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Red pepper flakes (Recipe: stir-fried corn and red pepper with ginger and garlic) {vegan, gluten-free}

Stir fried corn and red pepper with ginger

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 

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.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Penne with roasted red pepper pesto
Cheese and red pepper empanaditas
Salmon croquettes with sesame-lime sauce
Laotian chicken and herb salad
Cucumber ribbon salad

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

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Can't live without my red pepper flakes. They go in everything!

Lydia -- great info on chili flakes. Most of what you say seems obvious in hindsight, but appreciate you spelling it out... I didn't really think about adding chili flakes instead of chili paste to get the heat without the other flavorings... or the heat coming from the seeds...

Love pepper flakes. We keep a stash on hand in our pantry because they are great for just about anything.

what if you mix up the covers to the jar! :-)

I want to get that stir-fry book; you keep having recipes from it that look good! Corn is something I eat rarely, but in the summer when it's fresh from the garden it's hard to resist!

i love my corn relish so much that i tend to eat it every week. So this is also a dish i would devour err enjoy.

Looks so fresh and good, yet so simple to prepare! Lovely.

Pam, Andrea: same here! It's my secret ingredient.

Julia, hot sauce is great, but not every dish wants the added vinegar. Of course that doesn't explain why I have so many varieties of hot peppers...

Carol, I think I might blow some heads off if the hot pepper got used by mistake!

Kalyn, what I love about this book is that it's both very Chinese, and quite cross-cultural (like this corn and red pepper recipe). I'm a huge fan of Grace Young's books.

Vanillasugar, this is the perfect dish for corn season -- something a bit different, but still needing the sweet flavor of the corn.

Fotografiafoodie, it's all that, fresh and delicious. I hope you try it.

This recipe looks and "reads" so well, especially from a damp New Zealand winter. Thank you for the information on pepper flakes - confirmation for me that they are what is sold here as chilli flakes. Enjoy all the summer produce available to you right now - especially that glorious looking fresh sweet-corn. This dish is definately sunshine on a plate!

We call them crushed chilis, and keep the jar on the table at all times. That's what my husband's NJ upbringing did.

Michelle, when we are pining for fresh corn and tomatoes in the middle of winter, you will be in the peak of vegetable season -- so I know just how you feel.

Susan, yes, New Jersey is big on "pizza pepper", too!

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