They come in all shapes and sizes and different levels of heat and they have many health benefits. Chillies are a popular natural remedy, when applied topically; cayenne pepper can help stop bleeding, for instance.
Now I’m a lover of the chilli pepper and so are my parrots. I can’t believe how they take on a habanero chilli, which sits up high on the Scoville meter. I can’t bring one to my lips, they are so hot. They say the greater the levels of capsaicin, the hotter the chilli will be. All mammals are sensitive to capsaicin, but birds are completely immune. So, if you ever see a bird tucking into a Scotch Bonnet pepper and showing no ill-effects at all, he isn’t a fan of spicy food; he simply is not impacted by the capsaicin found there.
They are members of the nightshade family, related to bell peppers and tomatoes. The seeds are not the hottest part of peppers. It is at the point where the seed is attached to the white membrane inside the pepper that the highest concentration of capsaicin compound, giving peppers their pungent flavour, is found.
It is said that chilli peppers help you burn more calories by raising the body’s core temperature during digestion, and what’s more, they trigger a reaction in your gut that tells your nervous system to produce more brown fat, a healthy fat that expends calories.
I’m also told that they reduce appetite by forcing you to drink more water to cool off, and by distracting your mind, making you forget that you’re hungry – I like the thought of that.
Whatever they do to your body it’s got to be good. I’m addicted to them and eat them with almost every meal.
Chilli Beef on Noodle Cake with Cucumber Pickle
Ingredients for the Pickled Cucumber:
1 large English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tbls roughly chopped mint
1 red chilli thinly sliced
2 spring onions with tops, thinly sliced
½ tsp white sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground white pepper
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbls peanut oil
1 Tbls rice wine vinegar
Make the pickle first. Place the sliced cucumber into a bowl, and sprinkle over the remaining ingredient. Using your hands, toss together well and pile on to a serving plate. Set aside while you prepare the beef.
For the Chilli Beef:
4 Tbls oil
500g sirloin, cut into thin strips
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbls curry powder
1 tsp crushed dry chillies
4 Tbls cornflour
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
2 stalks lemon grass, minced
Oil for deep frying
Toasted black sesame seeds, for garnishing
Now make the chilli beef. Place the oil, beef, garlic, curry powder, crushed chillies, cornflour, fish sauce, sugar and lemon grass in a bowl, and mix together well to coat the beef.
Deep fry the beef in batches, and drain on paper towels and keep warm while you prepare the noodle cake.
For the Noodle Cake:
300g cooked egg noodles
2 Tbs chopped coriander
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
Ground white pepper, to taste
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs peanut oil
Make the noodle cake; place the cooked noodles into a bowl with all the remaining ingredients, except the two tablespoons of peanut oil. Toss together with two forks, ensuring that the noodles are well coated.
Heat the peanut oil in a pan, press the noodles into the base and fry till golden. Turn the noodle cake over, brown the other side and then drain on kitchen towel.
Place a noodle cake onto a plate and top with some chilli beef and pickled cucumber. Garnish with a scattering of toasted black sesame seeds. Serve with extra cucumber on the side.