Know your chili pastes

chili garlic paste

Don't know the difference between naam prik pao and gochujang? That's okay, because indexed blog Food52 has constructed a primer to help you learn about the many varieties of chili paste. 

They begin by dividing chili pastes into five broad categories: hot, fishy, spiced, fermented, and sweet(ish). Examples from various cuisines are provided to illustrate each category. The examples include pastes you probably already know, like harissa, as well as lesser known styles such as shatta (a thick, creamy Egyptian chili paste featuring tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, black pepper, parsley, and garlic) and ajika (a Georgian paste made with walnuts, hot peppers, and various spices including fenugreek).

The lists are not comprehensive, but the primer should help you decide into which category that chili paste recipe you've bookmarked falls. As always, the EYB Library is stocked with loads of recipes for (and recipes that use) many of these chili pastes and more. Here are a few to get you started:

Basic chili paste to replace chili powder from Serious Eats
Roasted red chili paste (Nam prik pao) from Everyday Thai Cooking by Katie Chin
Gluten free Korean chili paste (Gochujang) from Critical MAS
How to make harissa paste from The Kitchn
Sambal oelek from  Serious Eats
Sriracha sauce
from Fine Cooking Magazine by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim

Photo of chili garlic paste from The Minimalist at The New York Times by Mark Bittman

1 Comment

  • pokarekare  on  5/28/2015 at 6:32 PM

    Ha! reminds me of the first time I ever used chilli! Just married, I decided to make chilli con carne for dinner. The recipe [for 1 pd mince] asked for 1 tblspn of chilli powder. I did not understand then that chilli powders were actually a blend of spices and bought pure birds eye ground chillis. I was also very generous with the tablespoon measurement. result - you can imagine! However, we were very poor and I had been brought up never to waste food, so froze it in ice cube trays and put one in each mince dish i used until I had used it all up!

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