This month’s Spice Guide sure is a spicy one – cayenne pepper! Come learn more about where it’s from, how to use it & what to pair it with. I’d love to hear about how you use it in your kitchen too!
History of Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne is a red pepper that originated in French Guiana and then spread by Spanish explorers in the 15th and 16th Century. It’s also known as Guinea spice or red pepper and is related to bell peppers, jalapenos and paprika.
It is most commonly used in powder form, but can also be found as flakes, whole fresh or dried chillies and even an oil.
Cayenne Pepper’s Flavour Profile
The key element cayenne pepper brings to dishes is heat. It’s generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units (for reference, jalapenos are generally rated at 3,500 to 10,000 units and habaneros at 100,000 to 350,000 units).
It doesn’t have a dominant flavour of its own, making it an excellent addition to dishes where you want heat but not overpowering flavour. Start with a very small amount – 1/8th – 1/4 teaspoon in a stew for example, and build from there to avoid spice overload!
Cayenne Pepper is widely used in all kinds of cuisines, including Mexican, Korean, Sichaun, Indian, Italian, Middle Eastern and Southern-American cooking. It’s a common ingredient in hot sauces, dry rubs, salsas and both meat and vegetarian chilies.
It really pairs well with all meats and vegetables, as well as eggs, cheese, pulses and can be used in everything from soups to sauces, rice dishes and pastas. It even goes well with chocolate and coffee!
Common Spice Pairings
As it doesn’t have a whole heap of flavour on it’s own, cayenne pepper can really be paired with pretty much any spices. So of the most common pairings though include:
For a slightly different way to use cayenne pepper, try it as a homemade popcorn topper!
Pop your popcorn your favourite way (I do it on the stovetop) then sprinkle with a combination of:
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1tsp fine salt
- 1tsp paprika
- 1/2tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)