Turn Up The Heat With Chillies
Turn up the heat with chillies if you’re feeling a little cooler these days. Glenora Heritage Produce at Gasworks Farmer’s Market has got every chilli you could possibly want to spice up your dishes. Now is a good time to make harissa, kasundi or a chilli paste to store in your pantry, string a few long ones together to hang and air-dry in a well ventilated place or easier still, why not pickle some chilies. I pickled these lovely yellow amarillo chillies in apple cider vinegar. Amarillo chillies are a Peruvian variety with a warm citrus flavour and a heat that dissipates quickly in your mouth, so no need to rush to the tub of yoghurt for comfort. With the tip of a sharp knife put a tiny slit into the side of each chilli and wash them with salted water. The slit will ensure that the pickling liquid permeates the entire chilli. Sterilise a small jam jar and lid with boiling water. Meanwhile bring 250 ml of apple cider vinegar with 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, a bay leaf and a few peppercorns to the boil. Pack your jar with the chillies and then fill to the brim with the vinegar, including the bay leaf and peppercorns. You will see tiny air bubbles bubbling up from inside the chillies. Wait until all the bubbles have risen to the surface and then place the lid on. Store for a few weeks and refrigerate on opening.
A recent favorite of mine is the Padron chilli pepper. Only one in five is supposed to be firery and hence the fun in eating these simply flash fried in olive oil as a tapa with drinks; a sort of culinary Russian roulette. Curiously, every one I tasted the other night was very hot, while none in the plate I ate with friends at Tinto, Spanish tapas bar in Hawthorn were the least bit hot. I really enjoy the 1:5 ratio but any more can be a bit much. A tip from the young woman at Glenora was to add a little splash of sherry vinegar to the pan after frying to temper the chilli heat a little. Be careful to do this away from the hotplate or gas flame as it will spit violently. While the uncertainty of the Padron is part of the attraction, they do actually have a lovely flavour and are a great addition to a spread of small appetizers.