Red pepper flakes (Recipe: stir-fried corn and red pepper with ginger and garlic)
On my spice rack, two pint-size mason jars filled with red pepper flakes sit side by side on a shelf.
One jar contains mild flakes, the other hot. They look identical, so I'm glad I remembered to label the top of the jars!
Red pepper flakes are a staple here in Pizza World (also known as Rhode Island, the most Italian state in the country), where a shaker jar sits on the table of every pizzeria.
In my kitchen, they're a staple, too, thanks to their long shelf life. And while I have many types of hot sauce and chili pastes in the pantry, red pepper flakes contribute heat, and only heat, without adding vinegar and salt where you don't want them.
What are red pepper flakes?
Hot peppers (a mix of cayenne, New Mexico, etc.) that have been roasted and then crushed. You can make your own at home. The percentage of seeds in the mix accounts for the heat of the blend.
How/where to store:
In a cool, dry part of your pantry, in an airtight container, for up to one year.
More facts about red pepper flakes, and ingredient photos, in The Perfect Pantry:
Red pepper flakes (Recipe: pasta puttanesca)
Stir-fried corn and red pepper with ginger and garlic
When corn is in season, as it is right now in New England, you don't want to do too much to it. This recipe is perfect for corn snobs like me; use corn picked the same day, for best flavor. In a pinch, you can substitute defrosted flash-frozen organic corn. Adapted from Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, by Grace Young, this recipe serves 4 as a side dish.
1 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
1 thin slice of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp minced jalapeño pepper, or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (mild or hot)
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 ears of corn, kernels scraped off the cob
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp sugar
Heat a large flat-bottomed wok or skillet over high heat, until a bead of water vaporizes with seconds of contact. Swirl the oil in the pan, and add the ginger, garlic, and jalapeño or pepper flakes, and stir-fry 10 seconds. Add the bell peppers and corn. Sprinkle on the salt and sugar, and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until the bell peppers and corn are just heated through but still crunchy.
Other recipes that use red pepper flakes:
Red pepper soup, from Smitten Kitchen
Spicy grilled eggplant with red pepper, parsley and mint, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Pizza with shrimp and red pepper pesto, from Macheesmo
Orange and chili pepper ricotta cheese cake, from Kitchen Unplugged
Roasted red pepper and walnut salsa, from Cowgirl Chef