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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Phu Quoc’s distinctive pepper sauce: Tieu ngao duong

By Linh Thoai Ong – Nguyen Huu Hiep

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Phu Quoc pepper is celebrated for its unparalleled aroma and flavor. Combined with the tradition of anchovy fish sauce, it has given rise to “tieu ngao duong” (pepper sauce) – a regional delicacy that is truly one of a kind.

Tieu ngao duong tantalizes the taste buds with its trifecta of flavors: salty, sweet, and spicy. Crafting this exquisite sauce hinges on a meticulous ingredient selection process. During the harvest season, Phu Quoc black pepper is meticulously handpicked. Farmers select green peppercorns freshly plucked from the vines, which are then sun-dried for two to three days until they acquire their signature black hue.

In the cooking process, the chef simultaneously combines fish sauce and granulated sugar in a hot pan, bringing the mixture to a vigorous boil before reducing the heat to a gentle simmer. This method enhances the fragrance and depth of flavor, elevating it beyond regular fish sauce. To complete the dish, finely pureed black pepper is introduced into the blend. The final step, albeit challenging, requires the cook to stir the mixture diligently at precise intervals to prevent burning and clumping.

Tieu ngao duong presents a harmonious blend of sweetness from sugar, saltiness from fish sauce, and the peppery spice of Phu Quoc pepper. This exceptional sauce pairs exquisitely with a steaming bowl of fragrant white rice, crunchy ambarella, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Moreover, it serves as a versatile seasoning to elevate the flavor of various fish and meat dishes.

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