Stanger Pepper Plantation | Kampot Cambodia

World’s Best Pepper

How the World’s Best Pepper is Grown in Kampot, Cambodia

Kampot pepper is very special. It grows best at the foot of the mountains because of the quartz in the soil,” says Sorn Sothy, the owner of Sothy’s Pepper Farm, a small pepper farm near Kampot, Cambodia. The region, along the country’s southern coast, is famed for the spice, which was the first Cambodian product to receive a Protected Geographical Indication (the same certification that protects regional products like Champagne). The mineral-rich soil and rainy weather in the high-elevation areas near Kampot and Kep are perfect for pepper production, and I was here to see it firsthand.
From our home base in riverside Kampot, what had looked like a short trip on the map actually took about an hour. As our tuk-tuk pulled away from the crumbling colonial town, the landscape gave way to lotus marshes and houses on stilts. I closed my eyes each time a bus passed on that unpaved road. I feared that we’d topple into the fetid gully, where earlier, our driver had stopped to collect water to cool his overheating engine.

We spotted pepper vines on either side of us as our driver turned off the road to ascend a hill. Peppercorns have been cultivated in Cambodia since the 13th century, but the industry really boomed under French colonial rule in the 19th and 20th centuries, when European chefs started appreciating Kampot pepper’s notably floral and slightly sweet flavor. The pepper’s most important characteristic, according to Sothy, is its tendency to linger on the tongue. “The taste of Kampot pepper stays in your mouth for a long, long time,” she says. Cambodia’s pepper industry went into a major decline thanks to the Khmer Rouge regime’s policies in the 1970’s, but today it’s experiencing a renaissance as the country reopens to the world.

Read more….