The Fiery Ingredient Yotam Ottolenghi Adds To Scrambled Eggs

When it comes to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, Yotam Ottolenghi is the undisputed GOAT — but his style of food draws on influences from all around the world, mainly through the use of diverse ingredients and cooking methods. From his curry leaf carrots and West African-spiced chicken to his gingery soba noodles and his love for Indian cilantro mint chutney, Ottolenghi has a unique ability to marry flavors from far ends of the world on one plate, even if the final dish isn't necessarily Middle Eastern.

With an expansive collection of recipes gracing the covers of magazines, newspaper columns, award-winning cookbooks, and restaurant menus, Ottolenghi's experience living in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem has inspired his culinary career since he started some 20 years ago. While there, he drew inspiration from the fresh markets and the combination of cultures, developing them into a culinary landscape that's all his own. To this day, the majority of Ottolenghi's recipes embrace a mixture of diverse cooking methods, fresh produce, and flavorful condiments that make his recipes geographically indistinguishable.

In this way, Ottolenghi can take virtually any food and make it brand new — even something as ordinary as your scrambled eggs. For those, he has one fiery ingredient he leans on, and it comes from Istanbul, of all places.

Biber salçası red pepper paste

In an interview with Condé Nast Traveller, Yotam Ottolenghi and a bunch of other chefs shared some of the top items on their shopping lists, and his response was nothing short of what you'd expect. Among things like a brûlée tart from Sydney, blue fenugreek from Georgia, sausage rolls from London, méchoui from Marrakech, and croissants from Melbourne, was a red chili paste from Istanbul — one he specifically enjoys scrambling with his eggs.

"You can be pretty liberal with this chili paste. It's not as spicy as harissa but is way more punchy than passata. It's a real cheat ingredient and is brilliant just stirred through scrambled eggs," Ottolenghi said. So, what's the chili paste, you might ask? It's called biber salçası, and it is, in fact, Turkish. Ottolenghi stocks up on it every time he's in Istanbul, at the Egyptian Bazaar / Mısır Çarşısı in the Eminönü quarter, and he advises all of you to do too.

Made from a blend of either hot or mild sun-dried sweet peppers, Ottolenghi's on-brand comparison between Italian tomato passata and North African harissa sounds pretty on the nose. We're assuming he's referring to tatlı biber salçası and not acı biber salçası, given the latter can reach a Scoville level of up to 8100. Jars of it can be purchased from online retailers like Turkish Food Basket for as little as $8.

An essential emblem of Turkish cuisine, biber salçası is known to elevate the simplest of foods — just as it does for Ottolenghi's morning scramble and, hopefully, your next.