Basic Chinese Pantry. Chillies

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Red-Chillies_cBy the article "Basic Chinese Pantry. Bean Curd" we began a series of articles about Chinese Pantry. Here is the next text on this topic. It's about such product as Chillies. Fresh chillies - the seed pods of the capsicum plant - are used extensively in Chinese cookery. Although a relatively new ingredient, having been introduced from the Americas about 100 years ago, the chilli has spread rapidly throughout Asia.

Fresh chillies - the seed pods of the capsicum plant - are used extensively in Chinese cookery. Although a relatively new ingredient, having been introduced from the Americas about 100 years ago, the chilli has spread rapidly throughout Asia. Chillies are becoming more and more easily available in the UK in supermarkets and specialist food shops. Although seldom used in traditional Cantonese cooking, they are ideal for flavouring food. They provide colour and form when used as a garnish, and are also added, chopped, to many dishes and sauces that require fast cooking. They are available fresh, dried or ground.

Fresh chillies Fresh chillies found in China are long and usually pointed. Both red and green are available, though you might have difficulty obtaining fresh red chillies in the UK. Their taste is mildly spicy and pungent. Smaller varieties can be found, but the larger longer ones are the most widely available. Look for fresh chillies that are bright in colour, with no brown patches or black spots. Use red chillies if possible as they are generally milder than green ones, because they sweeten as they ripen.

To prepare fresh chillies, first rinse them in cold water. Then, using a small sharp knife, slit them lengthways. Remove and discard the seeds. Rinse the chillies well under cold running water and prepare them according to the instructions in the recipe. Wash your hands, knife and chopping board before preparing other foods, and be careful not to touch your eyes until you have washed your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Dried red chillies Although dried red chillies are associated with Sichuan-inspired dishes, they add dimension to many other types of cui-sine. Some are small, thin and about 1/2 inch (1 cm) long. They are used to season oil for stir-fried dishes, or split and used in sauces or in braised dishes. They are normally left whole or cut in half lengthways and the seeds left in. Dried chillies can be bought at most supermarkets and Asian grocers', and they will keep indefinitely in a tightly covered jar in a cool place.

Chilli powder Chilli powder, made from dried red chillies, is also known as cayenne pepper. It is pungent and aromatic, ranging from hot to very hot; it is thus widely used in many spicy dishes. You can buy it in supermarkets.



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