When I saw a bag of it at Arax Market in Watertown, I knew I had to give it a try. I gave part of my supply to a cooking friend so we could both play with it and compare notes. "They are simultaneously bitter like coffee or chocolate and sweet like molasses, and they lend a wonderful, deep, smoky aroma to sauces," Chef Sortum writes.
It looks a bit like rich, oily coffee grounds with a rusty red tint. It is an afterburner chili giving you a mild introduction with a kick on the finish. It is wonderful with eggplant. A spinkle will add a lift to a tray of roasted root vegetables. And, I added a dash to some leftover pork for a second night supper.
In Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chef Sortum features Urfa as one of her favorite chili peppers, along with Aleppo pepper and paprika.
Notice that my work board is protected with a piece of parchment and my Urfa is in a glass jar. This is a spice, like tumeric, that could be used as a dye. It will stain your counter, clothing, or hands. It even left stains on a small aluminum scoop I was using with it. And the natural scallop shell in the first photo now has an orangy interior. Use it with this caution in mind.
If you try Urfa pepper, be sure to let us know how you like it and what recipes you explored.
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Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino
Photos: ©2013 Penny & Ed Cherubino
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