Kitchn Love Letters

This Sugary Pepper Makes the Most Amazing Steak Bites

published Jul 8, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
sugar pepper steak bites

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.