Paprika a Complete Guide

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Paprika is one of the first spices that I became aware of at an early age; with fond memories of my mother's goulash and stroganoff dishes and later in my earliest days as a chef sprinkling it over the ubiquitous egg mayonnaise (we are talking over twenty years ago, incidentally)

Paprika Tin

Paprika is the ground red powder of the capsicum or sweet bell pepper of which there are varying types. It is the milder cousin of cayenne and chilli powder and one should not be substituted for the other. The best known and most widely used paprika is from Hungary and is often considered the best, it is noticeably different from Spanish paprika which is milder and better suited to spicing sausages such as the classic Chorizo and fish dishes, especially Hake, Squid and Octopus.

Smoked paprika has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years throughout the chef and restaurant world. It has an enjoyable, and unusual taste, which can become slightly addictive and should be used sparingly. It is especially good for flavouring an aioli or added to an olive tapenade in place of cayenne. Try using it as an alternative spice for a compound butter to use on grilled fish, vegetables and potatoes. For those who enjoy the tastes and smells of the Moroccan kitchen try combining it with ground cumin as a base for the wonderful chermoula sauce of the region.

Finally, use caution when buying paprika, as there is a lot of old and stale rubbish to be found. Good quality paprika will have a mild and sweet flavour with a deep red colour, buy in small amounts and be ruthless when clearing out old stock, dull, tasteless paprika is no good to anyone.

Content and picture Miles Collins