This Sugary Pepper Makes The Most Amazing Steak Bites

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Most food people out there have very strong ~feelings~ about salt. Whether you’re a Maldon or Jacobsen fan, no passionate home cook I know would ever let their flaky salt well run dry. And I’m the same way! (I even travel with my own stash of flaky salt.) But I don’t hear many people talk about pepper all that much. Personally, I’ve never given it a thought beyond the few times a year I replace my McCormick grinder at the grocery store.

But on a whim, I ordered a jar of Sugar Hut Pepper from Skordo, an online gourmet food retailer. It’s a 50-50 mixture of maple sugar (!!!) and crushed black peppercorns from Sumatra. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after a few taste tests I was into it.

This stuff is the perfect combination of pungent, hot, and sweet. The peppercorns are a mixture of fine and coarse grinds, which I appreciate. (I like a little texture to my pepper!) The sugar enhances the peppery flavors, and definitely doesn’t make it taste like dessert. Oh, and don’t worry: The maple is dehydrated, like cane sugar. So the mixture isn’t sticky, like liquid syrup.

After a couple weeks of using it in place of my regular black pepper, I noticed that the high ratio of sugar to pepper helped seared meat turn golden-brown. Essentially, the maple sugar was caramelizing on the meat, thanks to the high-heat cooking method. Accidentally brilliant. Of course, this got me thinking about steak bites (not that I need any excuse for that … )

Steak bites rely on a hard-and-fast sear, which makes them the perfect recipe for showing off this sugary pepper. I’ve made Kitchn’s recipe for Honey-Balsamic Steak Bites a handful of times, and they always come out perfectly. I had a feeling that the Sugar Hut Pepper would be a perfect addition and … I was right!

The next time I was craving steak bites, I followed the recipe almost to the letter, with the following two tiny changes: I swapped out honey for maple syrup (reducing the amount to 1 1/2 tablespoons instead of 2), and I added 1 teaspoon of the Sugar Hut Pepper (if a teaspoon of pepper sounds like a lot, remember that it’s equal parts maple sugar and pepper). The result was a perfect mix of sweet, sour, and spicy. I love that the recipe has a sauce included, and the addition of my “secret ingredient” really boosted the seems-fancy-but-is-secretly-easy factor. I give Steak Bites with Sugary Pepper a solid 10 out of 10 stars, and I will definitely be making it again — just as soon as I’m done broiling this bacon with Sugar Hut Pepper.

Get the recipe: Honey-Balsamic Steak Bites

How else would you use maple-infused black pepper? Share your ideas with us in the comments.

Rochelle Bilow


Rochelle Bilow is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, the former social media manager at Bon Appétit Magazine and Cooking Light Magazine. She has also worked as a cook on a small farm in Central New York, and a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City. Connect with her @rochellebilow.

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