Seems every recipe site I look at has suddenly discovered Aleppo pepper. Goodness.
Aleppo pepper is actually a process. Halaby peppers are picked when properly ripe, cut into strips, de-seeded, and placed in the sun to almost dry.
Once they’re at the proper state, they’re chopped and combined with salt and olive oil; then placed back out to dry completely. The result is a lovely mild, tangy, complex little spice with an almost raisin-y overtone.
While it’s named for the city of Aleppo in Syria, honestly, most Aleppo pepper comes from Turkey these days; and this is a good thing, because the Turks tend to produce a more consistent product.
What you should look for in the spice shop are nice red flakes, with a soft texture and an oily sheen. Turn the bottle looking for seeds. If you see seeds in the pepper, don’t buy it — seeds make the spice bitter, and change the taste fairly significantly.
I use Aleppo pepper in a lot of places where the recipe calls for crushed pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, and I usually keep it in two forms: a jar of straight Aleppo pepper; and a blend of Aleppo and other mild chilies — usually the Uc Biber blend from Flatiron Pepper Company. (If you find the Uc Biber is to your liking, be advised that the oily Aleppo pepper plays merry hob with mechanical equipment, so Flatiron only does occasional limited runs of that particular blend.)
I’m pleased that this Middle Eastern staple is being discovered by cooks Stateside, and I wait with bated breath for the US to find other lovely Mid-East spices, like sumac.