Their birthplace may be the Americas, but chilies have certainly made their way around the world. Embraced in a variety of preparations from mildly spicy to punching heat, CSL shares ways to use them in your cooking.
1/ Gochujang: Korea
Sticky, fermented dark red chili paste made from soy, malt and glutinous rice. All flavours except bitter are present. Traditionally used in Bibimbap, the one-pot rice, vegetable and meat dish, when thinned down, it makes an excellent marinade for meat. Food trucks have made this condiment popular on burgers, hot dogs and as a taco sauce (just mix with mayo).
2/ Harissa: North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria)
Prominent spices (coriander among them) and smokiness differentiate this thick chili paste. It benefits from cooking where its harsh heat is mellowed. Add it to the start of dishes to develop flavour, especially in tagines, and couscous. Do as the Tunisians, and use it as a marinade for fish or as a condiment for brik (fried pastry filled with egg).
3/ Aleppo: Syria/Turkey
Sun-dried whole halaby peppers, their seeds removed, are crushed into bright red pepper flakes. With a mild heat, slight tang and subtle sweetness, Aleppo pepper works well in a simple vinaigrette because of its fruitiness. Add to soups and stews, or sloppy joes that kids can enjoy too. Sprinkled over hummus, grilled fish, or pasta, it marries well with lemon. spicetrader.ca
4/ Shichimi Nanami: Japan
Complex seasoning made from seven spices including red chili pepper, black sesame, nori and citrus peel. Traditionally, used in soups and noodle dishes, it also works as a rub for meat and vegetables. Its prominent citrus flavour cuts rich dishes. Sprinkle it on fried eggs, butter seared scallops or oven fries. Yoshi Togarashi Nanami Dry Chili Blend 60g, qualifirst.com
5/ Sambal Oelek Malaysia/Singapore/Indonesia
Sambals are a staple of Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine, made by grinding chili peppers and seasonings in a mortar. This variation is simply fresh ground chili with a seriously fiery heat. Slather it on grilled cheese sandwiches to amp up the heat and flavour. Mix it with ketchup for fries or add lime, garlic and soy to make a quick marinade.
This original gourmet article first appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.