Is Asian Chili Powder Different from Other Chili Powders? Good Questions

Is Asian Chili Powder Different from Other Chili Powders? Good Questions

Emma Christensen
Sep 21, 2010

Q: Chili powder shows up in a lot of Asian-inspired recipes. What exactly is it? Is it the same chili powder found in the spices aisle at the supermarket? Is it a specific pepper? Should I look for the image of a pepper on the packaging?

I picked up a chili powder spice from my local supermarket, but I suspect it's meant for making chili, the soup. Or is it the same thing? Please help clear up the confusion.

Sent by Ana

Editor: Our suspicion is that, yes, the chili powder you're seeing called for in the Asian recipes is different than the chili powder found in the spice aisle at most American grocery stores.

Take a look at the ingredients list on your spice jar. If it includes spices like cumin and oregano along with chilis, then it's a spice blend intended for southwestern and latin american dishes like chili stew and carne asada.

We think your best bet is to find an Asian grocery store in your area and seek out powdered or dried chilis there. We also often use crushed red pepper flakes or red chili paste in our Asian dishes for a spicy kick. For fresh spices, look for little thai chilis or dutch chilis.

Does anyone else have advice for Ana?

(Image: Emma Christensen)

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