Using Herbs and Spices


Chilies - Handle with Care

Handling chili with care

Fresh chilies are used in most  Asian  food, particularly  that of Southeast Asia. If mild flavoring is required, simply wash the chili and add it to the dish when simmering, then lift out and discard the chili before serving. But if you want the authentic fiery quality of the dish and decide to use the chilies seeded and chopped as the Asians do, then equip yourself with disposable plastic or well fitting rubber gloves. Loose, clumsy gloves are difficult to work in.

 

Remove stalk of chili and make a slip to remove the seeds, scraping them out with the tip of a small sharp knife; or cut the chili in two lengthways and remove the central membrane together with the seeds. The seeds are the hottest part of the chili. It you wish to make some of the fiery hot sambals, the chilies are used seeds and all. Generally ground or pureed in a blender.

 

If  you handle (cut or chop) chilies without gloves, after doing so, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Chilies can be so hot that even two or three good washing do not stop the tingling sensation, which can go on for hours. If this happens, remember to keep your hands well away from your eyes, lips or where the skin is especially sensitive - and in particular, do not touch young children.

 

Dried chilies : There are large and small dried chilies; those called for in any of the following recipes are the large variety. If frying them as an accompaniment to a meal, use them whole, dropping them straight into hot oil. If they are being soaked  and ground as part of the spicing for a sambal, sauce or curry, first break or snip off the stalk end and shake the chili so that the seeds fall out. They are  safe enough to handle until they have been soaked and ground, but if you handle them after this has been done, remember to wash your hands at once with soap and water. Dried chilies, though they give plenty of heat and flavor, do not have as much effect on the skin as fresh chilies with the volatile oils.


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