary efforts were delayed till another day.
Spicelight: Long Pepper
Long pepper, Piper longum, is the sweeter and spicier cousin of the black peppercorn you already know and love. It was once the most popular pepper of the Romans, but was usurped by standard black pepper and has since faded into obscurity in the western world. The flavor of long pepper is hot, with hints of cinnamon and a sweet woody undertone.
“It was a profitable plant for the region to grow about 25 years ago,” says Steve Miller, proprietor of Kiri Farms. “Many families stopped growing it when it became less profitable but our family is one of the few farms which has lasted this long.”
Steve actually prefers using the fresh, green pepper in his cooking.“I like the fresh green long pepper which can be used in a similar way to a vegetable. It’s a bit remarkable because it has a wonderfully complex flavor with the texture of a vegetable and the heat of pepper. So we use it in stir fried dishes and you can use it in steak sauce.”
On the Kiri Farms blog you will find many traditional Cambodian recipes for using long pepper. They have a neat recipe video for making authentic Khmer curry. Note that the recipe specifically says, “Do NOT substitute regular black pepper.”
The easiest way to use long pepper is in place of black pepper. Try it on a steak or hamburger. You can snap the catkin into smaller bits and feed it right into a pepper mill. You can also throw the whole spikes into a cooking dish, stew or pickle brine. Although snapping it first will release the flavor faster.
While black pepper and long pepper are cousins, they still have their unique flavor profiles. Long pepper is noticeably hotter than black, black pepper burns while long pepper tingles.
The first time I tried this spice I was suffering from a slight cold. I snapped a few fingers of long pepper into smaller chunks and dropped them into my pepper mill. I cracked the mill three or four times over a bowl of simple chicken and vegetable soup. At first slurp I immediately detected the sweet heat on my compromised palette. I consumed an excessive amount of long pepper that night. The warm soup and the tingle on my tongue brought new life into my body, and inspiration into my stomach.
Since then I’ve been enjoying swapping long pepper in place of black pepper in much of my cooking: Over my eggs in the morning, adding it to our curry blends, cracking over my salads, and adding it to my homemade pickles.
Below you will find a fun and simple recipe for strawberry and fennel salad, featuring long pepper. The sweet, juicy strawberries and the heat of the long pepper make for an interesting and yummy flavor profile. The small bits of crushed long pepper pop and crunch in your mouth. Creamy feta mellows out the pepper tingle, and the onions and fennel keep the dish crisp and light. This dish would pair nicely with some grilled fish and white wine.
Strawberry-Fennel Salad with Long Pepper
Strawberries – quartered or shingled.
Fennel – julienne
Red onion – julienne
Feta – cubed (whatever kind you like! I used Greek.)
French grey sea salt – to taste
Long pepper, freshly ground – modest to moderate sprinkling
1 part wildflower honey
1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 part extra virgin olive oil
Whisk dressing ingredients together until evenly dissolved.
Tip: use the lemon juice to dissolve the honey before you add the olive oil.
(optional-add a spot of Dijon mustard as an emulsifier)
Lightly toss onions and fennel in the dressing.
Plate in a shallow a bowl, topping with strawberries, and feta.
Season with sea salt and good amount of fresh cracked long pepper.
Garnish with fennel leaves and enjoy!
Photos of green and ripe long pepper courtesy of Kiri Farms.
See you at the party!
Authentic Khmer Curry Recipe and Cooking Instructions
This article will explain how to make authentic Khmer curry (Cambodian curry). It is a fun challenge if you can locate the ingredients or equivalent substitutes. Some of the ingredients are not easily found outside of Cambodia. But don't be discouraged, this dish is well worth the effort.
Please note that the measurements listed below are approximate and the instructions inexact. No one uses measuring devices in authentic Khmer cooking. The instructions written below coupled with the accompanying video should get you close to the authentic style, but don't be afraid to experiment. Have fun!
1.5 kilos salted chicken, chopped with bones (the bones add flavor)
1.5 kilos coconut milk (fresh if possible)
2.5 grams palm sugar (skor tnot)
1 gram ground long pepper (optional. Do NOT substitute regular black pepper)
1 gram bouillon powder (soup seasoning )
.5 grams curry powder (or substitute star anise. See notes below)
1 gram dried red chili peppers, seeds removed (for chili paste. See notes below)
Chopped carrots, potatoes, white onions, & green beans
Curry Paste Ingredients:
2 fingers of turmeric
6 kaffir leaves
2 Thai red onions
1 whole garlic bulb
6 lemongrass sticks
1 yellow galangal root (see video/pictures for scale)
Important Notes on Khmer Curry Preparation
Curry Powder: We use half a packet of Vianco curry powder mixture in the video. The mass of a full packet of powder is 1 gram when weighed, despite what the packaging says.
You can consider using star anise in place of the curry powder. Star anise is regularly used in the local Cambodian recipe. Some guesswork is required on the number of seedpods to add.
Chili paste preparation: Choose large Thai chilies (or some equivalent). They should be relatively mild and not overwhelm the dish with heat. In Cambodia, whole (seeds removed), dried chili peppers can be purchased at the market by the gram. The chilies are soaked in water until soft (usually a few hours). Once they reach a consistency appropriate for a paste, they are crushed using a mortar and pestle. The resulting paste is what you see in the video and pictures below.
Vegan & Vegetarian Curry Option: This recipe can be followed to make vegan curry when the chicken is left out or replaced with an appropriate substitute.
Khmer Curry Cooking Instructions:
For the curry paste, prepare the turmeric, kaffir leaves, red onion, garlic, lemongrass, and yellow galangal to be crushed. Combine the ingredients in a mortar and pestle and crush to a paste.
Reduce a cup of coconut milk over medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the curry paste to create a thick sauce. Mix in the chili paste and palm sugar until consistent. Add the bouillon powder, long pepper, and curry powder. Thin the sauce with coconut milk as needed (too much coconut milk will limit the amount of flavor that the chicken can absorb). Add the chicken and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add thick chunks of carrots/potatoes and the remaining coconut milk. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Uncover and add onions and beans. Bring to a boil until vegetables are of a good texture. Turn off the heat and let cool for 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
View our khmer curry video above for a demonstration of how it's done. Good luck and happy cooking!
Buy & Sell Bitcoin at Phnom Penh's Coin Cafe & Bar
If you want to buy Bitcoin in Cambodia, come to Coin Cafe & Bar!
You can exchange Bitcoin at Coin Cafe & Bar in Phnom Penh's Tuol Sleng neighborhood. We are cryptocurrency traders and our localbitcoins.com trades are posted to the right. Place an order on localbitcoins to buy or sell Bitcoin and we will complete the trade. If you prefer, you can come to Coin Cafe & Bar in person to exchange digital currencies - or just come in for a chat!
Incidentally, Coin Cafe & Bar is the first restaurant to accept Bitcoin in Cambodia. After you buy your crypto at the cafe you can use it to pay for your delicious meal.
See the map to find the location. We are near the corner of street 95 and street 350, in an alley. Make sure to bring our phone number in case you can't find us, 092.664.557.
Delicious Khmer Food and Western Cuisine
Since 2014, Coin Cafe & Bar has been serving the best Khmer and Western food in Tuol Sleng district (BKK3).
When you call us, ask if the pepper from Kiri Farms is in season and request one of the long pepper dishes.
See the menu above and call to place a delivery order. You can also choose one of the popular delivery services who have partnered with us by clicking their respective links here:
Your Phnom Penh
Check out the picture gallery. We hope to see you soon!
The Best Khmer and Western Food in BKK3
Look closely at the pictures below.
They show the ingredients used to make curry in Cambodia. Can you name them all without checking the answers at the bottom?
There are 17 unique ingredients shown in the 3 pictures below.
-1st Generation Coconut Milk
-Curry Powder (the small bag)
-Lemon Grass Paste (ingredients shown in picture 2)
-Ground Long Pepper from Kiri Farms (the most important ingredient, of course!)
How many ingredients did you guess correctly?
I hadn't been to the pepper farm in about 6 months and being that it's only a 3 hour ride I made it my first since acquiring a new (actually, well-used) 600cc dirtbike from my friend. I'd barely gotten it out of 3rd gear motoring around Phnom Penh before this, my first long-distance ride, so it was nice to have a bit of fun. The odometer goes up to 180 km/hr. I only managed to make it up to 120 on the highway before that needling feeling of, well, your passenger pinching your side to broadcast her fear.
It felt good letting 'er rip for a moment on newly paved Cambodian highway. National Highway #2 takes you all the way to the Vietnamese border and they've done tons of work on it in the last 5 years. The only remaining portion to be completed is about 5 minutes outside the city, past the immaculate (by Cambodian standards) Steung Meanchey bridge.
It was sad seeing that poor guy shortly after he met his fate. I wanted to do something about it.
"What do we do next time we see something like that?" I asked my girlfriend when we stopped for coffee, referring to the carnage I delicately maneuvered around only moments prior. "Cambodia have a number for call when like that. Everyone know," she said. "Great, what's the number?" I enquired. "I don't know," she said.
A member of our party who left after us reported an hour later that the man was still dead when they had gotten to that point, a sheet covering his head, his remains positioned out of the way of traffic.
Cambodian driving will improve with time in spite of what politicians write on paper.
Cambodia is experiencing an adjustment period and the spike in fatal road incidents shouldn't come as a surprise. I would be willing to bet there is more than double as much cement covering the surface of this country than there was 5 years ago. It used to be that potholes large enough to swallow whole cars would act as a deterrent to reckless driving. But with so much new and smooth pavement people are driving faster and more carelessly. Other factors contributing to the road-fatality rate include hyperbolic car ownership numbers and a general boom in economic activity.
The village I was visiting was Kirivong in Takeo province, very near the Vietnam border, home to our long pepper farm. I uncovered an interesting piece of forgotten history, a footnote to Cambodia's Khmer Rouge period, right in the back yard of our pepper farm. Like most of Cambodia's tragic past, it has since been "renovated".... but not before I was able to snap some pictures.
To be continued.
Cambodian Pepper Farm Tour in Pictures
You can read the properly formatted interview with pictures in its entirety published in the interactive magazine here. Otherwise, see below for our republished version. Enjoy!
Spicing up the Food Chain
How long has Kiri Farms been in existence and where exactly is it located?
Kiri Farms is a family owned and operated pepper farm in Kirivong District, Takeo Province, Cambodia. We are six kilometers from the Kampot border, a province internationally recognized for producing the best pepper in the world. Our first trees were planted 20 years ago, and that crop is still going strong. However, about half of the living crop today was seeded within the last five years.
What makes it ideal to grow long pepper in Cambodia?
Climate and soil. Every rainy season, the small mountains that dot this region replenish the soil at their bases with the kind of minerals most conducive to growing great pepper. That is why you find pepper farms such as ours hiding away in foothills.
How is long pepper different from black pepper? What are its main uses and benefits?
Long pepper's flavor is more complex. Using our imagination to describe it, start with the familiar flavor of round pepper and temper the sting. Long pepper will not overwhelm you. Now add the sweet and floral qualities that distinguish Kampot pepper, but in greater measure. Long pepper is more citrusy than round pepper, especially when eaten fresh, and it leaves a cool finish on your tongue. Notes of cinnamon and nutmeg put the finishing touch on a totally unique and under-appreciated spice. Surprisingly, in spite of its complexity, long pepper maintains the universal applicability of your average table-top pepper.
The fresh green long pepper can be chopped up and used in stir-fried dishes. It can be pureed or minced for inclusion in meat sauces, vegetable dips or salad dressings. Whole dried catkins meanwhile, can be used in marinades and roasts. They can be used in vegetable pickling or allowed to steep in soups.
Long pepper is also used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. It is said to improve appetite and digestion, as well as treat a catalog of stomach and intestinal issues.
What variety of long pepper does Kiri Farms produce?
Piper Retrofractum is the long pepper species that we grow, a cousin to the more common round pepper species, Piper Nigrum, which we also grow at Kiri Farms.
Could you tell us about the farming method you employ? How does this contribute to the quality of yield?
The farming method we use is traditional agriculture, which is labor intensive. Currently, no machines are (or have been) used for cultivation, maintenance, harvesting, sorting, etc. Even tilling the soil is done with hoes.
New trees are produced from cuttings of old ones. The vines climb up wooden poles with about three meters of exposure above ground. Harvesting occurs for about six months of the year coinciding approximately with the rainy season, from August until February. We tap the well-water on our property during stretches of no rain. Cow manure is used to fertilize the plants once or twice a year, and earth from nearer the mountain is used to replenish the soil at least annually as well. This is not a small task since the earth must be manually collected using buckets and then carried to the farm.
What about the harvesting, drying and processing methods employed?
Harvesting is straightforward. Long pepper spikes are individually hand-picked off the vine and readied for drying.
Fresh pepper spikes are blanched before being spread out on nets to be dried in the sun. It takes about five days of full sunlight for them to completely dry.
A portion of the crop is shipped to Phnom Penh for further processing where it is milled and bottled to be sold in retail form. This is done at our cafe, where we serve dishes prepared with the long pepper products we sell.
Where and how do you currently market your products?
There is a farmer's market in Phnom Penh held weekly at Farm to Table. That has been a good opportunity for us to gain some exposure locally. Unlike black pepper, the uses of which are universally understood, long pepper is a virtually unknown spice at the moment, so we are faced with the challenge of educating our potential customers. The farmer's market is well-attended and gives us an enjoyable setting in which to do that.
The bulk of our sales goes to middlemen who trawl the neighborhood farms to fill large orders as they come in from China and Vietnam. Many tons of pepper are annually hauled off the farms in our district and exported to companies in those countries who mostly process it for consumption as Chinese medicine. Additionally, a portion of our annual sales makes its way to Kampot pepper merchants, who use more rigorous processing and packaging methods before exporting it as a spice.
Our products are likewise available on eBay and Etsy in the US.
We hope to extend our reach to Germany and are currently working with an agent to fulfill orders for some 500kg of pepper. Ultimately we want to work directly with international customers as we are wholly capable of filling orders ourselves from a technical, procedural and logistical standpoint.
In what forms can buyers order your long pepper? Do they carry the Kiri Farms brand?
Our long pepper comes in four forms. For whole pepper, we have both the fresh, green and red spikes, and the sun-dried spikes. We likewise have the milled (coarse) type and the finely ground.
Our retail products sold in glass jars carry the Kiri Farms branding. The rest are packaged and branded to customer’s preference.
Is there a minimum order that you require?
No. Small retail orders can be filled from our staging points in Australia, the US and the UK.
What is the turn-around time for delivery?
This depends on the location of the buyer, whether the product is in stock or in season, and other logistical factors.
Company: Kiri Farms
A: #5D, Street 360
Sangkat Boeung Keng Kang 3, Khan Chamkarmon
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
T: +855 (0) 92 664 557
Buy Premium Pepper Spices in Phnom Penh
To purchase long pepper from Kiri Farms you have several options. From the USA, you can use The Spicehouse to order our goods. From the EU, you can contact one of our partner distributors in France and Germany. Click our Contact page to find the links for those and other options.
If you are in Cambodia, your best option to buy long pepper is at the humble Coin Cafe & Bar in Tuol Sleng neighborhood.
Of course, if you have any questions at all then we are eager to answer them. Please send us an e-mail!
As we discussed in a previous article, the cost of living is low in Cambodia.
This is one of the freest markets in the world when it comes to small businesses. The government simply doesn't have the sophistication or desire to enforce obtrusive regulations on the little guys. It's only when you start making real money that someone will come knocking, and even that can be less worrisome than it sounds.
Phnom Penh is a place which compels entrepreneurship from residents. Anyone with a ground floor apartment is a business owner, almost by default, so the place is saturated with small, usually family-owned businesses, including our cafe. The cafe would not be financially sound were it not for the fact that we make it our home in order to save on rent.
Previously, we saw how this highly competitive, mostly free market is the catalyst for tight margins and low consumer goods prices. Here, I'd like to go into a bit greater detail on the general cost of living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, one of the most efficient markets in the world.
At one point recently, Cambodia had the highest mobile subscription rate per capita in the world. The telecom market has been one of Cambodia's most fiercely competitive since its nascent days when it seemed like new mobile and internet providers were springing up every week. Eventually, cries from observers began ringing the hollow refrain, "there is too much competition," and the government responded by introducing a regulatory scheme and fixing prices. The industry experienced a period of consolidation shortly thereafter and now it is rare for new players to enter the scene.
On the bright side, Cambodian phone companies don't currently require you to sign a contract, and phones are not 'locked', which means you are free to buy whatever phone you like and use it with any provider by purchasing their sim card. Your sim can then be 'topped up' with a scratch card from your provider, sold everywhere in Cambodia. I can't imagine there being a more fluid market than that for mobile phones, phone cards, and data plans. Phone sellers and re-sellers are everywhere, and pretty much every retail shop in the country has phone cards for sale if you need to top-up your sim.
Prices for internet access are reasonable in Cambodia. At our cafe we pay $75 for 6 months of wired connectivity including equipment rentals and good bandwidth. Some mobile internet plans start at $5 per month at not-too-bad speeds in Phnom Penh, and wireless and 3G coverage in the province is surprisingly good in many places.
Gasoline prices in The Kingdom are a bit higher than average, recently running about $0.80 per liter ($3 per gallon). That's nothing to complain about considering Cambodia produces no petroleum domestically. Major Gulf of Thailand drilling plans fell out of the news last year after Chevron sold its stake in a Cambodian-controlled bloc, so don't expect Cambodian gas production to outperform global averages any time soon.
Cambodia has been experiencing a steady increase in electricity consumption for quite some time. Just five years ago there were hardly any power lines in the countryside, but now don't be surprised to find most places on the grid.
A large chunk of what gets consumed in Cambodia is supplied from neighboring countries like Vietnam. However, In the last few years Chinese companies have completed several major hydro-electric projects in Cambodia, helping to alleviate the demand. In fact, the electrical grid has suddenly become stable in Cambodia when contrasted with the frequent rolling blackouts of just a few years ago.
Electricity prices, as might be expected, are slightly higher than regional averages. We pay $0.25 per kilowatt-hour, but it can cost less depending on where you live in Phnom Penh. At our house in Takeo province we pay $0.30/kwh.
Cheap prices are only half the story in Phnom Penh. The other half is convenience. Imagine living in a city where everything you need is right around the corner from you, regardless of where you are. Recently, I had some leather dress shoes tailored for $25 and the hardest part was deciding which of the several shoe-makers to choose in our neighborhood. When I tore my dress pants, I took them to a tailor one street over and had 3 pairs cloned for a total of $55.
If you buy your clothes off the shelf then you'll have no trouble finding a retail store near you, not to mention the many open-air markets in town, each with dozens of clothing stalls. Name-brand outlets are all over Phnom Penh (don't ask me if they're legitimate) and there are several western style malls dotting the city, as well. From a simple man's perspective you won't have trouble finding anything you need.
It's true that Cambodia is not a place where you should go for major medical procedures, but things are changing and the day will come when that is no longer true. In the meantime, neighboring Thailand is a popular destination for medical tourism and Vietnam is loaded with quality doctors as well. As for most medical necessities, however, you could do a lot worse than Cambodia. I recently went to the emergency room to get about 10 stitches and the total cost was $25; no lines, no paperwork, paid cash, out in no time. Try and beat that.
I'll give you some more perspective on how out-of-control prices for basic services have gotten in the West. In Phnom Penh it costs $10 to get your teeth cleaned - no insurance, no appointments. $10 is less than the insurance copay in the USA. But we're not talking about some back alley operation here. I walked in on a weekday with my girlfriend recently and we were serviced immediately, each with a dentist and an assistant, in a clean, westernized, sanitary environment. You really could not tell the difference between the procedure here and what you would encounter in the West except for the lack of bureaucracy and waiting. And, oh yeah, there are 3 dental clinics within a block of our cafe.
Need a pharmacy? They are everywhere, too. Not only are the prices for generic medicines extremely cheap, you don't need a prescription to get what you need.
One last note, my friend had crossed eyes since birth so I volunteered to pay for his corrective eye-surgery. It cost me less than $150 for the procedure including the several follow-up visits. The ophthalmologist did excellent work and, of course, insurance was not required.
There is very little that has me concerned in terms of basic medical care in Phnom Penh. Just don't expect to find me booking an appointment for bypass surgery here if I need it.
In closing, here are a few brief examples of cheap prices in Phnom Penh. All of these things can be found within 1 block of our cafe:
- A 1 hour oil massage including sauna, jacuzzi, showers and tip, $8
- A glass of Jameson Irish Whiskey, $2 (from Coin Cafe, of course)
- A pack of cigarettes, $0.75
- A haircut, $1.25
- Daily gym access, $0.50
- Car wash, $3
You can achieve a quality of life in Cambodia very close to what you're accustomed to from the West for much less money and with greater convenience. An entrepreneurial society and a lightly regulated economy keep margins tight and prices low. This is great news for consumers, but not the greatest news for cafe owners!
Kiri Farms was recently invited to participate in a new, weekly farmer's market in Phnom Penh, held right down the street from us at the immensely popular eatery, Farm to Table. The event does not disappoint, drawing hundreds of guests in the two weeks since we began participating. Vendors number approximately twenty, offering locally produced goods like rice, pepper, fruits, vegetables, teas, and plenty more. Live musicians play while guests enjoy the serene atmosphere and family setting afforded by the outdoorsy venue. Check out our video below and click the links above for more information.
BREAKING NEWS: In an act of unparalleled magnanimity in devotion to Khmer arts, Coin Cafe, purveyor of the best foods in Tuol Sleng district, has begun offering FREE weekly apsara dance classes open to public participation. Classes are reported to be held regularly on Saturdays, 10 AM, at the aforementioned exemplary cafe. All ages, classes, races, and sexes are said to be invited to come partake of the philanthropic initiative begun by Coin Cafe, but children are especially encouraged to participate. However, no confirmation has yet been made regarding the inclusion of animals.
Classes are being taught by the seasoned professional teacher and apsara dancer extraordinaire, the adorable Ms. Sophal. Her resume reads as such:
"I am a professional apsara dance teacher, teaching young children at The Indochina Starfish NGO in Phnom Penh for the past 5 years. I started learning the traditional Cambodian art of apsara in 1998 and trained rigorously for 7 years before starting to pass on my skills. I have been motivating and educating students from all levels, from all walks of life..."
Outside sources have confirmed that Coin Cafe has made an excellent choice of teachers.
Further inquiries may be made to Coin Cafe whose information can be found on Facebook.
Let's talk about food prices in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It's cheap living, but let me give you some background before we dive in. I run a few small businesses including a cafe and a pepper farm. In the six years since I moved to Cambodia the exchange rate hasn't budged, staying around 1 US Dollar to 4000 Cambodian Riel the whole time. US Dollars are accepted everywhere in Cambodia (and often preferred) thus simplifying our discussion of prices.
Cambodia is a place where consumers are highly sensitive to prices. Combine that with low barriers to entry for businesses and a highly entrepreneurial society and what you get is a very efficient system of price-discovery for any given good or service. This means that profit margins are razor thin. That has been my experience with my cafe, where our customers would balk were we to raise drink prices by as little as a nickle. So let me give you an idea of exactly how thin those margins can be from my experience with Coin Cafe.
We sell a cup of coffee for 2000 Riel (That's 50 cents, but coins do not circulate so Riel notes are required for amounts under $1). Sounds cheap, right? Well, there is a girl with a stand around the corner from us who sells it for 1000 Riel. There must be a dozen places that sell coffee within 3 blocks of us, and that would be true for any given location in Phnom Penh. It's the Wild West of cafes!
Coffee is cheap, especially in South-East Asia where Vietnam is the world's second largest exporter. The primary growing regions in Cambodia, the mountainous provinces bordering Vietnam, Mondulkiri and Rattanakiri, have not enjoyed nearly the same renown as their neighbor. Having sampled several of the local brews on a recent trip to Mondulkiri I can tell you it is not for lack of quality. Vietnamese brand coffee beans, in spite of traveling across borders, enjoy greater penetration at coffee shops across Cambodia than the domestic stuff. The reasons for this anomaly are many, but let's just say the Cambodian coffee market, like most other domestic food production, is light-years behind the more mature markets of neighboring countries. Significantly more capital and expertise will be required before Cambodia can reach it's potential.
In keeping with the theme at our cafe of selling Cambodian products, we offer coffee produced in Rattanakiri Province, the Northeastern-most region of Cambodia. 500 gram bags are $4 at Coin Cafe or you can visit the retailer, Cafe Nation Shop near O'Russei Market, and pick up a bag for $2.50.
Do you want fresh milk with your coffee? Well, that's a problem. All the dairy in Cambodia is imported from neighboring countries and a 2-liter jug of milk (half a gallon) will run you $4.30 from the supermarket. That's expensive enough to preclude most eateries from keeping it on-hand, especially smaller places like ours. Instead, we use condensed, sweetened milk which is ubiquitous in Cambodia for it's longer shelf-life and cheaper price. I'll admit that iced coffee with sweet milk can be a delicious treat but it troubles me that there is such a small market for the real deal, especially in largely agrarian Cambodia.
Until recently, Cambodia has lacked the expertise to produce domestic dairy products at a commercial level. However, I'm excited to report that a new dairy farm has recently sprung up on the outskirts of Phnom Penh and is poised to take the city by storm. I've walked the facility and tested the milk and, in my opinion, it is outstanding. The company is still in its nascent stage, limiting distribution and marketing until the details have been ironed out. In the meantime, we sell it at the cafe for $2.50 per liter. Get more information on the farm or order some for yourself by visiting www.khmerfreshmilk.com.
Beer, our best seller at the cafe, and probably all of Cambodia at large, sells for 2500 Riel. That's right, a mere 63 cents will get you a can of the local brew and our lovely staff will even open it for you, free of charge! We buy a case (24 cans) for $13. Do some math and that's $2 profit per case. We have to sell 24 cans of beer just to make $2, and that is BEFORE subtracting expenses! That sounds like a great deal for the consumer, right? Not so fast. If you are the average Khmer person (Khmer, the ethnicity of most Cambodian people), what is stopping you from buying a case yourself, or buying single beers from the convenience store for slightly less? The street where we operate is packed with cheap alternatives, and most people are outside drinking with friends and family anyway (public drinking laws? Not here).
I have to mention that there are at least a dozen breweries that have come online in the last 5 years. Remember how regulations are low, margins are tight, and society is entrepreneurial in Cambodia? Those factors are at play in the beer market. And now, believe it or not, these factors have spilled over into the budding, craft brewing scene. You heard right, home-brew distilleries are popping up in Cambodia and many are flying under the radar. While distributing menus for my cafe in Tuol Sleng neighborhood I stumbled on one such operation whose first batch will be ready this week! Believe me, these guys know what they're doing. More about them can be found here.
Let me tell you a bit about cost-effectiveness in Cambodia. Our menu is packed with delicious dishes whose ingredients we keep tucked away in our fridge. But we couldn't possibly maintain an inventory for all those sumptuous delights on-hand at all times because food spoils and we do not do enough volume to justify it. If you were to order, say, mushroom-cream steak, chances are we probably don't have the mushrooms, the creamer or even the steak available on-hand. No problem, we simply fire up the motorbike and go to one of the many markets nearby. The cost to you for this guaranteed freshness wouldn't exceed 5 minutes. Isn't that neat? This is how things work in Cambodia: take the moment as it comes.
Steak is the priciest dish we offer. In Cambodia, all of the good beef is imported. We buy Australian beef at $14.50 per kilo of "oyster blade". The domestic beef industry consists mostly of family operations doing their butchering in open-air market stalls. The meat is often tough and stringy but passable when cut into small pieces for stir-fry or BBQ. So you won't hear many locals complaining about poor quality steak right now because that's not how they usually eat their beef. And believe me, they eat plenty of it. One of the best and most ubiquitous pieces of local nightlife comes from beer gardens. You can't spit outside the tourist areas without hitting one. You can get a big plate of BBQ beef (with rice of course) and a pitcher of beer for $4. What else could you want?
Cambodia isn't all coffee and beer. In a follow-up piece I'll discuss some of the other non-food prices in the neighborhood, like energy and entertainment. The sky is the limit for this country, let's hope the cost of living doesn't follow suit.
Coin Cafe was begun with the intention of promoting all things Khmer, particularly Khmer foods and retail products. Unfortunately, domestic industries in Cambodia are still struggling to compete with foreign markets. This is especially true in the food industry, where most raw goods are exported for processing before being imported again for consumption. It's so bad, in fact, that Khmer consumers themselves consider foods processed within Cambodia to be inferior to those processed elsewhere.
It's for these reasons that we support local companies like Khmer Mekong Foods who manufacture delicious local juices with GMP & HACCP certifications. Similarly, quality-intensive projects like CoCo Khmer, who have single-handedly created the market for domestic coconut oil, are needed to improve the image of local branding. Then there is MooMoo Farms, Cambodia's first dairy who has so recently begun operations that it's first batch of milk hasn't even spoiled yet! All three of these companies' products are available for purchase at Coin Cafe. Additionally, our coffee, a quality product of Rattanakiri province in Northeastern Cambodia, can be purchased from us in 500g bags. Come try it!
Kiri Farms Blog
Latest news, promotions, recipes and happenings from our humble Cambodian farm
Apsara Dance Lessons
Can You Name ALL The Ingredients To Authentic Khmer Curry?
Coin Cafe And Bar
Dirt Bike Cambodia
Easy Long Pepper Steak With Long Pepper Cream Sauce
Indian Long Pepper
Khmer Rouge History
Kiri Farms Interview
Kiri Farms Now Grows Round Pepper
Kiri Farms Pepper Lives At Coin Cafe In Phnom Penh
Long Pepper Chicken Wings
Long Pepper Pork Ribs
Long Pepper Sold Here
Making Scarves The Old-Fashioned Way In Cambodia
Prices In Phnom Penh
There Is A Farmer's Market In Phnom Penh
What Is Long Pepper?