Monday, 30 July 2012

Lemon drop, a different kind of chilli !

From Glenn’s Peppers I got some chillies for tasting, and to see what I could come up with recipes.
I will talk about them one by one, this time the Lemon drop or in Peru called the Kellu Uchu a chilli rated at 15.000 to 30.000 Scoville units.
This first chilli growing at the plant looks like a drop indeed, with the point down. It really is a stunning looker, and haven’t tasted them yet. Having 105 varieties myself, it is stunning that other people sometimes only have sorts I don’t have. This yellow and vibrant looking chilli is really yellow, not mustard like, but bright and shining yellow.

I often have tasted yellow chillies, and most of them are said to be having a lemon taste. I don’t know why people do taste citrus, as I often don’t. It might be the suggestion of the colour that people tend to taste lemon, but it might as well be banana. Well ok as I said that I have seldom tasted any citrus in a chilli, I tried to keep an open mind to the taste and have a try.

I really have to be in the right mood to taste, as well as the time of day seems to matter. Weird enough, most tasters do it either in the morning fresh and bright, or in the evening. I tend to do it round about 3 O’clock to get the best out of it. Having said that, I also have to say that I burned off a couple of times, not being able to taste anything when dinner was served. Or when making dinner myself, not being able to taste a thing from the food I made. Sorry for strolling off, but tasting does take some time and some explaining.

The Lemon Drop; this is a vibrant yellow chilli, with a beautiful form and lovely shine. The first chillies on the plant look like your perfect water drop upside down. I would have loved to show you, but I ate it. I am so sorry. . . . .  NOT
The smell of it uncut has a bit of the smell of a tomato plant, but that could be caused by the plants growing next to them. When cutting it, a light fruity smell comes up, sort of perfume like that just teases your nose. Tasting between the seed lists it has the taste from star fruit combined with lemon! Ha Lemon, finally, it really has the taste of lemon without the sour bite. Surprising to say the least, this chilli has a very nice and fresh taste where the actual taste almost would suggest that it does have a bit of sour in it. It is sweet, hot and fruity, and is one stunning looker! This chilli is a she, female really. Not a young girl with way too much perfume you might smell in 25 meters around. No, this is a woman with good taste, she has a delicate smell and fine subtle taste, but heaven. Mind, she really has a bite as well, seducing with subtlety and good taste she will bite you at the end.

Please don’t overpower its fine and delicate taste !

Yours sincerely

Bart J. Meijer

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Basic simple stir fry

I often make a simple and fast stir fry for the family, just as it is fresh nice and fast. If I am really busy I even just use a package of soup vegetables or ready to go stir fry greens. It will be good, if you take in mind not to have the greens steam or fry for too long. The meat should be nice and tender, having great taste. Now, you can make a good stir fry with almost any meat or poultry, but this time I will use pork.

I am not Martha Steward or something like that, but I do want to point out that if you want to take down the price of your meal, buy meat in big. I do that as often as I can, cleaning the meat myself, with a good knife. I can tell you that I earned back my first pro knife in weeks buying bigger cuts and making them smaller myself. Buying meat in big often costs 1/3rd of pre-cut meat. If you buy stir fry cut here which always turns chewy, 400 grams will be around 4 euro, uncut per Kg about 3,50. So here I have this Kg of pork back, and trim the excess fat and sinew from the meat and cut it to thin slices. To start with the meat looks like cat food. If you slice it like this, the meat will be chewy like gum, so start taking out the big good parts. With a good sharp knife it’ll glide past the sinew by its own almost. You will be used to this in no time, and you will get the hard parts from the meat, even the little parts.
If you have taken out the sinew and fat like this, your meat will be lovely and tender, but the stir fry might taste a bit too lean.

You need:
A ready to go Stir fry vegetables mix or
100 grams green beans
100 grams carrot
100 grams red onion
100 grams of leek
400 grams pork back or shoulder
50 grams of smoked pork belly
1-3 chillies depending on your taste and the heat of the chilli
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of oil
A curl of butter

So get some smoked pork belly, and use about 50 grams with the total of the dish. This will make your dish taste rich, even fatty like, without having a lot of fat.

Marinade the meat with a teaspoon of Cumin seeds and ground them yourself in a mortar, the taste will be better and again it will be loads cheaper. Then ground a teaspoon of Coriander seeds with the mortar, and add it to the meat. Fresh ground Coriander seeds with have some sweet and heat that processed powder is lacking off. Add some Paprika powder or sweet bell pepper powder, some salt, and a tablespoon of peanut oil. The oil will keep the meat from drying out. I added a good Korean pepper paste here, as it adds a lovely taste. Stir it a bit to get the herbs, meat and oil all mixed nicely, then leave it for at least 20 minutes, or marinade it the day before, if it gets more time the taste will be better.

Then chop a clove of garlic, a nice chilli taking out the seed lists to keep the heat down a bit if it has more heat than taste.

Chop your greens to 5 mm or 7 mm slices, keeping them the same width, this will make the cooking the same for all greens. The green beans can be a bit longer like 20 or 30 mm.

Start to fry the pork belly pieces in oil, when they start to sweat add the chilli. If you put in the chilli that early, it’ll loose some heat but no taste. Then add the garlic and put in your marinated meat and add the curl of butter, this will make the meat brown much faster. If the meat starts to colour add the greens on top with a little salt, the salt will make your greens start to lose some moisture. Give it a stir and put on a lid for about 5 minutes. Finish off with a good dash of soy if you like; this will make it look duller though.

Enjoy your meal!

Yours sincerely,

Bart J. Meijer

Monday, 9 July 2012

Sambal - A chilli condiment, the purest use of chillies!

There are more than a few sauces, hotsauces and rubs around the world, containing chilli. There are even candies and chocolate bars containing chillies, but one thing has struck me. There is next to no sambal if I go abroad. In the UK you mainly see sauces, US too, and in the Netherlands there are a few sauces but not a lot. It hasn’t got to do with us Dutch not loving sauces, it has to do with the fact that we have Sambal!
Fresh ground Sambal
Sambal is not really a Dutch thing, but goes way back to colonial times, the time that we had Indonesia amongst others as a colony. I read the Wikipedia article about sambal, and got real good laugh about it, as it is so full with mistakes it is a joke. I will consider re-writing it for them, but before I go into a rant about mis-information, I will get back to the real history. Sambal or the idea to it has been born in Indonesia, Java and Malay and is originally used as a condiment so people can make their food as hot as they wanted. This use was discovered by the Dutch and imported to Holland then spread through other colonies as Surinam. Strange is that Sambal never really spread further then this, as I think that making sambal is one of the purest of uses for chillies, as the sambal contains over 75% chillies normally. 
My own sambals are more like 90-95% chillies, using some ingredients to enhance the flavour or the smell of the chilli used. So other ingredients used in sambal, are there to complement the chilli not to overrule or even co exist no, they are there to complement the chilli., celebrating the chilli as a fruit, making it a really strong and potent condiment.

There are two main groups of Sambal (Javanese) Sambel (Indonesian), raw called “mentah” and cooked called “matang”, the raw one is hotter most of the time.
Old stone morter
The base of Sambal is ground chilli or chilli paste from the whole chilli including seeds to give it a nice texture, made with a stone mortar. I have one to but more often use it to make herb pastes called boemboes. I more often make it in a kitchen machine, and that is fast and easy. This paste I use either as a base if I want to make either raw or cooked Sambal. Depending how hot you want to have it, you use a chilli that you prefer. But keep in mind that Sambal is not diluted with a lot of ingredients, so you will get one or more chillies in just one teaspoon of sambal. Traditionally used chillies for Sambal are: Lombok, Rawit and Rocoto. There is even a sambal made of a chilli that closely resembles the Naga chilli, packing almost the same heat.

Let’s do some recipe’s
Sambal Oelek, the basic raw “mentah” sambal:
1 teaspoon of salt
10 chillies.
Grind the chillies with the salt, and you are ready!

Now that is a fast recipe.
 Fresh ground Sambal Mentah "Bart"
My own basic Sambal Mentah

1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 clove of garlic
10 red chillies ( Medina or Rawitt of Monkey face )
4-5 drops of lemon juice

Grind the garlic with salt and chillies, when it is a smooth paste add the olive oil stirring it then stir 4-5 drops of lime juice through it until you just about smell the lime. This a fantastic vibrant and fresh Sambal that will keep for more than a week in the fridge.

Spooky yellow sambal “matang”

2 Yellow Bell paprikas
1 normal onion
2 cloves of garlic
15 Golden Cayenne
15 Aribibi Gusano chillies, or 7 Habañero white, or 2 Yellow 7 pot.
1 teaspoon of regular oil
2 teaspoons of Olive oil
2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Grind the chilies complete with seeds and all in a processor with Yellow Bell and one teaspoon of salt to a smooth paste. Cut the onion in small bits and the garlic ultra fine.
Heat the teaspoon regular oil and fry the garlic and the onion without getting colour, just glaze them on low heat. When the onion looks like you can almost see through the bits, add the processed paste and get it to simmer. Leave it to simmer until the mixture thickens. Kill the fire and then add the Olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and the tablespoon of lemon juice. Put in a jar in the refrigerator, it’ll keep good for several weeks.

This looks spooky and yellow, taste sweet and sour, smell vibrant and aromatic. Mind you, this is screaming hot!

If you try these recipes, let me know or post a picture at Bart J. Meijer's facebook page.

Next time I will make you some fusion sambal recipe’s, for I thought I was done with this post, telling about its history and all. So I had it pre read by a couple of readers, and one of the readers had something. Matthieu Le Gal from Firechillies in France told me there is another condiment that closely resembles Sambal called Paté de Piment or "Piment la pâte" that is eaten in France and comes from their colony isles.  So I read into it and asked him to add a part to this blog.

The Paté de Piment or "Piment la pâte" that is eaten in France comes from the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 870 kilometres (540 mi) east of Madagascar. In addition to the island of Mauritius, the Republic includes the islands of Cargados Carajos, Rodrigues, Tromelin and the Agalega Islands. Mauritius Island is part of the Mascarene Islands, with the French island of Réunion to the southwest and the island of Rodrigues to the east. There are different stories about the origins, one of them is that the Indian people who set up in the island brought the recipe, the "Rougail" word would come from the Tamoul "rougay" which means "green fruits confit".

So "Piment la pâte" is used as a table condiment by itself same as Sambal, but it can also be mixed with diced tomatoes or cucumber or green mango in order to create another condiment: "le Rougail".
"Rougail" is the perfect match to eat with Reunionese curries such as:
- "Carry Poulet" with chicken
- "Carry ti'Jacques Boucané" with smoked pork breast

Some recipes:
Chilli paste Reunion Island "Piment la pâte"

"Piment la pâte" is traditionally prepared with green or red chillies, but I like to make it with Orange Habanero or Fatalii, especially as this last one has a nice citrus flavour combining well with the Combava zest.

- 100g of any kind of chilli, depend on the heat level you want
- 1 thumb-sized piece of peeled ginger
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 Combava/Kaffir lime zest
- fresh cilantro to taste
- white vinegar
- olive oil
- sea salt

Chop the chillies in a blender with the ginger, garlic, fresh cilantro and the Combava zest.
Place in a jar with 3 pinches of salt, add 1 table spoon of white vinegar, mix the ingredients in the jar with your table spoon and compress lightly to level the paste. This will keep for weeks in the fridge.
For people with salt issues, if you skip the salt, you may need to check from time to time if everything is OK. But with the vinegar this paste should be kept long time in fridge.

There's also another recipe with different ingredients using the Mediterranean style, just replace the ginger/cilantro/combava with shallots/chives/a pinch of whole mustard seeds.

Alternative recipe, special "Fire Chillies" style:
It's on the base of one way to prepare a chilli oil, interesting condiment that we are going to talk about later.
Chop finely all the ingredients (except the Combava zest that you will add in the end) and cook them in olive oil in a pan so all the flavour will mix together and the chilli will give its heat to the oil.
Cook slowly at low temp, stir well until all is processed nicely and not burning, than add the table spoon of white vinegar.
Place in a jar and keep it cool in the fridge.

If you try this recipe, please post some pics at Fire chillies facebook page
Have a good dinner !

Yours truly,

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Sambal yihaa, hot pepper paste!

Hello Readers!

It took me a while to post.
In the meant time I wrote and article for Papa Djabs about sambal.
Now I am working on an other post for this place, will be ready in a day or two. and I am working on a great and stunning post. There is going to be a larger post soon, with 3 more recipe's
bliming hot, bloody tasteful and no freaking additives to spike it. Pure hot, natural and tasty !

Yours truly,

Bart J, Meijer