Three is this rather famous red pepper paste in Portugal called Massa de Pimentão. Have you had it? It’s kind of sweet, and a little salty, and intensely peppery. It’s not peppery in a hot pepper way, but in a sweet red bell pepper kind of way. I’m going to show you how to make it.
The End of Summer
Before we dive into the Massa de Pimentão I’m going to tell you about my weekend a little bit. Last weekend was the last weekend of summer. I spent the weekend with my friends Lisa and Rich, whom I recently (as in last week) married dressed as Abraham Lincoln. Yes, that’s right. Abraham Lincoln. It’s a long story.
Anyway, this is a good case in point of cooking my own food from my own food blog! Rich’s family has a house in Gearhart, Oregon, which is super cozy. It’s just a few blocks from the beach, which, in Oregon at this time of the year, is cool, and cloudy, and dramatic. It’s a great place to relax, play cards and board games, and generally just chill out.
Halibut and Puttanesca
I made a version of this halibut dish–with some variation of course. And I also made Shrimp Puttanesca as an appetizer course, into which I mixed a bit of Massa de Pimentão. Yes. Everything comes full circle.
I grilled the halibut outside on your classic Weber grill, which I’d never done before. It’s a bit hairy worrying you might incinerate $45 of prime fish, but it worked out well in the end. The grill adds a lot of flavor. I’m now a fan of this fish on the grill business.
How to Make Massa de Pimentão (Portuguese Red Pepper Paste)
It’s so ridiculously easy to make Massa de Pimentão that it hardly merits a formal recipe. You cut red bell peppers into strips, then salt them heavily and let them sit over night. Through the magic power of osmosis (you may remember this from biology class), the salt draws a lot of moisture out of the peppers.
You then rinse all the salt off and lightly roast the peppers to soften them and to loosen the skin so you can peel them.
After that you simply puree them with some garlic and big glug of extra virgin olive oil. And there you have it: Massa de Pimentão.
How to Use Massa de Pimentão
Massa de pimentão.is primarily used as a marinade for meat–and specifically pork. Rumor has it that (assuming you don’t actually live in Portugal) if you slather massa de pimentão on a pork roast and then serve it to a Portuguese person, that person will break down and weep in a fit of nostalgia. That’s how well associated this salt-sweet pepper paste is with Portugal. So now you know.
I’ve been slathering mine on all kinds of things. It’s great as a marinade for roast chicken. I slathered extra on mid-bake almost like a barbecue sauce. It’s really really good.
I also have learned that it’s awesome on corn on the cob. And there is also a dab in the Shrimp Puttanesca Sauce I made at the beach last weekend. I know. Puttanesca is Italian. But remember: it’s sauce “the the style of a whore”. So I can hardly be faulted for stirring in a bit of whatever the hell I want into it.
Porco à alentejana with Massa de Pimentão
Finally, there is a famous traditional, and to me quite unusual, Portuguese dish that incorporates massa de pimentão not only as a marinade, but sort of a sauce base. That dish is Carne de Porco à Alentejana, which is a braise of pork and clams (!).
Carne de Porco à Alentejana? Hmmm. No. This isn’t foreshadowing. Not at all.
- 6 Red Bell Peppers
- 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt (or Coarse Sea Salt)
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- ¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Remove the stems, core, and seeds from the peppers and cut them into long 1 inch wide strips.
- Place the pepper strips on a large plate or in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Allow the peppers to soak overnight.
- Rinse the peppers thoroughly in water to remove most of the salt and dry them with a kitchen towel.
- Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C). Place the rinsed and dried pepper strips on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for about two hours, until they become soft and tender and the skin is beginning to brown and blister off of the pepper flesh in places.
- Allow the peppers to cool slightly and peel the skin off of each strip. It’s not critical to get every bit of skin off.
- Place the peppers in a food processor with the peeled garlic cloves and pulse, adding the olive oil slowly until a smooth paste forms.
- Place peppper paste (Massa de Pimentão) into a clean jar and refrigerate. It’ll keep for two to three weeks