Paprika is the dried form of certain species of red peppers that are generally sweet and mild in nature. Popular uses include garnishes and rubs or marinades. It may be best known worldwide as the main ingredient in Hungarian goulash. Paprika is also combined with a variety of commercially-prepared foods, including sausages and cheese, to provide red coloration.
The spice originated in South America, but is now produced around the world. Brands produced in the United States are generally the least flavorful.
In Portugal, the pepper is known as pimentón, which is appropriate as this variety is used to produce the pimientos you find in olives or pickled in jars.
Spanish paprika is best recognized for its mild sweet quality while Hungarian paprika provides the strongest bite. The differences in flavor from common paprika are remarkable. If you have not tried these two, you may think paprika is merely a bland garnish.
Smoked paprika, which imparts a wonderful woodsy aroma, hails specifically from La Vera, Spain. It is available as sweet, bittersweet, and hot.
Paprika will range in color from brown to yellow to bright red. Depending on availability, flavor choices will include mild, sweet and semisweet, delicatess, rose, and fiery hot.
Buy in small quantities unless you are a frequent user. It may keep as long as eight months on a dark, cool shelf and is usable after that for color. However, fading will occur if kept in a clear glass container or exposed to sunlight.
It is an essential spice for many ethnic cuisines, including Indian, Spanish, Turkish, and Portuguese. The flavor of good paprika will only be evident after it is heated. This spice has a high sugar content, however, and will burn if overcooked.
Paprika adds color as a garnish to such foods as:
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