The Calabrian chili is a versatile Italian pepper with a rich red color, fruity flavor and a nice level of heat for spicy food lovers. Learn more about them from Chili Pepper Madness.
Scoville Heat Units: 25,000 to 40,000 SHU
Whether it's our lives or our food, we are always looking for something to spice things up. If you have ventured out into the world of fiery chilis, you already know how a new, smoking hot pepper can make every other bite of your meal more exciting than the last. If you are still new to the playing field, the Calabrian Chili is a great place to get started.
It's important to have a good, reliable chili you can rely on to add both heat and flavor to your masterpiece without overwhelming the senses. One of the most trusted and widely used chilis in this regard is the renowned Calabrian Chili.
What Is Calabrian Chili?
The Calabrian Chili is a pepper commonly used in Italian cuisine. The Calabrian pepper is a remarkable combination of fruity, spicy, and salty that leaves a lasting impression on your tongue. Its versatility as an ingredient makes it a very handy pepper indeed.
Calabrian Chilis can be purchased from your local supermarket or you can search for them online. You will find great variety in the way these peppers are prepared and sold; fresh, dried, pickled, stuffed - you name it. You can even get them packaged in a jar if you would like to preserve them for a longer period of time.
What Does A Calabrian Chili Look Like?
A rusty, dark red in color, Calabrian peppers grow on overarching vines. They are left hanging until they are mature, aged to ensure a fruitier, tangier flavor, as well as a more intense spice. They are relatively small and are shaped like a typical chili with a conical, elongated body originating from the stalk of the plant. When dried, the skin of the Calabrian Chili becomes wrinkled and crunchy.
Where Did Calabrian Chili Come From?
The Calabrian Chili gets its name from the region where it was originally grown and harvested. Calabria in Italy gave birth to this delicious and colorful pepper which has now become a prominent presence in Italian cooking and beyond.
While Calabria produces a number of other chilis, the Calabrian Chili is the region’s signature pepper. While it provides a decent amount of heat, it does not overpower the underlying flavors. It is used in high culinary settings like five-star restaurants, as well as in regular, warm, home-cooked meals alike.
What Does Calabrian Chili Taste Like?
In terms of the spice level of the Calabrian Chili, it ranges between 25,000 and 40,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville Scale, making them somewhat medium heat compared to some of the others out there, which is why they are often eaten on their own. They produce a fruity and refreshing taste on the palate and pair well with most meals and dishes.
When blended and cooked with other ingredients to make sauces and curries, the Calabrian Chili imparts a gorgeous red color and produces an amazing, fruity aroma that adds to the flavor of the dish. The chilies themselves have a fruity and smoky taste, and fill your mouth with a wonderful warmth that accentuates the flavors of your meal. This characteristic makes Calabrian peppers the perfect layering for sauces and condiments.
What Is Calabrian Chili Used For?
The Calabrian Chili is a staple in authentic Italian cooking. It is used across the board in all kinds of pizza, pasta sauces and pasta dishes to add flavor and spice. It is also a great addition to simple foods like sandwiches and salads to make things more interesting flavor-wise.
Its use is common in breakfast items like omelets and frittatas, and it also pairs well with the likes of cheese and chocolate for some light snacking. You will find the Calabrian Chili to be a frequent presence of the ingredients label on most condiment jars across Calabria and the surrounding regions.
Other times, the peppers are infused into olive oil or blended with sauces for concentrated sides and additions to all kinds of dishes. They are frequently combined with oils and vinegar to balance out the heat and maximize the flavor, like this Calabrian chili paste.
You can do this yourself if you have some dried Calabrian Chilis at hand that you can grind up into flakes.
Overall, the taste of the Calabrian pepper is versatile. The flavor persists throughout and beyond the heat of the pepper which makes it a great addition to most dishes and cuisines.
It is popularly used to make Nduja, a delicious spreadable Italian salami meat paste.
Do not be afraid to experiment with this chili in your style of cooking as you may end up discovering a combination that is completely new and absolutely delicious.
What Is A Calabrian Chili Substitute?
Calabrian Chilis have a distinct salty and smoky flavor, which makes it difficult to substitute them in recipes that specifically call for them. If you do not have access to the chilies, you can try looking for Calabrian Hot Chili Oil. If you wish to replace it with another type of chili, consider Serrano peppers, Fresno chilies, or simply use crushed red pepper flakes.