Are you ready to make your own red-hot chile paste?
Yes, you can buy Korean gochujang (thick and sweet) or various Chinese/Thai kind (hot and hot) at your various markets, but if you want to feel really industrious and sort of “back-to-the-land” you can try this quick version.
This homemade pepper paste is just the right amount of kick-in-the-head that makes your kimchi happy-go-lucky. I like to use Mexican chile peppers for this recipe. ** I want to take a minute to mention that if you would rather use red pepper powder instead of making paste, go ahead and grind up the peppers in a spice grinder and toss over cut up cabbage with the other ingredients listed in the kimchi posting (March 1, 2012 post) to make an even more convenient kimchi.
But I think making a chile paste is a good idea as you can use it in your other recipes that require heat.
5 ozs dried red-hot peppers (A word about dried peppers: using a combination of New Mexico and chile de arbol which will give you a paste that is both tongue-burning spicy and smoky in flavor. The arbol chiles give you the heat while the New Mexico chiles adds a depth of flavor.) Yield: about 2 cups.
1. Put your chiles in a big bowl. Pour boiling water over the chiles and cover with a big pot lid or plastic wrap if you don’t have such lid. Let steep for 15-20 minutes. (Keep the water for blending.)
2. When peppers have softened, you’re ready to blend them up. (Now is the time to decide if you want to keep or ditch the seeds. I’ve read that a large portion of a chile pepper’s heat is found in their inner membrane with the seeds contributing a smaller proportion, so the decision to keep the seeds in your paste might be more dependent on texture rather than concern of added heat.) PLEASE PUT ON GLOVES or use tongs when handling your peppers. Pull off the stems before placing them in the blender. Pour in about 1/8 cup of the pepper water to begin, set your blender on low and grind or grate (my old Oster model from the ’70’s has these settings, but go ahead and use puree if yours doesn’t) until peppers have formed a paste. Keep adding your water in small increments, about a tablespoon at a time, as you go along and stop when you have the texture you want. This way you can ensure your paste isn’t too watery.
3. Store your paste in a nice clean glass jar (I like Ball 12 oz jars, but your recycled jam or peanut butter jar is great too). Refrigerate.