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How Hot Peppers are Used in Different Cuisine

How Hot Peppers are Used in Different Cuisines
Hot Hot Peppers are Used in Different Cuisines

Hot peppers help add a kick of flavor to otherwise bland dishes. You can add hot peppers to pretty much any food you want, but some cuisines take advantage of hot peppers a lot more than others. If you love spicy food, take a look at these cuisines from around the world and how they integrate chilies to take dishes from basic to mind-blowing.

Indian Food

Indian food has become known for adding spicy heat with curries to dishes. The green finger chili is the most commonly used pepper in Indian meals. When breaded and fried, these peppers make the perfect appetizer! 

Some of the best spice mixtures come from India. One of these is Masala, which is a combination of dried chilies, cumin, coriander, and other spices. Southern India, known for spicy meatless dishes like Mysore Masala Dosa, a crepe filled with yummy spicy Masala.

Indian Cuisine: Mysore Masala Dosa
Indian Cuisine: Mysore Masala Dosa

India pickles the hottest chilies with oil and spices, and later added to dishes. The result is a delightfully spicy and flavorful relish. This is different from places like the United States that pickle mild peppers.

Mexican Food

Spicy Mexican food is so much more than tacos and burritos. It’s mouth-watering mole sauce, the burning chicken soup Chilato de Pollo, and more! The list of hot peppers are used in different cuisines is vital to Mexican food is long but some of the most essential ones include the Puya, Chipotle, and Serrano

Mexican Cuisine: Chilato de Pollo
Mexican Cuisine: Chilato de Pollo

If you want to make your Mexican food even hotter, you have a lot of options thanks to Mexican hot sauces like Tapatio, Valentina, and El Yucateco. Mexico also makes some of the most delicious salsas, from salsa verde to smoky chipotle and more!

Korean Food

Koreans love their spicy food. Eating food that’s both hot and spicy helps counter the long, bitter-cold winters. Green chilies are often used and sometimes pickled, which is known as Gochu-jangajji. 

There might not be any food that’s more classically Korean than kimchi. Kimchi is known for its vinegary taste and packed with heat from crushed red chilies. Kimchi can be added to traditional recipes making meals spicier. Other Korean recipes become hotter with the addition of red chili paste.

Kimchi makes a great side for Korean BBQ, which can also be spicy. Some classic Korean BBQ rubs contain Korean Gochugaru peppers as well as other spices.

Korean: Kimchi
Korean: Kimchi

The wonderful spicy condiment gochujang also comes from Korea. Gochujang used like a hot sauce, usually contains Korean chili powder, fermented soybeans, and salt. It’s extremely potent and can significantly increase the spiciness in any dish.

Southern Italian and Sicilian Food

When you’re thinking of spicy food, Italy isn’t probably the first place that comes to mind. Southern Italy has become known to produce some pretty fiery dishes, becoming global favorites. Calabrian-style marinara sauce, which contains usually contains the Calabrian pepper is extremely popular in Southern Italy. It’s one of the hottest and best ways to enjoy pasta.

Italians love their pork sausages and dried salamis. Although these items can be sweet and salty, they can also be very spicy. If you’re trying one of these Italian meats for the first time and you see red flecks, we’re pre-warning you: very soon your mouth may be burning.

Sautéed long green chilies are another way Italians bring the heat. This is a common side dish that can get scary hot.

Japanese Food

The best spicy Japanese food is ramen, especially spicy miso ramen. Many ramen parlors will also provide piping hot chili oil (from China) to add even more spice to this classic favorite. Hot peppers and spicy oils are used in many popular Japanese dishes.

A favorite Japanese condiment is shichimi, which contains dried cayenne and sansho. The island of Okinawa produces Koregusu, which is a potent hot sauce containing awamori (alcohol) and small island chili peppers. It goes great on stir-fries, soba noodles, and more!

Japanese cuisine is popular for shishito peppers. Although they aren’t the hottest peppers, they certainly add a kick to every dish you put them in. 

Ethiopian Food

The best spicy Ethiopian dishes contain berbere. This special spice blend contains powdered red chilies as well as garlic and other spices. It goes into stews like Doro wat and an Ethiopian beef tartare called kitfo.

Ethiopian Cuisine: Doro wat
Ethiopian Cuisine: Doro wat

Ethiopian breakfasts are even spicy, with a variety of hot pepper cuisines! The Ethiopian dish fit-fit (also called fir-fir) is commonly made with shredded pieces of flatbread, spicy clarified butter, and berbere. Eating that first thing in the morning will definitely wake you up!

The country also grows Ethiopian Brown Chile Peppers. If you’re outside of Ethiopia, you’ll usually find these peppers dried or in spice form. 

Chinese Food

In China, Sichuan dishes are created with a blend of spicy ingredients. The fresh green chilies, dried red chilies, Sichuan peppercorns, and red chili oil combine to make so many delightfully spicy foods. One classic spicy Chinese dish is Mapo Tofu. An essential component of Mapo Tofu is doubanjiang, a spicy paste made from dried red chilies.

Kung pao chicken is another classic Chinese dish, and it contains dried red chilies. However, it’s usually on the milder side of the spicy spectrum.

Chinese Cuisine: Kung Pao Chicken
Chinese Cuisine: Kung Pao Chicken

Chinese Hunan cuisine is even spicier than Sichuan food. It relies on a combo of fresh green chilies, pickled chilies, and dried red chilies for its heat. Another popular Chinese dish is the braised pork with chestnuts, spicy red chilies, and chili oil.

Peruvian Food

In Peru, many meals are packed with bold, spicy flavors centered around the ají pepper (pronounced ah-hee). This pepper is supposedly named after the sound you make when screaming from the heat. These peppers can be yellow, orange, or fiery red. Peru makes delicious, spicy sauces that are commonly available to purchase within the grocery stores in South America.

The ají chili takes center stage in Peru’s national dish the ají de gallina, which a stew made with chicken and flavored with ají and walnuts. Ají, is known to take many Peruvian ceviches to new levels of spiciness!

Peruvian Cuisine: ají de gallina
Peruvian Cuisine: ají de gallina

Make Your Signature Dish Even Better with Hot Peppers

Each of these countries can offer so much spicy inspiration to your favorite recipes! Hot peppers are used in different cuisines that have been shared traditions around the world. Why not use hot peppers to elevate your favorite dish? Whether you’re making food from one of these cuisines or something else, chilies can make food more interesting.

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