Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spicy, Flaky and Smoky: Aleppo Pepper

written by Mei Chin

I am not a spice lover by nature. My parents don’t stomach hot food terribly well, but it was somewhere in the late 90s when my mother introduced red pepper flakes to our larder. But even from the beginning, it was never enough. Discovery, circa 1997? I love hot pepper enough to make the pizza guy’s eyes bulge out when I order a slice.

But that kind of heat (the red pepper flake kind) is a straight shot, a one-two punch. Aleppo pepper, a fruity, sultry pepper from Syria, is not that kind of pepper. Aleppo pepper is the dried, ground skin of peppers of the same name, is mixed with with olive oil and a little salt, and then set to ferment in the sun. It’s spicy and flaky and smoky all at once; the heat starts out mild, but then blooms in the throat, revealing fruitiness and smoke. Aleppo pepper is also clever at hiding itself in dishes where you don’t expect heat, only to reveal itself after the second, or third bite. It is completely delicious, and utterly addicting.

Rated at a 3-4 on the Scoville heat scale, Aleppo isn’t the hottest pepper around, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a pepper for when subtlety is called for, rather than a hammer over the head. It would even be good, sprinkled with abandon, on top of a pizza slice. Don’t think I haven’t tried it.

Photo: The Nibble


Hummingbird Appetite said...

Love the description in the post. Thanks for telling us about the Aleppo pepper.

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Thanks for the intro to Aleppo pepper. Only a few days ago, I made a lovely Syrian dip called Muhammara, which requires some. Alas, i had none to hand, though I made up for it using ground chili pepper from Nigeria.