Can you believe it is June already?? Half of the year is gone in a flash, and before we knew it, I would be busy plucking my gray hairs, ha! Anyway for column this month on BBC Good Food Asia, the theme is chilli, a very common ingredient. in all walks of cuisine..from Mexican jalapenos, Asian bird’s eye chillies, Spanish paprika and of course the daily seasoning of black pepper in most households, chilli kick is not only for main meals but complements well in dessert too!
I revisited our middle eastern flavour with this Shakshuka, a dish that looks so flamboyantly elegant with poached eggs amidst the sea of red chilli-tomato gravy, and guess what, it is so easy to prepare too. We have this for breakfast at home sometimes, but more commonly for main meals with roti of any kind to scoop up the gravy.
The first time I ever tasted Chilli Jam was at Harvey Nicols, a lunch with mom where we shared a plate of salmon fishcakes, vegetable tempura and chilli jam. The naivete back then was so laughable, I asked my mom who is the better cook between us, how did this jam ever set?
‘This is so much better than Thai sweet chilli sauce!’
Now years later, and after so much experiments on jamming, canning and preserving, jars of homemade sweet chilli-pepper jam readily replace the shopbought sauces. I have also provided the recipe for prawn tempura in the magazine, yes the batter is without tempura flour of course but using basic ingredient in your pantry. Let me in a tip on getting that crispy tempura: use icy cold water for the batter.
Sometimes I don’t know what inspire me more to cook, is it really the recipe or the amazing colours? Those speckles of chilli seeds are so inviting! Recipe at the end of post.
After ‘visiting’ Middle East and Japan for main meals, let’s finish off with dessert au francais. This French chocolate pot de creme gets a renewed flavour with the addition of bird’s eye chilli, known for its pungent heat and chilli powder. Honey was used to tone down the heat, alongside the sweetness from melted chocolate couverture.
Omit the chillies if you are making this for kids, but really, the flavour is mild and you won’t confuse this delicious dessert with curry!
I had fun cooking and shooting the chillies this month. Grab a copy of the magazine this month for the recipes and many more, if not, at least here is the sweet chilli jam recipe for you to try it out!