Getting the Flavor Just Right When Using Peppers in Asian BBQ

You know how it is when you go to your favorite restaurant and have a wonderful meal and then you go home and try to recreate it.  But the flavor is just not right.  Something is missing.  That something can be as subtle as not using the right pepper, especially if we are talking about Asian, Mongolian, Chinese or Korean BBQ.

There is a difference in the peppers that are used in the Asian, Thai, Korean and Vietnamese foods.  Different areas of the world grow different types of peppers and they of course have distinct flavors.  If you are trying to recreate a dish that you have enjoyed, make sure that you are selecting peppers from the region of the dish.  Korean BBQ uses mainly Korean red pepper paste as its base and this derived from dried red peppers can have a good kick to it.  Also served with your BBQ are green peppers similar to jalapeños that you can slice and add to your food.

Asian BBQ is a bit milder in heat as they usually only use red pepper flakes that we can purchase in the spice aisle.   Chinese BBQ sauce is known as Hoisin and it is a spicy, slightly sweet sauce that is used in all types of stir fry.  This too only uses red pepper flake to give it the kick and it is brushed on pork, beef, chicken and other barbecued foods during cooking.

Regionally there are differences in Asian use of pepper too. Dried peppers are frequently used in Szechuan dishes, while fresh peppers are used mainly in province of Hunan.  The pepper is called the XI’AN chile pepper and you may need to hunt down an Asian market if your grocery store does not have a large fresh pepper section.

Mongolian BBQ is a misnomer actually as the food is actually stir fried on giant grills. The spice is added in the form of sauces while it is sitr fried.  Hot Chili oil made with red pepper flake or blended chili’s is a favorite and it can really spice it up quick.

Vietnamese BBQ is not usually very spicy as they use pork for this but regionally they do use a Thai or Serrano chile peppers for heat. You may also see jalapeno pepper, Anaheim chile peppers or red jalapenos used as well in the marinate recipes.  Delicious!

Next time you are looking for a different kind of BBQ, try something unexpected but delicious and give the Asian BBQ and some Thai or Chinese chili’s a try!

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