One of the most interesting creations with manganji pepper is a chocolate by Japanese Chef Koyama. Koyama is a famous patissiere in Japan who recently re-launched a global chocolate brand called Rozilla. For one of his specialty chocolates he pickles Manganji Temple green peppers – an ingredient he grew up with in his hometown of Kyoto – in both salt and soy sauce and then freeze-dries them. He matches the manganji’s sharp, salty tang with dark 55% cacao chocolate to create an exquisite balance of tart and bitter tastes. The freeze-dried peppers are mixed into almond praline giving a subtle crispy texture to the interior of the choclotae. The Manganji Pepper chocolate can be tasted as part of Rozilla‘s international award winning chocolate box called KYO CHOCOLATE that features iconic ingredients and flavors of Kyoto.
HISTORY OF GREEN MANGANJI PEPPER
Manganji pepper is a Japanese pepper speciality from Kyoto and distantly related to the common bell pepper although its shape and flavor differ. Whereas the bell pepper is round and swollen, the manganji peppper is long, pointed and thin with a shiny skin the wrinkles neat the stem end. It can be found in kitchens across Japan from the humble home cook to the highest levels of Kyoto Kaiseki cooking. Its textural and aromatic qualities make it stand out from other peppers – its ease of preparation make is popular for cooks of all skills.
One curious use of the Manganji pepper can be found in Kyoto whereby juice is extracted from the pepper and then used to make candies. Manganji chili pepper, a typical Kyoto vegetable, is chopped and boiled to make this candy. Despite its name, the vegetable isn’t hot at all but uniquely sweet. The subtle scent and flavor of the Kyoto manganji pepper pairs surprisingly well with sweets. Its refined aromatics act in a similar way to vanilla or cinnamon, creating a subtle yet profound flavor that blooms in the mouth.
GROWING GREEN MANGANJI PEPPER
Manganji peppers are an annual growth vegetable that grow best during the warm summer months. Sees are small and usually come in packets with 75-100 seeds per packet. A seed will vary in weight and size within a given seed lot. Once planted the peppers take approximately 80-90 days to maturation. Planting season begins in Late spring to Early summer.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GREEN MANGANJI PEPPER
Green peppers are highly nutritious and a good source of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Vitamins and phytochemicals found in green peppers have health-boosting antioxidant properties. Peppers possess vitamin A in the form of carotenoids as well as vitamins B6, B9 and C, all of which are powerful antioxidants. Green peppers are also a rich source of vitamin C – surprisingly they contain double the vitamin C content of oranges. Green peppers are also rich in flavonoids and phytochemicals which both assist the body in reducing the formation of blood clots. Another positive nutritional aspect of green peppers is their high fiber content. Fiber reduces the degree of exposure of colon cells to bacteria and toxins by speeding up the transit time of waste matter through the stomach. Finally, research has shown that vitamins A, C and B9 significantly reduce the risk of colon cancer – both of which are present in green peppers.
HOW TO BUY GREEN MANGANJI PEPPER
Choose peppers that are glossy, firm and not too soft. Not-quite-ripened Manganji peppers are delicious because of their aromatic quality. Manganji season begins in early July and runs until Ocotber in Japan whereas if you live in North America you will need to wait until late September. Manganji peppers should be choses according to their vibrancy and firmness. When shopping at a store look for peppers with a firm and shiny appeal that are devoid of any spots, cuts or brown patches on the skin. Manganji peppers with spots and bruises tend to spoil quickly and are a sure sign that they are past their prime.
HOW TO STORE GREEN MANGANJI PEPPER
Slightly firm and mature peppers can be kept refrigerated for up to one week. They should be picked in the morning and used soon after to fully benefit from its extraordinary aromatics.
HOW TO EAT GREEN MANGANJI PEPPER
Classic matches for manganji pepper is soy sauce (shoyu) and the subtle smokiness of bonito flakes (katsuboshi). Grilled manganji peppers match well with similarly treated chicken, pork or beef.
COOKING GREEN MANGANJI PEPPER
One of the greatest attributes of this pepper is that the seeds are small and do not need to be removed before cooking. Simply wash in cold water and towel dry. From that point the peppers can be cooked according to recipes. Green pepper flesh holds up well to high temperatures as its skin blisters and shape wrinkles. The flavor of the pepper benefits from slight charring from the grill or blistering in oil. Alternatively the fresh, pure flavor can be preserved with salt as in Japanese pickles.