- 4 tbsp (36 g) black peppercorns, toasted and finely ground
- 2 tsp (10 g) salt
- 2 tsp (6 g) brown sugar
- 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) fresh lime juice
- 2 lbs (900 g) fresh mussels in the shells, cleaned (see Tips)
- 1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 ml) rice bran, canola or grapeseed oil
- Thinly sliced fresh cilantro leaves, as needed
- Preheat the grill to high heat (450 to 475°F).
- In a medium bowl, mix together the peppercorns, salt, brown sugar and lime juice. Stir thoroughly until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Set the sauce aside.
- Place the mussels on the grill and close the grill’s lid, or place a large metal bowl over the top of the mussels to trap the steam and smoke. Cook the mussels for 2 to 3 minutes. Check to see if all the mussels have opened. If not, cook them for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove the mussels from the heat as quickly as you can and transfer them to a large bowl. Discard any mussels that have not opened.
- While the mussels are still hot, dress them with the sauce and oil. Sprinkle the cilantro over the mussels and serve immediately.
- Always ensure your mussels are fresh before cooking by asking your fishmonger, and making sure there are no offensive smells or broken shells.
- The mussels can be replaced with clams or other shellfish. The sauce works beautifully with most seafood!
I will never forget the first experience of the overwhelmingly fruity and spicy kick of Cambodia’s Kampot black pepper. Mostly because it was delicious, but also because I was in the remote province of Preah Vihear (near the border of Thailand and Laos) and didn’t realize I was eating pepper-coated frog legs!
Pepper offers such an exciting depth of flavor and texture. We often add only a sprinkle or a shake to dishes, so when I discovered pepper being used abundantly as the main flavoring for many dishes and sauces in Cambodia, I was completely taken by surprise.
This dish is one of my absolute favorites on the barbecue and a tribute to the magical pairing of Cambodian pepper and seafood. There is nothing better than plump, juicy shellfish paired with this tangy, fragrant and peppery Cambodian sauce called tuk meric.
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