Often passed over by many for their pungency or heat, chilli “peppers” in fact open up a world of flavour and texture in many international cuisines. Try these three interesting chilli recipes; Chilli Oil, Chillis Fermented in Honey & Rhubarb Ancho Chilli Salsa, to add a bit of spice to your favourite meals.
Preparation: 5-10 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 Minutes
1 cup (250ml) peanut oil
4 star anise
1 piece cassia or cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns* to taste
4 black cardamom pods, bruised
5 cm piece (25g) fresh ginger, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised
2 Asian shallots or eschallots, peeled and halved
½ cup (43g) chilli flakes, preferably Chinese dried chilli flakes
1 tsp salt (to taste)
- Combine oil and dried herbs in a small saucepan but ensure there is at least 5cm clearance between the oil and the rim. Place over medium heat to warm then gradually lower to medium-low or low heat as the oil heats to approx. 110–120°C only so as not to burn the spices. Add ginger, garlic and shallots. The oil will bubble very gently around the spices and gradually dry out the fresh ingredients. Infuse the aromatics for a minimum of 30 minutes or longer for best results. Remove and cool a little.
- Place chilli flakes in a glass or ceramic heatproof bowl; use a metal strainer to strain over the oil. It should smell slightly toasty but not burnt.
Stir in the salt.
- Cool oil for an hour then transfer to a jar. Store at room temperature for up to a month or in the fridge for up to six months. Always use a clean spoon to prevent spoilage.
Lyndey’s Note: *Sichuan peppercorns are numbing and make a spicier oil so use according to taste or you can substitute black or white peppercorns. Chinese chilli flakes are made from different varieties of chilli and have more flavour than Western. If the chilli flakes are very roasted make sure oil is warm but not hot when you pour it over to avoid darkening. You can always test the oil on a small bowl of chilli flakes first. Other things like sesame seeds, fennel and soy sauce can be added but best not chilli powder as it can burn in the hot oil.
Chillis Fermented in Honey
Preparation: 20 minutes + 10-14 days fermenting or much longer
5–6 whole mixed chillies or jalapeños, fresh, firm, no blemishes and heavy for their size
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 cup raw honey or more
- Place whole chillies, (or slice and remove some or all of the seeds and ribs if desired) into a clean, wide-mouth 600ml mason jar until it is ½ to 3/4 full (do not fill entirely as the ferment will expand).
- Add enough honey to completely cover the chillies, making sure they are thoroughly coated with honey.
- Screw the cap on tightly and flip it to coat all of the chillies with the honey. Store in a dark place, with a plate underneath. Flip it daily, loosening the lid on the jar to let gasses escape when it is lid side up.
- The honey chillies will ferment for about a week or two. It may or may not bubble a little. You will know it’s ready when the honey has become much runnier.
Lyndey’s Note: It is important to use raw honey for this recipe, as it will have all of the necessary bacteria and wild yeast in it for the fermentation process to happen. Refrigerate when the developed flavour is as you like it.
Rhubarb Ancho Chilli Salsa
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 20-30 minutes, depending on the method
1 large bunch (500g) rhubarb, trimmed
2 medium (280g) tomatoes
2 eschallots, unpeeled
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 dried ancho chilli, soaked in warm water, stem removed
¾ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp muscovado or dark brown sugar, or to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat your BBQ to high. Do not oil, but place rhubarb, eschallot, garlic and tomatoes on, turning to blacken. This can also be done in a pan (with an exhaust fan on) or by holding ingredients over the open gas flame on your cooktop. BBQ is the easiest way to blacken everything at once. Remove when they are black on the outside and soft inside. Peel and discard skins when they are cool enough to handle.
- Drain and blitz the ancho chilli in a food processor. Add rhubarb, eschallot, garlic, tomatoes, salt, pepper, coriander and cumin and pulse until it has a chunky salsa texture. Taste, add sugar and adjust seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate until needed.
These chilli recipes were created for Selector Magazine.
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