If I could only live with three seasonings, it would be salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Placed in a shaker on the table at most pizzeria joints, red pepper flakes can be found in a variety of cuisines including Thai, Mexican, Caribbean, Italian, and Chinese. A few sprinkles of these chile flakes add heat to stir-fry, casseroles, tacos, and cheesy slices of pizza.
What Are Crushed Red Pepper Flakes?
This spice is actually a mixture of various red chile peppers from the capsicum annum family including a majority of cayenne pepper followed by jalapeno, anaheim, bell peppers, and Thai peppers. The spiciness is mild, more so adding another note or zing to the flavor profile of a dish. According to Savory Spice, "These chiles are about a 3 to 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10 and add a pleasant note of heat to any dish." In Scoville heat units it is 30,000 to 50,000. The seeds add a bit of a bite!
This is not to be confused with some jars of pepper flakes that can be made out of one kind of pepper, such as Arbol, chipotle, or ancho chile.
Where to Buy Red Pepper Flakes
Sure, you can get them at your grocery store from McCormick, but I always try to support local businesses as much as I can. Spicewalla, which was founded by five-time James Beard Award-nominated chef Meherwan Irani. They currently run their spice business in Asheville, North Carolina, where he also manages Chai Pani, Buxton Hall, Buxton Chicken Palace, and Nani's Rotisserie Chicken. He also has restaurant locations in Georgia.
Along with crushed red pepper, Spicewalla sells chili powders of a wide variety of hot peppers. Be sure to check out the Espelette pepper flakes if you love smoke and heat.
How To Make Your Own Chili Flakes
While you can you a dehydrator for this process, a low-oven works as well. This recipe is great if you have a lot of peppers in the garden that need to be used it. You'll need about 50 peppers to make 1 cup of this spice.
First, cut the tops off the peppers and lay them evenly on a cooking sheet. On low heat, dry the chilies for 4-5 hours, making sure they do not burn. Once dried, place in a grinder or food processer or grind until flaked. Store in airtight containers or jars.
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