Sunday, June 15, 2008

red hot ..... or not

routinely used in turkish cooking, and also in some other mediterranean cuisines, this potent bright red paste packs quite a punch in terms of flavour. while it can be bought in jars from (middle eastern) grocery stores which carry it, the paste is quite easy to make at home and stores well for several weeks in the fridge as long as it is covered with oil, as you would do for harissa. depending upon the brand you buy, it will vary in degrees of heat level however with a homemade one you can control the spiciness.

different people make this different ways. one of the "real" ways to make this involves cutting, seeding & blanching the peppers {some people salt them to extract excess water}, grinding them and then leaving the finished mixture to dry outdoors. over a few days in the hot summer sun, it will lose moisture and then darken to a thick reddish maroon colour. i'll be honest — while i prefer making foods the proper and authentic way, the idea of the potential for insects colonizing the prepartion is a big deterrent for me for a variety of reasons, in addition to the "yuck!" factor. i digress....

i make it a much quicker way, one which my aunt's friend showed her — almost in the same manner which i saw, several years back, in a book by author, p. wolfert. doing it the way i show here takes 30 to 45 minutes, preparation and cooking time factored in. it is very straightforward and uses everyday red (capsicum) peppers. most of the work, if you can call it that, comes in reducing the mixture over the stovetop. the only drawback to this method is the 'spitting' of it while it cooks down. i suggest putting either tea towels or newspaper (safely weighed down!) around the stove top and counter.

so what does one do with this paste? well, we used it to add to either bulgur or rice dishes. it was mixed with the water or broth and then this was added. since it has a lot of flavour, very little salt or pepper, if any, was necessary. that, LOL, is about all we ever did with it; i'm sure there are many other dishes it is used in.

the amount here only makes about 1/3 of a cup (or maybe a little more). if you want, you can adjust the amounts as you need. if you don't like very hot things, reduce the amount of red chili peppers you use but don't omit them! make sure to keep the paste covered with oil at all times to create a seal so no mold will develop. as i said earlier, made this way it's good for quite a few weeks (which is why i only make a small amount at a time). use about a heaped tsp per 2 cups of liquid or to taste.

quick (turkish) red pepper paste

makes ~ 1/3 c paste


2 very large red peppers
1 to 2 dried red (cayenne) peppers
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive oil (not extra v)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil, extra (not extra v)


before starting:

reconstitute the red cayenne peppers in 1 cup of boiling water and let sit for 1 hour until softened. with rubber gloves or under running water, remove the hard stem end and the seeds. leaving a few is ok. if you're into intense heat, then just the stem ends. i don't suggest it. cut the chilis into several pieces

continue on:

take the red (capsicum) peppers and wash them well. cut them in half and seed them and then cut them in strips.

place the red peppers, the chili peppers, 2 tbsp water the salt and sugar and 1 tbsp of olive oil.

blend it for about 4 to 5 minutes (depends upon your blender) until fully puréed. it will be foamy and bright orange.

place the mixture into a dutch oven or wok and bring to a boil, stirring, over high heat.

reduce heat to medium high and let the mixture cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.

reduce heat again to medium low and let cook until it is visibly thickened. when you pull the spoon through the mixture, you will see remain separated for a bit before coming back together again.

at this point, add 2 more tbsp of olive oil (only use regular as extra v is too strong). mix well and keep cooking.

you will know the mixture is ready when it has lost most of its liquid and comes together in a single mass.

let the mixture cool completely on a plate.

place it in a jar and pour mild olive or vegetable oil over it and refrigerate. make sure oil is covering it before putting it back in the fridge.



Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Delicious and versatile! Very useful when making Lahmacuns... I am a big fan of bell peppers!



burekaboy — said...

rosa - my fave, too :)) the paste is spicy enough so that a little goes a long way.

sara said...

this is a staple in my kitchen, no cayenne pepper added though. we call it pasta de pimiento choricero. your recipe sounds good (and it skips the insect phase!)and is easier than mine : we dry the peppers, then rehydrate them and finally take all the pulp and mash it, no skins. anyway, you won't put me to work, take a look at this,GGLR:2005-39,GGLR:en%26sa%3DN

i'll keep buying it :)))))

burekaboy — said...

lol @ sara - lazy!! ;p i guess drying them out makes the flavours more intense. this one is pretty good considering it's the quick method. thanks for the link.