Common chillies in Australia
“Chillies really are an incredible lift not just for the food you’re eating but for your body itself, with all the endorphins that it kicks off.”
The chemical in chillies that makes them taste hot, capsaicin, is technically a neurotoxin. It stimulates the adrenal glands to release hormones, giving you an energy rush. No wonder Australia is hooked on them.
Fresh Chillies in Australia
Two to four centimetres in length, tapering to a point, these small chillies can pack a wallop. Ripe, red bird’s eyes are widely used in south-east Asian dishes such as Thai salads, Indonesia’s sambal ulek (chilli paste) and Vietnam’s nuoc cham dipping sauce. Chef Neil Perry likes the citrus character and intense sting unripe green bird’s eye chillies add to salads.
Try Thai yam (salad), with prawns or squid, lime juice, fish sauce and heaps of chopped chillies.
About five centimetres long and wide at the shoulder, tapering to a small point, these intensely hot chillies start out green and ripen to yellow, orange or red. In The Great Chile Book, Mark Miller says their flavour has ”tropical fruit tones” that work well in food containing tropical fruit or tomatoes. Handle with care: too much habanero will overpower a dish and can cause havoc if you get it on your skin.
Try A little in a salsa made with tomatillos, a small green fruit in the tomato family.
Five to nine centimetres long with a rounded end, the jalapeno is one of the world’s most popular chillies. Its thick flesh makes it easy to work with. Perry prefers to use jalapenos green for their citrus character. Consultant chef Paul Wilson pickles them, green and red, and shaves them raw on ceviche: ”It gives you punch and a nice capsicum flavour.”
Try a salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado, butter lettuce and chopped jalapenos, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.