Ethnic flavor trends

Chili peppers are integral to many trending ethnic flavors. Pepper usage can vary, allowing for signature heat and flavor profiles.

Chamoy is a mash of flavors that combines the smoky heat of ancho chilies with apricot preserves, lime juice, salt and sugar. It often functions as a glaze on grilled pork chops where it caramelizes and delivers sweet heat.

Gochujang is gaining traction in meat and poultry. It is a combination of chili peppers and fermented soybeans and starts out sweet to the palate. Depending on the peppers, the degree of lingering heat varies, but should always be there.

Harissa possesses notes of chili, coriander and cumin. It typically has low levels of heat, but does not need to. It is used in a variety of Middle Eastern dishes, namely goat and lamb entrees.

Piri Piri (also known as peri peri) seasoning is based on the piri piri pepper. Piri translates as hot, which makes sense, as this chili pepper measures at about 175,000 SHU. With its origins in Portugal, piri piri sauce contains the namesake peppers along with citrus peel, onion, pepper, salt, lemon juice, bay leaves, paprika, pimiento, basil, oregano and tarragon.

Szechwan as a cooking style has been around for a long time, with many Chinese restaurants marketed as Szechwan-style to convey a spicier type of menu. Szechwan seasoning is known for intense spiciness and bold flavor, and tends to be heavily pronounced in garlic. It works well with beef, chicken and pork.

An up-and-coming chili is urfa, also known as Turkish chili. It has a rich raisin and chocolate taste with notes of tobacco and wine and about 50,000 SHU of heat. Lamb and beef kebobs are a common application, as well as venison chops and other game meats.

Depending on the chili pepper, as well as the application, heat may linger on the palate. Because capsaicin is nearly insoluble in water, drinking a glass of water after consuming chili peppers does not reduce that feeling of the mouth being on fire. On the other hand, capsaicin is soluble in fat and alcohol, which is why a cold beer and some blue cheese dressing often accompanies a plate of hot wings.

Further, when you pair sweetness with peppers, even the hottest peppers often become palatable. This is why the combination of habanero mango has become so popular. The habanero pepper is quite flavorful, if you can get over the heat. Adding a dimension of sweetness helps accentuate the citrus notes of the pepper while the sulfurous notes of the mango play out.