Biber Salçası is a Turkish chili paste made with either hot or milder sweet peppers that are sun dried then crushed into a complex and smoky paste, essential for Turkish cuisine. Learn more about it.
Turkish cuisine is known for being a melting pot of several different traditions, cultures, and tastes considering its history and geographical location. As a whole, their dishes are revered for their incredible aromatic flavors and use of spices and herbs to elevate even the most simplistic of foods.
While most Turkish cuisine does not go all out on the heat level, it very frequently incorporates something known as Biber Salçasi.
Let’s explore what Biber Salçasi is and how it can be used.
What is Biber Salçasi?
The literal translation of the term ‘Biber Salçasi’ is ‘pepper paste’. This makes it easier to understand what this spicy entity actually is. Made from a combination of crushed red chili peppers or sweet long peppers with salt, this is a thick, deep red chili paste that has a delicious, complex flavor.
The peppers are dried under the sun for several days before they are crushed and turned into a paste. This lends it a unique smoky flavor and paste-like consistency that is perfect for many different kinds of dishes.
Is Biber Salçasi Spicy?
There are typically two different kinds of Biber Salçasi available for purchase. One is the Aci Biber Salçasi, which is made with red hot chili peppers. And the other is Tatli Biber Salçasi, which is made from sweet red peppers. The former variety is spicier than the latter and can go up to 8100 Scoville Heat Units on the scale.
How to Use Biber Salçasi?
If you are Turkish or are a fan of Turkish cuisine, then Biber Salçasi is a must to have in your pantry. Biber Salçasi is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used across the board for a variety of purposes. For example, it can be used to add some spice to the likes of stews and sauces, as well as used as fillings for dishes like pide and borek.
In fact, Biber Salçasi is a prominent feature in Anatolia cuisine. Apart from adding to food while it is cooking, Biber Salçasi can also be consumed as a condiment- such as a spread for crackers and bread.
Where to Buy Biber Salçasi?
Biber Salçasi is available very easily in the Middle Eastern region. It may be a bit harder to find in other places and grocery stores. If it is not available in your area, you can always find some online.
- Buy Biber Salcasi at Amazon (affiliate link, my friends!)
How to Make Biber Salçasi
In case you are unable to find some good, authentic Biber Salçasi in your area, you can absolutely try your hand at making some of your very own at home. In fact, homemade Biber Salçasi has a very earthy and organic taste that brings out a smoky, spicy flavor in your dishes.
Here is how to make some delicious Biber Salçası at home.
- Take some red peppers and char them over a low flame for a few minutes.
- Remove their stems and seeds.
- Cook the peppers in boiling water.
- Crush the peppers up into a coarse paste and add salt.
- Keep the crushed peppers under the sun for 6-8 days to dry them up, or use a dehydrator, which is more fool proof. Or, you can place the mixture in the oven for 24 hours at 90F.
- Once it develops the typical paste like consistency, save it in a jar.
What is a Substitute for Biber Salçasi?
If you need a quick fix and you do not have any Biber Salçasi, then you can use a substitute in its place. Which substitute you use depends on what purpose you were going to use the Biber Salçasi for in the first place.
For example, if you were using it for the heat level, then you can simply use red peppers. On the other hand, if the texture of the paste is just as important for your dish, then you can process the red peppers with some fresh tomatoes to create a paste like consistency.
How much water is used to boil peppers once charred and stems/ seeds have been removed? How long for? Do you crush the peppers with the water once cooked or drain it first? Thank you
Mike Hultquist says
Stacey, use just enough water to cover them, and boil only a few minutes. Process it altogether, then you can dry it to your preference.