Maqaw, a peppercorn-looking seed from an evergreen shrub (Litsea cubeb), is indigenous to Taiwan and a traditional spice for the aboriginal Atayal tribe, commonly referred to as mountain pepper (山胡椒).
It carries the aroma of citrus oil, ginger, peppercorn and takes on notes of lemongrass. The tribal citizens collect the seeds from the shrub and sundry them to intensify the flavor.
For the Atayal tribe, mountain pepper can be steeped as a caffeine-free tea or as a spice for both meat and seafood preparations. A few seeds carry a long way, use gently for the aroma is refreshing yet potent.
Click here to find more information on the Slow Food Foundation's website.
Origin: Hualien County, Taiwan
Species: Litsea cubeb
Elevation : 1,000 meters