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Feb 1, 2013 03:00 AM

Do you use Red Pepper Paste?

My husband is from Turkey and I like to cook traditional dishes for him. We buy a lot of Turkish ingredients when we are there and online in between trips. One ingredient I use occasionally is pepper paste, both sweet and hot. Online, they can be bought only in quite large amounts and I never use them fast enough to not waste most of the jar. I'm looking for non-ethnic uses for them. What would be a good application of this ingredient? I've tried freezing the paste, too, but the texture seems to change when I do that. If you google for red pepper paste, you will see what it is, in case you're not familiar with it.

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  1. It's interesting looking stuff - especially the hot one. Although I have never used it, my first thought would be a kinda twist on NO style, barbecue shrimp. Put a little olive oil in a pan, soften some garlic, add a couple tablespoons of the Pepper Paste, then add shrimp - don't even need to peel the shells - and black pepper to taste. The whole thing could be done in ten minutes or so.

    I'm curious, have you ever simply used it as a condiment to top fish steaks, chicken thighs, or pork?

    2 Replies
    1. re: MGZ

      It's not really a condiment. The taste would be overwhelming, I would think. I do use it in a shrimp (Turkish) dish in a very similar fashion as you are describing.

      1. re: gardencook

        Interesting. It didn't seem to be so intense from the recipes I looked at. It does, then, seem to be that its use would be best diluted for you. A similar approach to shrimp might work well for a piece of sea bass or even chicken pieces - although for those, I suppose I'd brown first. Wine might be a good addition? I'm quite curious to try the stuff now.

        BTW - I saw one reference to using as the "sauce" for a pizza!

    2. Hot red pepper paste is a staple of Korean cooking. I should think you could add it to any Asian, Szechuan for instance, recipe for good spicy results. Sweet or hot chili paste will be listed as an ingredient... I use the hot version frequently, especially in stir-frys..

      4 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        I think this is a different animal, Gio. It seems to contain a lot of red bell pepper. Likewise, it doesn't appear to have a strong garlic presence - if any. I suppose it might work as a substitute for the Korean version, but I'm not sure.

        1. re: MGZ

          Thanks for that MZ.. You're probably right. However I might just try it and see if t works....

        2. re: Gio

          This paste is nothing like that. It sounds the same and even looks the same but the taste is more tangy and strong. It is a past that is sort of cooked first and then fermented in the hot sun for days and days till it gets darker and thicker, then it is salted and put in jars. So do not salt before you taste your food and use this sparingly. It is used in many Turkish cooking but to put it straight on a dough as pizza sauce is not what I would recommend.

          1. re: Ftboo

            Yes, since posting my reply I realize that i answered in haste and understand that Asian pepper paste would not suit Turkish the cuisine.

        3. If I had pepper paste, would make my own ajvar, (which I purchase regularly along with ikra at local Middle eastern markets).

          Each has become a standard in our home - sandwich spread, add in or side to vegetables, eggs, salads, soups, meats, poultry, seafood...and just as a dip with flatbread or crackers and sometimes mixed with hummus.

          hmmm...I think I need to try an ajvar recipe...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Cathy

            Ajvar is a condiment and it is not to be mistaken with the pepper paste. If you you read the ingredient list you will see it is not only pepper but many other veggies in there. Ajvar is great on sandwiches, on grilled meets and even grilled veggies and is used as a condiment and not something you cook with.
            I hope this helps.

          2. I'll be interested to see what other responses you get -- I've seen the paste before, but never bought it for not having enough use for it, in terms of Turkish cooking. My first thought was goulash/paprikash, but since I've never tasted the Turkish paste, I don't know if the taste is similar. Would probably taste good, anyway, but maybe not quite the same as a Hungarian paste or dried paprika.

            1. I make it at home. Binnur has a real basic recipe for a small quantity. I lived in Turkey for many years and find her home cooking familiar and easy. I have also frozen my homemade in discs using muffin trays. The texture changes only very slightly if you freeze homemade, but I use it in dishes as an ingredient so it doesn't matter. I have not had store bought for years so that might be different.

              When I make it with half hot peppers, it is very spicy. I find it very versatile. I use it in tomato based Mexican dishes, also enchiladas, etc. I have used it like you use gochujang, in egg dishes, to make spicy mayo for veggie cakes or crab cakes, mixed with olive oil as a drizzle sauce etc. add spices and make Harissa! I would suggest korean, Mexican and Hungarian recipes. I have a pint in my fridge door right now and used it alongside tzatziki sauce last night with my vegetarian night dinner of quinoa vegetable patties over a green salad.

              Fortunately, spicy red pepper is found in many cuisines. Of course, you can always add it to braised meats of all kinds without them having a Turkish flavor profile.

              I hope this gives you ideas. Tell your husband "Merhaba"! :)