After more than a year in Cambodia, I decided it was time to come up with a drink that payed homage to my home away from home. Cambodia has a range of exports, ranging from the mundane to the... less savory. One of the country's signature exports, though, is Kampot pepper. It comes in a variety of forms, from the young, green pepper and the robust and spicy black peppers, to the rare and much sought after white and red peppercorns. Regardless of the variety, though, it is delicious and well suited to a wide range of uses. Including, apparently, libations.
|Early stages of the Kampot Tincture.|
I also wanted to incorporate some other traditional South East Asian flavors besides the Kampot pepper, and ultimately settled on lime and ginger. The standard gin fizz - gin, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white (optional) and soda water - is not one of my usual go-to drinks. While refreshing, I find that the gin is often diluted by the other ingredients and the drink itself is often too sweet for my tastes; if you want a tall cold glass of gin to sip on a hot day, a bit of tonic and a lime will do just fine. That said, the gin fizz provides the perfect base to add a little spice with the pepper. Beyond that, it already incorporates lime juice, and the use of simple syrup offers a built in opportunity to play with some other flavors, too.
|Prepping for the ginger-lime syrup.|
An easily overlooked ingredient that is nonetheless critical to the drink is the egg. It contributes to the unique visual of the Fizz and adds a bit of texture that helps diffuse the spice from the pepper and ginger across the palate without actually diminishing its impact. The use of raw egg can be a little daunting, of course, and it is perfectly reasonable to omit it from the recipe. One of the benefits of doing so is the drink becomes much less filling. That said, give the egg a shot and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
There you have it: the Kampot Fizz. Perfect for a steamy evening floating down the Mekong or admiring a rooftop view of Phnom Penh's ever changing cityscape. Baht som!
|The Kampot Fizz|
6cl - gin
2cl - lime juice
1.5tsp - ginger-lime simple syrup*
1/4tsp - kampot pepper tincture**
1/2 egg white
soda water to taste
Combine the gin, lime juice, simple syrup, and kampot tincture in a shaker and shake for 5-10 seconds. Add the egg white and shake again for 10-15 seconds, until cold. Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass and top with soda water (ice optional).
|Don't forget to stir to help the sugar dissolve!|
As the mixture reaches a boil, remove from heat and allow to cool, then strain into a container and refrigerate.
Soak one cup of black Kampot pepper in two cups of grain alcohol (Everclear is a good option) for one week, shaking vigorously once a day. Strain the peppers out, crush them using a mortar and pestle, and return them to the alcohol for another week (or more to taste), shaking vigorously once a day. Strain using a cheesecloth and store in a glass container.