Some people don’t enjoy the taste of spicy food and find eating it to be unpleasant. And while that is completely acceptable, it can make food taste relatively monotonous. But a chili does not have to be tongue-burning to achieve a rich flavor.
Thankfully, there are mild flavorings out there that can bring a subtle kick to any meal, enhance the appearance of any dish, and provide delicious unique flavor blends that’ll leave your mouth watering.
Yes, you guessed it, we’re talking about chili peppers. But not just any pepper – the Aleppo Pepper. These Syrian-origin peppers are quite mild and are most commonly found in examples of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.
In recent years, the Aleppo Pepper has become increasingly popular in countries such as the United States thanks to its versatility in the kitchen. But there is still a lot that people don’t know about this delightfully hot pepper.
So if you’re eager to learn more about the Aleppo Pepper, then we’ve got you and your taste buds covered!
Where Does The Aleppo Pepper Come From?
This pepper gets its name from its place of origin, the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, even though it is now commonly grown and consumed in Turkey.
Nowadays, the Aleppo-style pepper is widely used in other regions around the world, including throughout the United States. This is due to the challenges of growing, exporting, and sourcing anything from the war-torn region of Syria.
What Does The Aleppo Pepper Look Like?
The Aleppo pepper is similar in size and shape to the well-known jalapeño. They usually grow anywhere between two and three inches long and are characterized by their long, curved appearance. The tip of the Aleppo pepper is also far narrower than that of a jalapeño.
A good Aleppo pepper will be flaky, semi-oily, and will feature a rich burgundy color. It should smell fruity and bright, with a finish that is reminiscent of sun-dried tomatoes. As the Aleppo pepper ages, it matures to a vibrant, deep red color.
When growing, the pods ripen to a vibrant burgundy color. After they mature, the pods are plucked by their farmers, where they are typically semi-dried before being “de-seeded” and crushed or coarsely ground.
In addition, Aleppo peppers are rarely used before being turned into powder or flakes.
Scoville Scale Level
Compared to its counterparts, the Aleppo pepper provides a more moderate heat level. It measures in at a staggering 10,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale.
A jalapeño pepper usually measures in at approximately 5,000 Scoville Heat Units, meaning the Aleppo pepper is over twice as intense in terms of heat.
But the spice itself has half the heat – and twice the flavor – of the crushed chili flakes you may add to your favorite foods.
So if you’re looking for a pepper that marries a stunning (yet bearable) heat with earthier undertones and a slight fruit tang, and acts as an extreme flavor enhancer, then the Aleppo pepper is a perfect choice!
What Does The Aleppo Pepper Taste Like?
The Aleppo pepper features a taste that is far oilier than other chilies. It also has a more fruity raisin-like flavor aftertaste. Salt is frequently used in the traditional drying process for the Aleppo pepper and makes for another taste marker that you need to look out for.
Crushed Aleppo pepper, however, pairs a moderate heat level with stunning flavors. You get a fruitiness with elements of tomato, all brought together by a welcomed earthiness and a slight tang that gives this pepper its signature flavor.
What Is The Aleppo Pepper Used For?
A member of the nightshade family, the Aleppo pepper (also referred to as the Halaby pepper) is usually consumed in crushed and dried forms.
The Aleppo pepper is used in a variety of dishes belonging to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, although it has also become very popular around the world as a working alternative to crushed red pepper flakes or paprika.
This is because of its intense deep red color, aromatic flavors, and rich fruity undertone that sets it apart from other peppers.
All Mediterranean cuisine benefits from the addition of the Aleppo pepper because of its fragrance and its delightful spicy kick.
How To Use It
Aleppo pepper is used traditionally in a marinade to season chicken, as an extra bit of flavor in a salad dressing, in Muhammara dip, or even to rim a cocktail glass.
If you prefer plainer food, then the Aleppo pepper is also great as a colorful and tasty topping for potatoes and deviled eggs.
It is also a tasty addition to sauces, pizza, chili, grilled meats, pasta dishes, or anywhere you may normally choose to add paprika if you enjoy additional heat.
It is important to note that this pepper doesn’t produce the same tasting heat as typical crushed red pepper. This is because it is de-seeded and has the hotter parts removed before being crushed, making it suitable for even the most spice-averse individuals.
Interestingly, the Aleppo pepper is slightly oily and offers a milder heat level than other peppers.
With a raisin-like flavor and an increased level of saltiness, it is the perfect pepper to use in a large variety of recipes and offers an out-of-this-world taste profile that will leave you begging for more.
Why not sprinkle it on top of your favorite foods to give it an extra punchier taste?
There are various health benefits associated with consuming Aleppo-style peppers. Some of these include:
- The intense heat of this pepper helps with weight loss. When consumed, this spice induces sweat that burns calories quicker.
- Long-term consumption of a chili pepper will help to lower blood pressure over time.
- It boosts immunity. The Aleppo pepper features antioxidants such as vitamin C, which helps to increase immune functions and protects against infectious diseases.
Where To Buy It
The Syrian war has made purchasing Aleppo peppers almost impossible, as many spice growers have had to move their operations north and into Turkey. However, because the pepper is now grown elsewhere, you may be able to find it on the shelves of your favorite store.
If not, then seek out the closest Middle Eastern grocery store in proximity to you, and you’ll more than likely be able to purchase Aleppo (or Aleppo-style) pepper there.
How To Store It
Crushed Aleppo pepper should be kept in an airtight container, and stored in your pantry away from exposure to heat and direct sunlight. Spices tend to lose flavor far quicker when exposed to heat, so keeping your crushed Aleppo pepper away from the heat of the sun will ensure its longevity.
Additionally, the Aleppo pepper will keep for up to one week when stored whole and unwashed in the refrigerator.
The Aleppo Pepper comes with a milder heat level and is ideal for adding an intense kick to any of your favorite foods. You can add as much or as little as you want to achieve a specific flavor so that the taste doesn’t overwhelm you. Overall, if you enjoy well-seasoned food that offers a small heat kick, then this is the chili pepper for you.