Maqaw (magao) - pheasant pepper
Maqaw (magao) - pheasant pepper
The dried berry of the Litsea cubeba is called a pepper berry, but it is not, because it does not contain any sharp substance. Nevertheless, it is considered a pepper and traditionally used as such, which is why it has been included in the Ark of Taste by Slowfood.
The Litsea cubeba is a 5-8 meter high tree or shrub with light yellow flowers. In the summer the 5 mm large fruits develop, which are picked or collected when ripe and dried. The red fruits then color rusty brown to black, just like pepper.
The name maqaw - 馬告 - comes from Taiwan where the fruits have been used as a spice for thousands of years by the Atayal and the Saisyat, two indigenous peoples there. It means "full of vitality". It is called the 'black pearl'.
The maqaw grows at heights of 100 to 1. 500 meters, in Taiwan, in the Himalayas in the north of India, Thailand, Nepal and Vietnam, in the south of China and on Borneo (Sarawak and Kalimantan), where the spice is a speciality, just like in Taiwan.
Our maqaw comes from Quảng Ngãi province in Vietnam, where it is called sả rừng (lemongrass), and where it is picked in July by the Hre and K'dong ethnic minorities in the mountainous districts of the province. By the way, the General Vietnamese name is màng tang.
Smell and make
The berries are rich in essential oils, which provide a warm, pleasant smell and taste experience. The combination of citral, citronellal and citronellol provides the citrus notes, the alpha and beta pinene for a cedar flavor, and eucalyptus for a woody, light camphor flavor.
Although the taste palette is very similar to that of siltimur, the taste is clearly distinctive, in siltimur the cedar aroma in maqaw dominates the citruses. Overall, the taste is characterized as pleasantly peppery with sereh notes (see mbongo). The smell is like that of ginger root.
Chef Alex Peng of restaurant Akame once said about this in the Guide Michelin: "mix some white pepper with star anise and Szechuan pepper, and you have maqaw". These are the main essential oils in the fruit:
- citral, sweet citrus flavor of lemon peel
- citronellal, lime leaf (kafir), as in sereh and juniper
- citronellol, main component of sereh
- β-pinene, woody pine scent (cedar), as in cumin, pine(pine cone), juniper berry and hemp,
- eucalyptol (cineol-1. 8) , spicy, mint flavor, as in sage and rosemary
- geraniol, rose fragrance
- safrole , sweet spicy with anise tones
Combines excellently with cardamom, bay leaf, mint, liquorice, thyme, cinnamon and lemon.
Use maqaw as a seasoning with red and white meat (pork for example), duck, fish or shellfish. Can also be used in desserts, biscuits and in or in combination with chocolate. A few berries are enough for a delicious caffeine-free tea.
In Quảng Ngãi, snails are steamed with maqaw, instead of sereh, which is more common in Vietnam. Another specialty is a water buffalo stir fry, with garlic, maqaw and a little bit of sugar. The thinly sliced water buffalo meat is rubbed with a rub of these spices, then stir-fried with some finely chopped onion and seasoned with black pepper and a little salt.
- 100% berries of the Litsea cubeba,
- hand-picked in the wild
- origin: Quảng Ngãi, Vietnam
- available in glass, pouch and test tube
- glass jar contains 30 grams
- standup pouches with a content of up to 30 to 300 grams
- available in 10 ml test tube
- larger quantities on request
- the jar is available in a tasteful gift box, consisting of a cube box filled with black tissue paper
- for an overview of our gift packaging, please refer to the category gift packaging
- maqaw is used whole, bruised, or ground.
- the taste can be dominant (citrus-slightly bitter), adjust the dosage accordingly
- keep your kampot pepper in closed packaging
- preferably store in a dark, dry and cool place
- best before August 2025 (08/25)
- this best before date is an indication
Do you want to know what maqaw tastes like?