Chillies

Chillies

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Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

These small, fiery members of the pepper family are essential to Latin American, Indian and much of Southeast Asian cuisine. They are used in cooking, as condiments and garnishes and as a flavouring for vinegar and pickles. Unripe (green or yellow) chillies are juicier, with more flavour; ripe (red) chillies, either fresh or dried, are hotter. The dried ones give brighter colour but are less fragrant than the fresh ones. The heat of chillies also differs from one variety to another – the tiny bird’s-eye chilli is particularly fiery.

To handle whole chillies: Working under cold running water, make a slit down the side of the chilli and scrape out the seeds with the point of a knife. Take care not to touch your nose or eyes as the juice will burn them, and always wash your hands well after handling chillies. Before chopping or grinding dried chillies, tear each one into 3–4 pieces and soak in hot water for 10 minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture before using.

Other ways to add chilli flavour: Chilli powder is made from ground, dried chilli flesh. Asian-style powder is hotter than Mexican-style powder, which contains cumin and other spices as well as chilli. Sambal ulek (or oelek) is a paste of fresh chillies ground with salt. Chilli sauce combines chillies with other aromatics and comes in various degrees of heat.

See also Tabasco Sauce.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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