The main ingredients in chili paste, or chili pepper paste, is chili peppers. The paste adds seasoning and flavor to dishes. A recipe may call for pepper paste, or it can be added to the dish as a condiment after being cooked and prepared. The term “chili paste” is a little bit confusing since there are numerous ways to describe it. Many confuse it with sauce or salsa. However, chili pepper paste has a different texture depending on the type of peppers used to create it.
How Chili Pepper Paste is Made
To create chili paste, start with chili peppers. Then, chop or grind the peppers to create a thick pulp. Next, depending on the flavor you are trying to achieve, add other ingredients to the pepper paste like onions, garlic, and other veggies too. Using different peppers creates different taste varieties. Many prefer to make the initial pulp out of habaneros, but others use serrano chilies, or Thai bird chilies to get the taste they desire. In some cases, the paste is fermented offering a totally different taste variety. Therefore, choose the pepper you want for the flavor you hope to achieve.
Making Your Own Chili Paste
It is relatively easy to make your own chili pepper paste. First, choose the type of pepper you want to use. This is what will determine the overall flavor and hotness of your paste. If your peppers are dry then rehydrate them. Then, remove the seeds from the pepper. If you want a hotter pepper then leave the seeds in the pod. Just remember the more seeds – the hotter the paste.
After removing the amount of seeds for your heat level, put all the ingredients for your paste in a food processor. Then, chop them until they are finely chopped. Common ingredients include garlic and onion but you can also add other veggies if you like. Once you’re done chopping it up, put the mixture in a pot with some olive oil and heat on low for about 20 minutes while stirring it occasionally. Once it has cooked down, add salt and pepper along with any other seasonings you want. This will depend on your particular taste and preference. Let it cook for another 5 minutes to let the flavors blend well. Remove it from the stove and let it cool. Put it back through the food processor and process it until it has a smooth texture. Finally, put it in an airtight jar and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
Different Types of Chili Pepper Pastes
Every region and cuisine makes their version of pepper paste depending on the variety of peppers available. Here are a few of the better-known types of paste:
- Gochujang – This is a hot pepper paste common to the Korean cuisine.
- Harissa – This Tunisian chili paste uses hot chili peppers along with a variety of other spices and herbs.
- Jaew Bong – A Laotian paste which contains a sweet-n-spicy combination.
- Yuzukosho – The Japanese cuisine uses this fermented pepper paste which uses chili peppers, the yuzu peel and some salt.
Ways to Use Chili Paste
There are a lot of different ways to use chili paste whether you buy it, or make it yourself. It will add flavor to many different types of dishes and will provide a flavorful marinade for just about anything. It adds flavor and spice to many classic dishes from pot roasts to potatoes. Adding a little bit to your favorite barbecue sauce gives it a little kick. It adds a punch of flavor to fried rice or noodles. Just remember, it’s going to be spicy and hot, so a little bit goes a long way. Therefore, use it sparingly until you get used to it. Here are some more ideas on how to use your chili paste:
- Add some heat and flavor to soups, stews or casseroles
- Spread it on a sandwich
- Use a little bit in meat mixtures like meatloaf or burgers
- Use it to marinate chicken or fresh fish
- Put some in your mayo or sour cream to flavor a dip
Chili paste is versatile and useful and will enhance the flavor of just about any dish you want. Make it or buy it: just enjoy it!
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