If you’ve ever eaten real Spanish chorizo (not the Mexican variety), lomo de cerdo (the delightful dry-smoked pork loin that is both chewy and melt in the mouth) or an authentic Galician caldo stew, you’ll already know why pimenton is considered one of the gods of spices.
Hailing originally from a monastery in Caceres, on Spain’s southwestern border with Portugal, Pimenton de la Vera (as it’s full name is known) is smoked and powdered red chillis – the sort first brought to Spain in the days of Columbus.
Now cultivated in Spain, the chillis are harvested and then slow roasted over oak wood logs. Pimenton is available in bittersweet, hot and sweet varieties but all have a distinctive smoky flavour that is most reminiscent of Mexico’s chipotle chilli peppers (though not nearly as intense).
Pimenton can be added to soups and broths, used as a preservative and flavouring (as it is in chorizo and lomo) or added to any tomato and onion-based sauce or latin-style sofrito to introduce a smoked quality to the flavour.
Feel like experimenting?
Add a pinch to dishes like ratatouille or even a pappa pomodoro and instill some Mediterranean fusion to these most traditional dishes.