Do you know your Aleppo from your Espelette? How about your Gochugaru from your Urfa? Chilli Flakes come in so many variations it can be overwhelming. Let’s demystify things for you and also give you another sneak peek into the Cooking School at Essential Ingredient Newcastle with a Crispy Chilli Oil recipe from our upcoming Yum-pling Dumpling Class.
So which Chilli flakes should you use? Depends on what you’re cooking up…sure you can cross borders and go on your own culinary adventure, but here’s a quick guide to conquering your Chilli-based conundrums!
Aleppo: Named after the Syrian city of Aleppo, these chilli flakes add an unmatched vibrancy in colour and flavour to any dish. They’re sweet and fruity, with a mild smoky heat. Good Aleppo should appear slightly oily in its jar, which indicates that the volatile oils are still intact – key to its bright flavour. For an extra special breakfast gently warm Aleppo chilli flakes in olive oil or butter then drizzle over scrambled or poached eggs, coupled with natural yogurt, soft herbs and sourdough toast.
Crushed Red Chilli: The gold standard for chilli flakes, infinitely useful, most popularly used in Chinese and Italian cuisines in Australian kitchens. Buy in small amounts to retain perfect freshness – no one likes an underwhelming chilli experience. For immediate heat apply liberally to a classic Spaghetti Olio e Aglio along with olive oil, parsley, lemon and parmesan. Or use in the Crispy Chilli Oil below.
Piment d’Espelette: Hailing from the Basque region (between France and Spain – a hotly contested culinary area) Piment d’Espelette has an unmatched chilli flavour. Think of a warm, sweet, fruity little pot of red gold. A splendid addition to fish and rice dishes, it’s classically used in Piperade – a soft stew of capsicum, onions and tomato.
Gochugaru: A cornerstone of Korean cuisine, you’ll find Gochugaru as the all important seasoning to Kimchi, but it’s also used as a flavour base for braises, soups, stews and Banchan – small side dishes usually consisting of pickles or fermented vegetables. Light on heat, but big in flavour, try it in Oi Muchim – a spicy cucumber salad.
Red Bell Pepper Flakes: Commonly used in American cuisine, think of Red Bell Pepper Flakes as Crushed Chilli’s sweeter, crunchier cousin. Use them straight-up as a delicious sprinkle on roasted vegetable salads, dips, nachos and chilli con carne.
Urfa: Also known as Isot Pepper, Urfa is a dried Turkish chilli pepper. These are a favourite of Ottolenghi and food good reason – they have a unique smokey aroma with a peppery raisin flavour. It pairs beautifully with Lamb or Oily fish dishes and shines in a tomato salad. It’s also great with charred vegetables – think an over-the-top Baba Ganoush with warm flatbreads.
Method for Crispy Chilli Oil
- First, prepare a medium-sized heatproof bowl on a trivet or folded tea towel, along with a whisk. Set these aside for easy and safe mixing of your Crispy Chilli Oil.
- Place your chopped Ginger, Garlic, Salt and Gochugaru into the heatproof bowl, mixing to combine. Set aside.
- Gently heat your Grapeseed oil over medium-low heat until just shimmering. Carefully add in your Cinnamon Quill, Star Anise, Szechuan Peppercorns and Crushed Chilli Flakes. Gently steep these for 1 minute, turning the oil down to low and stirring constantly. Beware of burning – if your aromats begin to burn immediately remove your pot from the heat and pour into your heatproof bowl, just watch out for spitting oil.
- Once you’ve poured off your oil and aromats over the Ginger, Garlic, Salt and Gochugaru, add the Sesame Oil and Dried Orange then stir well to combine. Let cool, place in a sterilised jar and pop it in the fridge for the flavours to deepen, at least for a day.
- The oil will continue to become more flavoursome and delicious over time so when you’re down to your last few drizzles, whip up a new batch to make sure you always have the best possible Crispy Chilli Oil waiting for your next dumpling dinner! This will last for one month in the fridge.
Our store (located in The Junction Fair) is home to Newcastle’s premier cooking school that offers classes in a variety of cooking genres and techniques, led by local guest and celeb chefs, cooks and TAFE teachers alike. Click here for more information on the Cooking School at The Essential Ingredient Newcastle or call 4926 1991 to book tickets to our classes over the phone.