If You’ve Yet to Taste Urfa Biber, This Would be a Good Place to Start.
Oranges and carrots are a classic combination for a reason. They perfectly compliment each other, so you really don’t need much embellishment. I first made my dressing by cooking a combination of fresh orange juice and maple syrup until it had achieved a syrupy consistency and then putting it aside to cool. I then decided this would be a good place to showcase one of my favorite spices, urfa biber.
For those unfamiliar with this pepper, it originates in Turkey and is unique in its flavor profile. Sweet, tart, smokey, and salty – I’ve never encountered any other pepper with this complexity of flavor. Deep burgundy in color, the texture is also interesting. These peppers are not completely dried before being ground. As I understand it, during the drying process, they are left out in the sun all day, but then covered at night which preserves some of the natural oils in the skins. So, when they are ground they retain a little moisture and the flakes have a slightly oily feel.
This makes it perfect to use as a finishing spice, but I also cook with it extensively. I don’t think I’ve ever found a pepper that blends so well with so many different flavors. I mix it with cumin for spice rubs, add it to curries, Middle Eastern dips and marinades, etc. Whenever I think a dish tastes a little flat and needs a hit of something to perk it up, I add some urfa biber. Whereas I use sumac when the flavor only needs a spark of tartness, urfa biber adds more complexity.
This salad ended up being so much more than a simple orange and carrot salad. It’s overall flavor was greatly enhanced by the pepper and it made for a surprising and delicious addition to my retinue of orange salads, of which I am extremely fond.
Urfa biber can be found in Middle Eastern markets and is easily located online from multiple sources.