The Essential Ingredient South Melbourne in September 2018

Greg Malouf – Cooking a Lamb Kifta Tagine

Renowned chef and master of Middle Eastern spices Greg Malouf demonstrates how to make his lamb kifta tagine with egg and artichoke.

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This Month’s Ingredient

Spanish Paprika

Like paprika from other countries, Spanish paprika is produced from the dried red fruits of peppers, but if you’ve tasted it you’ll know that’s where the similarity ends. The most distinctive of Spanish paprika is Pimentón de La Vera, or smoked paprika. This is made from smoking freshly harvested peppers over oak wood fires, which creates a paprika that is slightly sweet with an intense smoked flavour.

There are two leading producers of Spanish paprika – the La Vera and Murcia regions. The production of paprika is regulated by quality-control Denomination of Origin boards to ensure that the traditional process of growing, smoking and grinding the peppers is closely followed.

In the La Vera region, the peppers grown are high in carotene, due to the unique soil and climate, which gives the peppers an iconic bold red colour. After picking, the peppers are slowly smoked in a smokehouse for 10-15 days over a small oak wood fire. This fire gently dries the peppers and gives them a distinctive smokey flavour. Different peppers are used to create the different types of paprika available (picante/spicy, agridulce/bittersweet, and dulce/sweet).

In Murcia, only one type of pepper is used to produce paprika. This is the sweet Bola pepper, which are picked by hand and dried in the sun over several days. Unlike the La Vera paprika, they are not smoked, which produces a uniquely sweet paprika.

Paprika is a key ingredient in Spanish cooking and adds amazing depth to stews, marinades and sauces. With each type having a subtly different flavour, when cooking we recommend considering how sweet, pungent or hot you’d like your dish to be, and then experimenting with the various types of Spanish paprika that is available.

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