Tag Archives: Spicy

Fruity Friday’s… The chilli and yes it is a fruit!

Red-chilli-dried-green-hot

Oh Yes! It is a fruit!

I expect you were wondering when I was going to get around to one of my favourite fruits, The Chilli Pepper… Chillies are in season all year round here…although a pepper’s hotness is generally determined by genetics, the environment can play a role. Long hot days cause peppers to produce more capsaicin, the specific alkaloid that delivers the spicy kick…The chillies I am picking at the moment have certainly racked the heat up a bit..they are spicy hot babies…

This wonderful versatile fruit which some love to hate… Are the fruits from the flowers of the Nightshade plant family. Mainly eaten as a vegetable but most definitely it is a fruit.

Chilli peppers are a rich source of spicy-hot capsaicin. They are also very high in antioxidant carotenoids, which are linked with many health benefits. … Capsaicin: Is one of the most studied plant compounds in chilli peppers.

Did you know? Chilli has seven times the Vitamin C of an Orange. Also, a big bowl of chilli can help you lose weight? It is because the capsaicin in the chillies and peppers used to make a chilli raise your metabolic rate…

chilli-con carne-chilli peppers

Chilli Con Carne

  • 500 gm lean minced Beef ( I use pork) as I can’t get minced beef here.
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 red or yellow pepper chopped
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 1-3 heaped tsp hot chilli powder (or 1 level tbsp if you only have mild)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 pint of fresh-made beef or vegetable stock
  • 400 gm fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp sugar…I sneak this in when no one is looking as it brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes.
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 410 gm can red kidney beans, drained or pre-soaked dried kidney beans.

Let’s Cook!
Put the olive oil in a large pan and heat add the chopped onions, garlic, ginger, bay leaves and cumin seeds cook until onions are translucent about 5 minutes.
I like to add my cumin seeds with the onions as it brings out their full flavour and we love cumin.
Add the minced meat and cook, stirring until nicely browned.
Add the tomatoes, stock, peppers and tomato puree stirring in well and bring to a soft simmer.
Add the paprika, marjoram and sugar.
Cook for 20 minutes now this is where I taste and add more chilli and usually more cumin seeds and then add the drained kidney beans and cook for a further 30 minutes.

Serve with steamed rice and sour cream sprinkled with smoked paprika ( optional)

Enjoy!

Now what can be better than a Smokin hot chilli sauce this recipe was gifted to me by my friend Susan and it is awesome…Thank you, Susan, it is now my go-to chilli sauce…

Chilli- hot-red-fiery sauce

Let’s Cook!

This recipe is a sort of add how many chillies you like or it depends on how big your hands are…lol

Take a half kilo of Cayenne peppers or peppers of your choice.

A large handful of garlic cloves, peeled and blanched…it is not a requirement but the sauce will be less acrid if you blanch the garlic.

Smoke the chillies and garlic over charcoal mixed with smoked applewood for 2 hours.

Then put in a blender with a cup of organic live cider vinegar, a cup of sugar and half a tsp of salt.

Just look at that lovely rich, red colour, it looks amazing.

After you have made your first batch you might want to play around with the quantities to suit your taste …but that is the fun and what cooking is all about. The high sugar content makes it great for BBQ’s and helps with the preservation.

Put the sauce into sterilized jars.

It is then ready to use as a spread on your bacon sandwich, to coat your meats and is a great base for chilli or my friend Susan makes her version of Mole by adding cocoa powder, nuts, and some Mexican spices.

Play around with flavours you might find something new and exciting. Maybe blanch some red bell peppers and char them with the chillies and garlic.

NOTE:

If the sauce starts to ferment, bubble up then loosen the lid and let it do its work…I wouldn’t eat the sauce while this going on and fermenting but it will settle down on its own and you will be left with a lovely mature sauce with a deeper flavour, albeit less sweet.

Have fun and enjoy!

Do you like something a tad sweeter??? Then this Thai Sweet chilli sauce may be for you??

Sweet- chilli-sauce

This recipe makes about half cup of sauce which is ideal for me because if I buy a bottle I end up throwing it away either because I have had it in the fridge or cupboard so long or I have read the label.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar plus 2 tbsp.
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp sherry if you don’t have sherry then this article gives you replacements for sherry in cooking
  • 2 cloves of garlic grated/ minced or very finely chopped
  • 1/2 -1 tbsp dried chilli crushed ( 1 tbsp is hot) or chilli pepper flakes.
  • 1 plus 1/2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot dissolved in 3-4 tbsp water.
  • Optional… Sometimes I julienne a small piece of carrot or red pepper and add to the mixture during the reduction period of cooking.

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan except for the cornflour mix. Stir to combine and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to a slow rolling boil and cook for 10 minutes or until the mixture had reduced by half. Lower the heat and add the cornflour mix, stirring until the sauce has thickened.

Taste and adjust the seasoning more sugar if not sweet enough for you and if not hot enough then more chilli.

This is so quick and easy to make and far superior to shop-bought sauces and without the preservatives.

Enjoy!

Chilli plant- hot- spicy- Thai chillies

One of my favourite fruits…The chilli…

The chilli and lots of other fruits are in season in September and of course, eating fruits in season brings many benefits to your health and the taste…of course, depending on which zone you are in the world fruit seasons and types vary to what they do here…what doesn’t change is why we should eat the fruit in season …I have listed the benefits below but it really is a no brainer as fruit in season is glorious…

  1. Richer flavour – Produce that is picked when it’s fully ripened tastes amazing. If your product is coming from across the US or another country, it is picked before it’s ripe. As it travels to your local grocery store, it ripens in a cardboard box, often after being sprayed by chemicals to prevent it from ripening too quickly…who hasn’t been tempted by those strawberries out of season and at a far higher cost both in pennies and their carbon footprint to find the taste was a great disappointment…Hands up I have in the past but no more…I have learnt that lesson the hard way…
  2. Better nutrition – When produce is picked before it’s ripe, the nutrients do not fully develop in the flesh of the fruit. Plants need the sun to grow and picking them before they are ripe cuts off the nutrient availability. Genetic modification is also sometimes used, which can alter how the crop was naturally supposed to be consumed. Also, if you eat seasonally, you are guaranteed to consume a variety of produce, which will assist you in eating a healthier, balanced diet.
  3. Environmentally friendly – As produce is transported from other areas, it requires gas to get the product to the store. This fuel charge is something often added to the cost of the food upon delivery, not to mention what this does to the carbon footprint.
  4. Community benefit – Buying your produce from local farmer’s markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a great way to build community, but also allows you to feel more connected to where your food is coming from and who is growing it…I think we owe our families that and ourselves…

Don’t forget it is National Organic Month…if you missed my post yesterday explained what constitutes an organic product…

Thank you for reading, I do hope you have enjoyed it…  I am looking forward to your comments. Thanks, Carol xxxx

About Carol Taylor: 

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Have a great weekend, stay safe and be well xx

 

 

Thai Cooking…Sweet, Sour, Spicy, Salty and Bitter…

 

I think Thai food incorporates some of the best flavours in the world…Not laden with thick mayonnaise and cream which mask the taste of the other ingredients but lovely fresh food flavoured with herbs and spices which showcase the true essence of Thai food how the herbs and spices combine and as we all know who has cooked and eaten Thai food that the secret of a great dish is getting that right balance.

Thai cuisine is a marriage of old eastern and western influences combined in something which is uniquely Thai… a dish can be fiery and chilli hot or by comparison quite bland but there is always that balance that harmony which comes together to say this is Thai food at its best…

It is why I always say TASTE and TASTE again start with a little and add an ingredient(s) little by little… everyone has a preference to certain flavours …As you know I love chilli and fish sauce so maybe I use a little more than some who may prefer more lime for example …It is all about the TASTE…and Balance.

Sweet…

There are different types of sugar produced in Thailand from white and brown sugar, palm and coconut sugars.

Palm sugar comes from sugar palm tree or Palmyra while coconut sugar comes from the coconut palm.

Both sugars are produced from the sweet, watery sap that drips from cut flower buds. Palm sugar usually has a darker colour, a more fragrant smoky aroma and a more complex flavour than coconut sugar.

Palm and coconut sugars are usually used in curry dishes but considerably more in Thai desserts.

I use palm sugar mostly as it has a milder sweetness and goes well with foods which contain coconut milk…Coconut sugar has a more intense caramel-like flavour which I use when baking banana bread.

Dark, black soy although strong in taste and salty there is an element of a sweet molasses flavour… Used sparingly it enhances the taste of stir-fries.

Thai Basil has a sweet but strong aniseed flavour which I love and as I really love fresh herbs if a recipe says 2 sprigs I would use 4…I love Thai herbs…

Sour…

The sour flavour is predominant in Thai salads, soups, dips, and some drinks, usually, it comes from the tamarind which I love … lime juice,  fragrant Kaffir lime leaves, Lemongrass and white vinegar.

fresh cut limes-1239267_1280

Tamarind that brown fruit imparts such a lovely sour/sweet flavour I just love the tamarind eaten raw or soaked and the juice used in a recipe ..just love it!

Spicy…

Flavour usually comes from fresh and dried Thai chillies, black and white peppers, garlic, and ginger. This taste of Thai food, spicy, is seldom missed in Thai cooking. Level relatively differs from personal preference.

Thai chillies or birdseye as they are often called are used in many Thai dishes like Thai curries, in salads…green or red or just eaten raw…Yes, raw I don’t go that far unless it is in my salad but many Thais just eat the whole raw chilli quite often the men here in my house have a competition on who can eat the hottest raw chilli….I do not participate I love chilli in my food but why would I just want to chomp on a chilli ????

Chilli plant- hot- spicy- Thai chillies

White peppercorns are used here for heat quite extensively more so than black peppercorns which are mostly used in western dishes.

Garlic is also used frequently and added to the oil first before stir-frying quite often the garlic and the chillies are added first.

Fresh coriander has a very strong smell and taste and the leaves and the roots are used in many dishes or as a garnish.

Bitter…

The bitter flavour in Thai food does not often exist in most Thai dishes. However, the bitter flavour comes from a few kinds of vegetables and fruit which are believed to have a medicinal benefit.

The bitter gourd is commonly used in soups and stocks or in a dish called Khiewchanta…

Thai food-raw prawns-spicy-dip

Thai raw prawns with spicy dip

 

Which is made with uncooked prawns with a blow your head off chilli dip. It consists of very finely chopped white cabbage, finely sliced and halved…arranged round the edge of plate……..Fresh prawns, cleaned, deveined and soaked in Soda Water…..Fresh mint leaves and finely sliced garlic.

Salty…

Salty flavour usually comes from sea salt, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Fish sauce is considerably used in Thai cooking while different kind of soy sauces are mostly used for soups and stir-fry dishes and it may be used instead to one’s personal preference or for Thai vegetarian cooking.

Sea salt is more commonly used in Thai cooking as a preservative for fish and eggs or it is used to help grind other spices sometimes when making Thai pastes.

I am really lucky as I get my salt fresh as we live close to some salt flats …

Salt-farming-northern Thailand

Lighter soy sauces are also used to balance the salty flavours as is shrimp paste which has an incredibly pungent smell and is often dry roasted to develop the taste…Used in curries and fish dishes it actually tastes better than it smells …It took me a while to get used to this one …

Unlike western foods which are often served in courses a Thai meal is served all at once as the balance of spice, salt, sour and sweetness are not only considered in individual dishes but the meal as a whole it has to have balance.

For example, if you have a really hot curry then this would be balanced by a soup and a mild stir-fry. Thai cooking is instinctive the taste is learned by instinct as chillies can be hot or a little milder, your limes may be really juicy or not so which is why I say TASTE and TASTE again as a recipe for Thai food is a guide and cannot take into account individual ingredients which may vary…

I hope this has been helpful and you now have a better idea of the complexities of Thai cooking…

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